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10 Ways to Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

by Tiffany in A Green Home

10 Ways to Stay Cool in Summer Without the AC

I have an AC unit in my house and chances are you do to. But if you are anything like me you would rather spend your money on some serious summer fun rather than serious summer electric bills. Blah!

To keep costs down we always try to figure out how we can get away with using the AC as little as possible and there are many ways to keep cool without cranking it up. You just have to get creative and be vigilant. Here are some of the ways I recommend staying cool without relying on the AC. If you have some too I would love to hear about them…comment below!

Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

1. Open windows – Buy an indoor/outdoor thermometer. When the temperature at night dips below your optimal indoor temperature, open as many windows in the house as you can and leave them open all night. Keep them open until the outdoor temperature starts to climb and then shut them. Open closet doors and cabinets at night too so they can release heat they are holding in.

2. Use blinds and heavy, dark colored curtains if you can, to keep sunlight and heat out of the house during the hottest months. The window quilts we use in the winter are great for this purpose. I also saw some curtains at Costco that claim to reduce your energy bills by 30% in the summer and winter…I may check those out.

3. Turn off the lights because they create heat. I try not to use lights at all during the day and we use them sparingly at night. Make sure you have CFL or LED bulbs too.

One neat way trick I learned from a college friend who had no money to pay high electric bills, is to buy cheap solar lights at a home improvement store. Sit them outside all day to charge and then bring them inside at night to use. They give off a lot of light and they do not create heat.

4. Use fans – It is amazing how much cooler you feel if the air around you is circulating. When the temperature is cooler outside (mornings and night) we place a fan right next to the window to blow cool air inside. We also put them in front of our beds at night because we HATE to be hot and sticky when we are trying to go to sleep.

5. Air dry sheets and towels by hanging them inside, in front of an open door. As the air blows them dry, cool air passes through them and into the house. You also save money by not using an electric dryer.

6. Get a haircut – I will use ANY excuse to cut all my hair off, LOL. Many summers I have kept my hair about 1-2 inches in total length during the summer months…I have even been known to shave the back completely off. Even if you don’t want to get THAT drastic it is still a good idea to get a shorter, summer cut.

7. Get wet – Take a short shower in the heat of the afternoon or hose yourself off. Often times I will take my t-shirt off and get it wet in the sink, wring it out, and then put it back on. Then I wear a damp shirt for a few hours and keep cool. I repeat as much as needed. A wet bandanna is a life saver too and you can put it in the freezer for a couple minutes to really get it cold.

I have also been known to stick my head under the sink a couple times to wet my hair. I learned that technique in Arizona when we would go to the zoo in the summer. Every 20 minutes or so I would douse myself in the drinking fountain and wear wet clothes around. Sometimes I would stand in front of the elephant fans too, hehe. You can also take a dip in the pool a couple times a day if you have one.

8. Eat homemade popsicles and other frozen treats and drink smoothies. We always keep plenty of these on hand and they don’t have to be super sugary either. Ours are usually smoothie pops or juice pops with the juice coming straight from the juicer with no sugar added. We also like fruit kebabs with grapes, berries, and pineapple skewered and frozen.

9. Drink water. It really helps you stay cool to drink cool water. I fill up my water purifying pitcher several times a day and let it chill in the fridge.

10. Don’t use the oven or stove if at all possible. Now might be a great time to experiment with raw foods that don’t need to be cooked. In the summer months a green smoothie and fresh fruit plate makes a wonderful lunch and a fresh green salad is a simple and delicious dinner! An instant pot makes meals quickly. You can also cook in the morning, perhaps making pasta for a cold pasta salad that evening. Outdoor cooking is also a great way to eat without the heat.

Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

  • Katherine B

    Great ideas! What we also do is use our whole house fan – it speeds up the process of drawing in the cool air in the morning & evening. Also, having solar panels on the roof means that they absorb much of the heat so the second floor doesn’t get so hot. Finally set your thermostat high ~ 76/78 so the AC is the last resort.

  • Great list. Thanks so much for sharing. A lot of people also forget that A TON of heat can come from the attic. Make sure you have proper attic ventilation, so attic heat doesn’t impact the temperature within the house. Solar-powered attic fans, such as the Solar Star attic fan, are an even better way to cool this space without adding to utility bills. I think I’m going to go get myself a popsicle right now … :o)

  • Kimberly

    I use the ac fan only (I turn the temperature on the ac up to 99 to do this) to circulate air. I wish I had an old fashion attic fan, like we had at the farm that pulled air in, up and out keeping the house cool.

  • Julie

    Wow, these are wonderful tips to know, so thank you for taking the time to do this for everyone. I love all your points and will keep these in mind because as you know Arizona summers are not very cool at all.

  • andiscandis

    And plant trees!!! It may take a while to pay off, but the mature trees that shade our house keep us from needing an A/C at all! On a hot day when you step into our shady yard, you can feel the temperature drop 15 degrees.

  • This is awesome~I HATE the heat but am still hoping (and determined) to get through summer using as little A/C as I can! (((((HUGS)))) sanidi

  • This is awesome~I HATE the heat but am still hoping (and determined) to get through summer using as little A/C as I can! (((((HUGS)))) sanidi

  • Angel

    I never thought of bringing the solar lights inside for use in the evening. That’s an awesome idea!

  • simplifiedmom

    Great suggestions!! I can’t wait to get started on some of these ideas :) I especially love the solar lights and frozen fruit kabobs! My kiddos will love them. Caroline *mommy of two

  • During the morning we open all the windows on the shaded side and let the hot air out. During the evening we do it again and usually there’s a little breeze and that helps blow out the hot air. We totally miss shutters.

