50 Effective Ways to Cool Down a Room without AC (and Save on Energy!)
June 30, 2020
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The modern air conditioning system, invented in 1902, rests on thousands of years of innovative homespun cooling methods.
For example, the ancient Romans circulated water through the walls of their homes to stay cool. Meanwhile, President James Garfield cooled off in the late 1800s by shooting air through cotton sheets soaked in ice water.
Why not borrow one of those DIY cooling methods? Energy costs can add up quickly, especially in the summer when your air conditioner rarely shuts off. Whether you’d like to slash your energy bill or cut down on air conditioning costs completely, here’s how to cool down a room without AC.
Explore tips on how to cool a room with fans, how to stay cool at night and even how to re-landscape your home to take advantage of natural shade.
1. Create a Low-Pressure System at Night
Take advantage of cooler outside temperatures at night. Before you go to bed, open a window in one room of your home (room one). In another room at the opposite end of your home (room two), open another window and point a fan out that window. That fan will rid your home of warm air and create a low-pressure system for cool air to flow into room one.
2. Raise Your Fans Up
Remember that warm air rises. That means that if you have tall windows or a screened patio door, you should try to push air out toward the top of the window or door, not the bottom. You can do this by placing your fans on a high stool or shelf and facing them outward.
3. Switch the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans
Pay attention to which way your ceiling fans spin. When it’s hot in your home, they should spin counterclockwise. That way, the fans push cool air downward toward the floor. (On the other hand, when it’s cold in your home, your fans should spin clockwise. That pulls cool air up toward the ceiling and pushes warm air toward the floor and along the walls.) Your ceiling fan should have a directional switch on the motor.
4. Funnel Cool Air Up From Your Basement
Basements tend to be a few degrees cooler than the rest of your home. Use that natural difference in temperatures to lower the temperature of your upper floors. Point a fan upward from your basement to the rest of your home.
5. Keep Your Fans in Good Condition
In addition to strategically placing fans around your home to allow for maximum cooling efficiency, you should also take good care of them. For example, you should remove dirt and dust on fan blades, which can heat up motors and cause them to run less efficiently. You should also make sure that your fans rotate smoothly. Any irregular movements can decrease efficiency.
6. Use Your Bathroom Exhaust Fans
Bathroom fans not only exist to dispel unpleasant odors — they also remove a lot of the moisture in the air. In addition to allowing mold to grow, moisture makes your bathroom feel warmer and more unpleasant. Keep your bathroom fan on while you shower or take a bath and for several minutes after you leave the bathroom.
7. Make Your Own AC
There are plenty of ways to make DIY air conditioners. In many cases, all you need is a tub of ice, a portable fan and some tubing. The process of cooling air by pushing it over ice dates back hundreds of years and, in many cases, is a lot less expensive than cranking your air conditioner up.
8. Use Toaster Ovens or Microwaves
Toaster or convection ovens use up to half as much energy as full-sized ovens, according to Consumer Reports. That means they also release a lot less heat. Keep your kitchen as cool as possible by finding alternatives to the traditional oven. Microwaves also keep the kitchen cool and are more energy-efficient than ovens.
9. Try Slow Cookers
As the name implies, slow cookers heat your food gradually. That means there isn’t much heat released into your kitchen. On the other end of the spectrum, try a pressure cooker, which accelerates the cooking process and allows you to spend less time heating up your kitchen.
10. Cook Outside
Or better yet, avoid heating up your kitchen at all and cook your hot food outside on the grill. Of course, standing outside near the hot grill will make it seem even cooler when you go back inside!
11. Limit Your Preheat Time
If you decide to use your oven, be sure to estimate correctly how long it takes for your oven to preheat and how long you need to prepare your meal. Many people underestimate the time needed to chop vegetables or assemble their dishes, so they leave the oven on unnecessarily while they finish these tasks. Prepare your recipe ahead of time and ensure that you don’t leave the oven on longer than it needs to be.
12. Match Your Pots and Pans to Your Burners
Try not to use small pots or pans on large stovetop burners because that leads to unnecessary heat released into your kitchen. Also, remember to cover your pots and pans to limit heat transfer to the air (and to cook your food more quickly).
13. Run Your Dishwasher at Night
If you’ve ever handled a plate that recently came out of the dishwasher, you know that dishwashers can get extremely hot. To minimize the impact of the heat escaping from your dishwasher, try washing your dishes at night when temperatures outside (and hopefully inside) tend to be cooler.
14. Dry Your Clothes Outside
Just as dishwashers heat up your kitchen, your dryer heats up your laundry room and the surrounding area. Even on the delicate or gentle cycles, the air inside of dryers can reach 125°F, according to GE Appliances. Try drying your clothes outside using the summer breeze.
15. Towel Dry Your Hair
Even modern energy-efficient hair dryers can heat up your bathroom or bedroom pretty quickly. Try towel or air-drying your hair to make the room feel a bit cooler.
16. Use LED and Fluorescent Lights
Traditional incandescent light bulbs release about 90% of their energy as heat. On the other hand, compact fluorescent light bulbs only release about 80% of their energy as heat, and LED light bulbs release very little heat, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cool down your home by avoiding inefficient incandescent light bulbs. For deals on new light bulbs, check out these Ace Hardware coupons.
17. Keep Your Refrigerator Grill Clean
Dust off the front-facing grill of your refrigerator to allow for plenty of air to flow to the condenser. If air can’t make its way to the condenser, your refrigerator will have to work overtime, which ultimately releases heat into the kitchen.
18. Open Your Refrigerator Sparingly
Consumer Reports estimates that every time you open your refrigerator door, you release as much as 30% of the cooled air. Every time your refrigerator has to work harder to cool the air inside, it releases heat into your kitchen.
