There’s a brief period every spring when the weather is blissfully tolerable, with temperatures hovering around the halfway point between frigid and scorching. What a time. Windows are open, the sun is out, and everyone is giddy with that “not too hot, not too cold, and all you need is a light jacket” type of vibe. But then you blink and it’s over. All too suddenly, you’ve descended into the sticky, sweltering depths of summer.
I know I’m one of the lucky ones, with a fully functioning AC system that pumps cool air through every room of my house. My heart goes out to the poor souls who get by with only a window AC unit or (gasp!) no AC at all in the summer. But still, in this economy? I don’t want to spend a fortune on keeping my space cool. So if you, like me, would like to keep your utility bill somewhat reasonable, or if you’re just trying to survive without the help of an HVAC system (again, my condolences), here’s how to cool down a home fast without the help of AC.
Cover your windows
If the sun is beating down into your living room all day, you’re not doing yourself any favors. In the heat of the day, keep your blinds and curtains closed to avoid letting in excess heat. To keep things extra cool, opt for insulated curtains or shades that can completely block out the sunlight.
Turn on exhaust fans
Pro tip: The exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom aren’t just for clearing out cooking smells or excess steam after a shower. They can also draw hot air and humidity out of your home, making the room feel cooler overall. However, this works best if the temperature inside is hotter than it is outside, so save this trick for when you’re really desperate.
Use fans strategically
Contrary to popular belief, fans don’t actually help to cool down a room. Instead, their main purpose is to cool down the people in the room by creating a breeze. So if you’re going to turn on a fan, make sure you can feel it—and don’t bother leaving it on if you’re not in the room. You can also add extra cooling power to a tabletop fan or box fan with a bowl of ice cubes. Simply place the bowl directly in front of the fan so it pushes the cool air into the room.
For ceiling fans, the direction of the blades also matters. If you can access it, adjust your ceiling fan to rotate counterclockwise during the summer so it pulls hot air up and pushes cool air down.
Avoid turning on the oven
Cranking up the oven is only going to make your home hotter, so no-cook recipes are your friend. That goes for any other heat-producing appliances, too, including your toaster, dryer, and even the dishwasher. If you need to do a load of laundry or dishes, at least wait until the hottest part of the day has passed.
Open your windows at night
If the temperature dips in the evening, take the opportunity to throw open your windows. The cooler night breeze will help bring down the temperature indoors. Just remember to shut them again in the morning before it gets too hot.
Swap out your bedding
Trying to sleep in a hot room is the absolute worst. Make it easier by switching out your bedding, mattress topper, and pillows for cooling options during the summer. Look for fabrics like cotton, linen, or bamboo in a percale weave for the most breathable options.
Cool down your body
If you can’t get your whole home cool, focus on what’s most important: you. Lowering your body temperature will offer some instant relief in a hot room. Choose breathable clothing, stay hydrated, and apply a cold compress to pulse points at your neck and wrists. And if all else fails, a cold shower can be a welcome reset.