How to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

When the temperature rises, it’s natural that your mind turns to air conditioning. Who wouldn’t want to take the edge off that heat, so you can feel more comfortable during the day, and sleep more soundly at night?

But air conditioning isn’t without its problems. For example:

  • Air conditioning units cost a lot of money to buy
  • Air conditioning can be noisy, preventing people from sleeping
  • Air conditioning can dry out the air, making some people feel ill
  • Air conditioners require an “exhaust” pipe to the outside world, which can be expensive and impractical to fit

So while air conditioning may be the most reliable way of keeping your home cool in summer, its not the only way. For those of us in the UK, where the temperature only occasionally reaches “air con level”, you might be better off with a more cost-effective solution for those few muggy nights each year…

Here are some of our favourite steps for enjoying the summer sunshine – without baking alive…

Close Your Curtains/Blinds

First things first, if a hot day is planned then you want to prevent as much of that sun from entering your home as possible. Keep those curtains closed from sunrise to sunset and you’ll help to reflect much of that heat back out of your home. For best results consider some close-fitting blinds (blackout blinds are ideal) that rest close to the window, preventing a hot pocket of air building up against your window pane.

Invest in a Fan

Household fans have come a long way in recent years. These days it’s entirely possible to purchase a large fan for very little money. Setting a few up in key areas of your home (such as near the sofa) can really help to take the edge off the heat.

During the last heat wave I experimented with placing a large desk fan on a small table in the bedroom – directed at the bed – so that the cool air blew gently over us while sleeping. It worked a treat, and cost a tiny fraction of a proper air conditioning unit.

Consider an Air Cooler

Air coolers are distinctly different to air conditioners. They may not get your home *quite* as cool but they’re both cheaper to buy and easier to fit, because they don’t need an exhaust leading outdoors.

In essence they’re a unit which incorporates a powerful fan, and a place to insert ice blocks. Simply take an ice block out of your freezer, pop it in the cooler and off you go. The fan will blow air over the ice, naturally cooling it over time. The effect can be considerable.

Drink Cold Drinks

Popping a bottle of water in the fridge, making some fresh ice cubes for drinks or enjoying a bowl of ice cream can all help to take the edge off the heat.

Take a Cold Shower

Particularly before bed, taking a cold – ok, cool– shower can really help to bring down your core body temperature. All being well, you’ll have fallen asleep long before your body temperature rises again, making it much easier to sleep on hot, muggy evenings.

Harness the Power of Evaporation

One of the most unusual, yet exciting, ideas for keeping yourself cool is to use the seemingly magical properties of evaporation.

Have you ever got out of the shower or swimming pool on a cold winters day and felt yourself getting colder and colder? As it turns out, when water evaporates off a surface (such as your skin) it uses energy to do so. It takes this energy in the form of heat. In other words, anything moist will gently cool down over time as the water evaporates away.

Popular in hotter parts of the world (such as Texas), if you’re really struggling with heat at night, consider moistening your bed sheets. Give them a good dunk in the sink, then wring out as much water as you can to leave them damp but not dripping. Then simply lie back and enjoy the cooling effects – especially if you have a fan gently blowing over the bed.

So those are my tricks – but what are yours? How do you stay cool on hot summer’s evenings?

Air conditioning might make life more comfortable when its hot, but it can quickly get very expensive indeed. If you want to save money, or simply don't have an air conditioning unit, try these proven tips for staying cool in summer without the need for your aircon unit...