  • Kathy

    Yay for this post!! I love all these tips. My mom used to walk around with a wet washcloth around her neck in the summer – I used to make fun of her when I was a kid, but now I do the same! :)

    Your tip about not cooking indoors is a great one. We use our grill a lot in the summer and if I want to cook indoors, I try to use my small plug-in electric frying pan. It doesn’t heat up the house and uses less energy than my stove top. If I need to bake something, I try to plan ahead and do it after dark when it’s a bit cooler.

    I may have to try that solar light trick – I love soft lighting and bet this would work perfect.

    And one more tip – keep the TV off! There is so much to do during the summer months that there’s really no need to sit in front of the television – get out and enjoy nature instead.

  • Try putting ice packs in front of the fan( put a towel under it). As it melts it will cool the air that the fan will blow. Buy them on sale and stock up the freezer, the fuller a freezer is the less energy it uses!
    Hope that helps!

  • I’m not, not, not cutting my hair!

    My solution is to keep it braided or pulled up during the summer. I love having long hair, but I know it’s not for everyone.

    In general, great tips. We’re planning a summer science project with the kids to make a solar oven. They get to learn about solar cooking, I get to cook without heating the house up.

    • Jenn

      ooohhh…you should post a link to your solar oven…I’d love to try and make one too! I’m with you on the hair, I just started growing mine out again so can’t imagine cutting it all off. However, am highly considering chopping my son’s hair as he is one sweaty little kid when it’s hot…i’m in love with his curls though :(

  • Great ideas! My husband also installed working shutters on the windows with the most exposure. They are painted white to reflect the heat, and can be closed when the sun is beating down. We are also thinking of painting our roof white, since we live in the South with a long hot season, to reflect the sun’s radiant heat


  • jasmine

    We hit the breaker to our stove. It’s easier to make another plan or use the outdoor barbecue then go and switch the breaker. Opening and closing windows just becomes apart of the bedtime routine. Don’t forget rain barrels for the garden. Thanks for the tips.

  • Our home feels like a sauna during the hot summer months (we don’t have many in N. Michigan) and until two years ago we had no air conditioning. We’ve added ceiling fans, use our blinds and decided to only cool one part of house for sleeping purposes. We go outside, to the pool or use the sprinkler. It saves us money this way and the ceiling fans really do work!

  • As a person who just moved from Seattle to Phoneix, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    For those of us who are still attached to cooking food – is there a place you can keep a crock pot where the heat won’t be a big bother (like with the cars, or on the back pourch)? That way you still have your cooked meal, but your kitchen it’s heated up.

    get a deferninator for your pets, if you can take out their undercoat they’ll be much happier!

  • Donna

    I wish I could open my windows at night but there is a train about 1/2 mile away that goes by here all day and night and our dogs like to bark all night. In the spring and fall during the day I open the screened windows and door.We have ceiling fans in most of our rooms which helps a lot.

  • Your tip # 5 is great. Especially since using an electric dryer on a hot day does add some heat to your house that then makes the AC work harder to get rid of that heat. A dreaded double whammy!

    If you dry your laundry and clothes on a clothes drying rack that is set up under a ceiling fan and you will have saved a ton of energy by not using the clothes dryer at all.

  • Cara Mirabella

    I live in a 1950’s Cape Cod that doesn’t have an attic – so the upstairs gets HOT HOT HOT! In order to be at all comfortable, we use the wall-unit air conditioner set at 78 and turn-on the ceiling fans. It cools off both bedrooms, bathroom and hallway doing this. I also open the top part of our double-hung window so the circulating hot air has someplace to escape.

  • Your right tip number Five is so great my AC unit just went out but man that really works

  • Retta

    I tell ya what, I don’t want to turn on the a.c., and I want to hold off as long as possibly can. We used box fans when I was a kid, that was all we had to keep cool. We did set them in the windows at night, and they helped A LOT!!!!! But you learn something new everyday. I did not know about opening cabinets at night, and the college kids using solar lights for inside at night is a REALLY GREAT IDEA… they are quite bright I have four them outside, but I will by some for inside use and they would probably come in handy in case of storm in case of power outage. Thank you everyone for your tips, I WLL BE USING THESE FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS I can’t get over how expensive it is to cool a home with a.c.

  • Allison

    We in FL, and determined to keep our AC off for as long as possible. Every window except the small kitchen one has thick energy saving drapes or shades on it. As soon as we get up in the morning (8am and it’s already 79 outside!) the windows get shut, and shades closed. Around 7:30pm when it’s the same temp outside as in or lower, windows get opened back up. We also purchased 4 box fans that we put in the windows ($50 – 2 were bought for just a couple bucks at a thrift store). We put 2 on one side of the house facing in, and 2 at the other side of the house facing out. Works similarly to a whole house fan to get the air moving and house cooled off.

    Another tip – keep your feet cool. If it’s hot out, your extremities are where you transfer the most heat. If you cool off your feet, you’ll feel cooler overall as well. Step into that kiddie pool for a couple minutes with your kids!

  • Marlies

    Thank for your idea’s we do not have central air at all, in our house. We are going to try your tips like the wet t-shirt. one. And many more.

  • Kaitlyn Sosebee

    some of these are really great tips

  • Coupon Cook

    I set up an outdoor kitchen. I have a table with a toaster oven, and space for my crockpot. I’ve got a grill with burner eye outside too. 

  • Audrey Miller

    Wow! These are great tips on keeping yourself cool. We all do love summer season not unless we’re just at home and doing our home chores. I heard about this redneck air-conditioner and it is really amazing. A DIY craft that can actually help you to have a chiller home. –