9 Tricks to Beat the Heat (Without Turning Up the AC)

updated May 9, 2019
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(Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

It’s summer and if you’re not getting out of town, chances are you’ll find yourself fighting a battle with the heat between now and the fall. Maybe you’re like us and you don’t have air conditioning, maybe you’re trying not to rack up big bills, or maybe you’re trying to be more environmentally-friendly. Here are some tricks we’ve accumulated through years of grinning and bearing (and sometimes baring) it.

  1. Keep the curtains or the shutters closed: Keeping the sun from streaming directly in helps keep your place a little cooler.
  2. Hang a wet sheet in front of the window: when the air passes through the damp cloth, the moisture cools it off.
  3. In the same vein, try a bowl of ice in front of a fan: Let the cool air blow over you.
  4. Turn your fan around to face out: And blow the hot air out of the house. If you have a ceiling fan, turn it so it spins in the opposite direction and blows the hot air up and out.
  5. Arm yourself with a spray bottle filled with chilled water: Douse yourself liberally. As the water evaporates, it cools you down. You can also try plunging your hands into a bowl of ice water.
  6. Turn off (and maybe even unplug) your appliances: Your computer, your tv, your chargers — all give off heat, as do your dishwasher and your clothes dryer. Try drying your dishes and clothes the old fashioned way (air drying and line drying). You’ll save energy and keep the house cooler.
  7. Switch to CFLs: not only are they good for the environment because they use less electricity than conventional bulbs but the bulbs don’t get nearly as hot.
  8. If you have a white noise machine, try rain or waves: The cool sounds will help you feel cooler.
  9. Strip your house of its rugs, throws and knick-knacks: Try filling it with plants instead. It’s a visual trick that, like the aural trick above, works to fool your mind; bare surfaces look cooler which in turn makes you feel cooler.

What are your tricks for staying cool?