Learning how to cool down a room with no AC is crucial during the summer months. And who am I to teach you? Well, I lived in Paris during the 2019 summer heat wave—in a 7th-floor walk-up apartment with no AC. It got up to 108 degrees one day! I’ve also lived in California where there was no AC in most people’s homes. And, I spent a summer in Boulder, Colorado, with no AC—and it was often 90+ degrees outside.
Here are 16 tips and tricks for how to cool down a room with no AC—based on my real-life experience!
1. Turn on the bathroom vent fan.
The vent fan in your bathroom serves to suck out humidity and odors. It’ll also suck out the hot air. So leave this on all day WITH the bathroom door open.
2. Cover the windows so sunlight can’t get in.
The cheapest hack? Grab some aluminum foil and tape it over your window to block the sunlight out. Now, if you have an HOA, this might be against the rules.
A classier way to block out sunlight is to buy a window covering like this one.
3. Refrain from turning on any heat-generating appliances (stove, oven, clothes dryer, etc.) during the day.
If you can, wait to cook and do laundry at night when the sun is totally down! Using these appliances will add heat into an already hot house. Wait until the house cools down before you run these.
4. Line dry your clothes instead of using a dryer.
Even better, don’t use the dryer at all. Try line drying your clothes outside.
5. Make sure ceiling fans are spinning counterclockwise.
Did you know your ceiling fan can spin clockwise or counterclockwise? During the summer when it’s hot, you want your fan to spin COUNTERclockwise so you get a nice breeze blowing DOWN on you.
6. Leave windows open at night with a dual-direction window fan.
This dual-direction window fan SAVED me during a hot Colorado summer when I had no AC. We had many 90-degree days, and it was scorching inside the house.
The benefit of these dual fans is that one fan blows IN and one fan blows OUT. So what that means is, at night when it cools down, you can have one fan blowing the cool outside air INTO your house and the other and blowing the hot inside air OUT of your house. It really works, and it cooled down the house enough at night for me to sleep comfortably.
7. Sleep downstairs.
Hot air rises. So if you have a two-story home, those bedrooms upstairs are the hottest in the house. When I was in Colorado in a two-story townhouse, all the bedrooms were upstairs. So during the summer, I started sleeping on the couch downstairs. There was at LEAST a 5-degree temperature difference. It was way too hot upstairs.
8. Take a shower and go to bed damp.
I was in Paris for the notorious summer 2019 heat wave. One day, it got up 108 degrees Fahrenheit. To make matters worse, I was on a 7th-floor apartment with no AC.
How did I survive? Well, I would take a cold shower at night and go to bed with my hair and body still damp. Then, I would position the fan on me and leave the window open.
9. Get a fan, any fan.
Fans help. Sure, they’re not perfect, but they help. Get as big of a fan as you can get at let it blow air on you. This works especially well at night and when you are wet.
10. Place a wet towel over the fan.
Feel like the fan is just blowing hot air on you? Wet a towel and hang it over the fan. Make sure the towel is not DRIPPING wet. Just wet it enough so that it is damp. The air blowing out should now feel cooler.
11. Place a bucket of ice cubes in front of the fan.
One to step it up a notch? Fill a bucket with ice cubes, and place it in front of the fan (but NOT COVERING the fan completely) so that the air grazes the tops of the ice cubes. The air blowing onto you should now feel even cooler.
12. Go to bed on slightly damp sheets straight from the washing machine.
Wash your bedsheets at night, and then instead of placing them in the dryer, put them directly onto your bed. The slightly damp sheets will feel cooler than dry sheets.
13. Place a frozen water bottle, frozen food, or ice in a sandwich bag on the back of your neck.
When the temperatures rise—break out the ice! Dig around in your freezer for a bag of frozen peas, place some ice in a sandwich bag, or freeze a water bottle. Then place the frozen item on the back of your neck and lie down in bed with the fan blowing on you.
14. Eat cool/cold foods.
During the summer 2019 heat waves in Paris, I NEVER cooked in my apartment. It was too hot. Instead, I subsisted on cold salads I bought from Monoprix. They were delicious, and most importantly, they were COLD, so they didn’t warm me up.
15. Eat spicy foods.
WHAT? Yep. So when I was in Paris, a friend INSISTED that eating spicy foods on a hot day will cool you down. I didn’t believe her. But it looks like she was right. Spicy foods contain peppers, which contain capsaicin, which makes you sweat. Sweating helps cool you down when the sweat evaporates from your skin. So give it a try!
16. Get out of the house and go to a store with AC.
When all else fails, GET OUT OF THAT HOUSE. You don’t want to pass out or have a heat stroke. Go to a shopping mall or a store that has AC. During the 2019 Paris heat waves, on the hottest day of it (when it reached 108), I was strolling a packed BHV in Le Marais because it had AC.