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How To Cool Down A Room Without AC

Ten ways to keep cool in the summer.

Between high temperatures and that infamous humidity, Southern summers aren’t for the faint of heart. Even with your biggest, iciest glass of sweet tea, the heat can be overwhelming or even a health risk with too much exposure. To get through the simmering season (and often the months surrounding it too), so many Southerners rely on air conditioning for respite from the weather. But what if you don’t have access to AC? Or what if it breaks down or there’s a power outage? 

Don’t sweat it. Here are 10 strategies to cool down your home. Try these creative, heat-evading tricks to keep your cool without the help of an air conditioner.

Close And Cover Windows

If you’re trying to escape the heat, don’t give it an open door or window to follow you through. Close your windows tightly. According to, you should also shut your curtains, drapes, or blinds to prevent the sun from shining in and heating up your space. 

When the temperature cools down and the sun sets, open your windows and shades to let the cooler air breeze through your home. Use screens on the windows to make sure that a breeze is the only thing entering your home rather than mosquitos or other pests. Then, be sure to shut everything back up again come morning.

Close Gaps

In the winter, we seal up our doors and windows, caulking any gaps to prevent the cold air from getting in. The same strategy goes a long way for keeping hot air out in the summer. Plus, this DIY strategy will also keep bothersome garden pests out of the house.

Remember That Heat Rises

Remember those childhood fire safety lessons? “Stop, drop, and roll,” will forever be impounded in our brains, as will the fact that heat rises. These tidbits are paramount in dire situations, but can prove helpful for coping with ordinary summer heat, too. If the temperature in your home is stifling, stay low to the ground. Keep to lower levels of the house and if you need to, move your mattress to the floor for the night.

Keep The Stove Off

And the oven, too! Any heat-producing appliances are best kept off to avoid additional heat introduction. Head outdoors to fire up the grill for meals or try one of our slow-cooker recipes for when it’s too sweltering to turn on the oven.

Unplug Where You Can

Even when they’re not on, plugged-in appliances generate heat, especially bigger machines like the washer, dryer, and dishwasher. Unplug them if you can, but at the very least, keep them off to avoid generating heat. Smaller appliances like phone chargers or lamps should also be kept unplugged while they’re not in use.

Make The Most Of Fans

Fans are a summertime savior whether they’re in addition to, or instead of, a central AC unit. Ceiling fans, stand-alone fans, and even hand-helds can make a big difference in fighting sweltering temperatures and still air. First, switch the direction that your ceiling fan is rotating. Did you know that ceiling fans have winter and summer settings? Set your fan to rotate counterclockwise to make a room’s temperature feel up to 4 degrees. 

Another household fan to take advantage of is any exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen. Switch those on to create more air circulation and help filter out the hot air. At night while you have the windows open, run the exhaust to move cold air in and hot air out quicker.

Portable fans can also be used strategically to welcome in cool air and usher out the heat. We know that it’s tempting to orient the fan to blow directly at you, but we promise that these strategies will actually be more effective at keeping you cool. When your windows are open at night, place a fan nearby to help disperse that air inwards. If you do this at opposite ends of the house, it will enhance the cooling efficiency even more. Likewise, if you’re using a window box fan, set it to blow inwards from the window when it's cool out, but it should blow outwards to ward off the heat during those sunny hours. Using a dehumidifier will also draw out the excess moisture in the air, replacing it with dryer air that feels more comfortable.

To further optimize your fans, get a little crafty. Tricks such as putting a container of ice cubes or a cold, wet sheet in front of the fan will lead to colder air being dispersed, as will hanging frozen water bottles from the back of the fan.

Stick To The Shadows

Finding a nice, shady spot is the key to spending time outside during summer in the South, and the same logic applies for the whole home. The more shade you can create, the better. Generate cooling shadows over your home by blocking paths for direct sunlight. Strategically placed trees and awnings can block out the sun and drastically reduce the solar temperature in the home, especially when you use them to protect west-facing windows.

Remember Lights Out

Depending on what kind of bulbs you’re using, your lights may be generating a great deal of heat. Incandescent bulbs are popular culprits, but switching to LED lights will stop the cycle, emitting much less heat and maybe even helping to lower your power bill at the end of the month. Also take care to turn off any lights, including overhead lights and lamps when you’re not using them to generate as little heat as possible.

Choose Better Bedding

There’s few things more uncomfortable than trying to sleep in a stiflingly hot bedroom. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, sometimes this is a reality. The heat will only be exacerbated if you’re sleeping with the same bedding that kept you cozy during the winter. Rather than heavy, heat-locking winter bedding, switch out your sheets and blankets for lighter, more breathable fabrics in the summer. Make your bed with natural fibers like linen and cotton to keep cool and stay away from flannel.

Maintain Your Cool

In addition to keeping your house cool, take steps to regulate your own body temperature to beat the heat. There are a number of ways to keep your body cooler involving what you’re touching, eating, and wearing.

Hold ice packs or cold compresses to your neck, wrists, or other pulse points for quick relief. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol which can be dehydrating and make you feel warmer. Additionally, avoid hot and rich meals and stick to water-heavy foods like melon, lettuce, and tomato. Eating spicy foods can also cause you to sweat and ultimately cool you down. Lastly, wear light-weight, breathable clothing that won’t trap heat in. You’ve put in so much hard work to keeping your home cool, you wouldn’t want to ruin it with a too-thick blouse.

This article was first published by Southern Living / Authored by Hallie Milstein

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