Desperate Ways to Stay Cool on the Hottest Days of the Summer

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Melanie Riccardi/Stocksy)

While the thought of making it through a hot summer without any air conditioning might seem excruciating, it’s by no means impossible. So before you freak out and book a trip to Antarctica, consider all the ways you can cool down your place DIY-style. Thanks to all of the AC-less generations before us—shout-out to our grandparents!—there are plenty of trustworthy strategies for reducing heat inside your home; ones that won’t jack up your electricity bill either. So crack a window, grab a glass of ice water (or better yet, a whole dang bucket), and read ahead for nine foolproof ways to stay chill during the scorching summer heat.

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1. Turn off electronics and non-LED light bulbs

This may seem like a no-brainer but all those lights and electronics you have turned on are producing heat, so do yourself a favor and switch them off whenever possible. Long summer days mean more natural light, so take full-advantage and stay unplugged when you’re at home.

2. Sleep low

Hot air rises, so try to sleep as low to the ground as possible to stay cool during the night. If you live in a multiple-level home, this might mean moving your bedroom to the basement (or at least avoiding the top floor). If you live in a one-story space, consider moving your mattress to the floor (or lowering your bed frame) to keep things cool while you sleep.

3. Freeze your bed sheets

Nothing helps you sleep through a heat wave quite like a set of frozen bed sheets. Just stick your sheets inside of a plastic bag and place in the freezer for fifteen minutes, and before you know it, you’ll be drifting off to dreamland.

4. Flip your fan

Who knew you could position your fan so it actually blows hot air out of your window (instead of around your place)? All you have to do to create cross-ventilation is simply turn the face of your fan toward your window (or run your ceiling fan counter-clockwise) and voila: you can suck out hot air.

5. Skip lotions and moisturizers

Believe it or not, many popular moisturizers—especially petroleum-based products—are also known for trapping body heat. So the next time you’re itching to slather on some oil-based lotion, reach for a soothing, water-based spray instead.

6. Rig up a hammock or cot for sleeping

Mattresses absorb your body heat and tend tomake you hotter than you were before you feel asleep. So to keep cool while you snooze, consider a hammock, cot, or any other frameless furnishing that allows air to flow freely around you.

7. Hang a wet sheet in front of an open window

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: few things work faster for cooling off your hot home than hanging up a wet sheet in front of an open window. When air passes through the damp cloth, it creates a moist breeze that’s cool as a cucumber.

8. Ice, ice baby

When it comes to surviving the summer heat sans AC, there is no such thing as having too much ice handy. Not only will placing ice (or an ice pack or cold compress) on your pulse points—think: wrists, elbows, ankles, neck, and behind the knees—immediately reduce your body temperature, a large bucket of ice positioned in front of a fan is a joyous (and cooling) thing.

9. Hang loose

It goes without saying, but the less you wear during a summer heat wave, the more comfortable you’ll probably be. Stick with loose clothing and pajamas (made with breathable fabrics like cotton and linen) and whenever you’re up for it—and in the privacy of your own home—go au natural!