19. Cover Your Food in the Refrigerator
Uncovered foods in your refrigerator release moisture. The more moisture your refrigerator has to remove from the air, the harder it will have to work, and the more heat it will release. Limit the moisture in the air by covering your food.
20. Purchase a Dehumidifier
Humid air within your home can feel sticky and unpleasant while dry air can feel a bit cooler. Purchase a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. You may also want to purchase a dehumidifier to promote a healthier lifestyle. Damp indoor environments can lead to nasal and throat symptoms, coughing and wheezing, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
21. Unplug Unused Electronics
Electronic devices that are off but still plugged into the wall continue to use energy. That means that many also continue to release heat. Unplug your electronics when you’re not using them.
22. Invest in Insulated Cellular Shades
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, insulated cellular shades can reduce unwanted solar heat transmission through your windows by as much as 80%. The DOE says that shades that open from both the top and the bottom allow homeowners the most flexibility to control entering daylight. Check out these Lowe’s coupons on home improvement items like shades and blinds.
23. Use Horizontal Slatted Blinds
The DOE recommends completely closing your blinds to reduce heat transmission through your windows. Alternatively, if you’d like to let some light in, they recommend adjusting the slats to redirect sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling. This will diffuse the light without too much heat or glare.
24. Consider the Color of Your Curtains
Steer clear of dark-colored curtains and drapes — these colors absorb the most heat and will warm up your room. The DOE recommends medium-colored curtains and drapes that have white plastic backings, which it says can reduce heat gains by as much as 33%.
25. Hang Two Draperies Together
Two overlapping draperies around your windows can create a tighter air space around your windows than just one drapery, according to the DOE. This minimizes the loss of cool air from your home.
26. Choose Window Films Carefully
Window films are adhesive coverings applied to windows to block heat gain. The DOE recommends using silver, mirror-like films instead of colored films and placing them on east- and west-facing windows for the maximum benefit.
27. Consider Spectrally Selective Coatings
According to the DOE, spectrally selective coatings can filter out up to 70% of the heat that the sun normally transmits through your windows. At the same time, they are designed to let in plenty of light.
28. Patch Cracks Around Your Windows and Doors
Take a candle or other flame and move it around your windows and door frames. If the flame flickers, then you know that you have a draft in your home. Seal up cracks in your foundation to prevent cool air from leaking out.
29. Seal Off Your Doors
Cool air within your home can escape through the cracks at the bottom of your doors. Place rolled up towels or blankets at the base of your doors (or buy door insulation strips) to keep the cool air inside.
30. Insulate Your Attic
Many people know that a properly insulated attic prevents heat from escaping in the winter. In the summer, as the sun beats down on your roof, your insulated attic can limit the amount of heat that enters your home as well.
31. Use Light Floors and Countertops
Within your home, opt for light-colored floors, appliances and countertops. Although these measures may not have as large of a heat reduction effect as using light-colored curtains and drapes, they can still help you cool off a bit.
32. Make Your Own Cooling Curtains
In addition to closing your curtains and drapes at certain times in the day when the sun is most intense, you might consider making cooling curtains. Spray your curtains with cold water, open the window and allow the breeze to flow through the damp curtains.
33. Create a Current Without Fans
The air pressure at various places around your home is not equal. For example, the air near the downwind section of your home has a lower pressure than the air near the upwind side. If you have double-hung windows, you can take advantage of the different air pressures and create a current through your home. Open the bottom sections of your windows on the upwind side and the top sections of the windows on the downwind side and let the air flow through your home.
34. Sleep with Cotton Sheets
Cotton consistently ranks among the most breathable fabrics. Use that to your advantage and sleep with cotton sheets instead of less breathable materials, like polyester.
35. Place a Cold Towel on Your Pulse Points
To make your room feel cooler, try cooling off yourself first. Place a cold towel on one of your pulse points (for example, the bottom of your throat, your wrist, inside your elbow or behind your knee) to cool off more quickly.
36. Try the Egyptian Method
Experiment with this popular technique that involves sleeping only with a top sheet. Before bed, wet the sheet and wring it out until it’s damp and cool. Sleep with the sheet up against your skin to feel cooler throughout the night.
37. Keep Your Feet Cool
Load ice into a hot water bottle, seal it up tightly, wrap it in a towel and place the bottle near your feet. This will keep your body cool and your sheets dry.
38. Sleep on a Raised Bed
If you can increase airflow within your bedroom, you can make the room feel cooler. Sleep on a bed that allows space between the bottom of the bed and the floor. That way, air will flow above and below you. If you store items under your bed, clear them out to allow for air to flow.
39. Doze off on the Floor
Alternatively, since warm air rises, you might want to sleep on the floor where the air tends to be cooler. Think of it as a camping trip in your bedroom!
40. Close Your Closet Door
It’s easier to cool a small space than a large space. Keep your closet door closed so that the air from your fans or the breeze from outside can circulate in a smaller area and make your bedroom feel cooler.
41. Place Houseplants by Your Windows
If your home is excessively humid, plants can help. Find plants that can survive in muggy conditions. They will naturally absorb some of the moisture in the air and make your room feel a bit cooler. Plants placed in front of your windows can also physically block some of the incoming sunlight.
42. Plant Trees for Shade
Plant deciduous trees on the south and east sides of your home to provide cover from the sun. Since deciduous trees lose their leaves every year, they still will allow plenty of sunlight into your home in the winter. On the west side of your home, you should plant deciduous trees that are close to the ground to block the low afternoon sun, according to Williams College.
43. Cover Your Home’s Exterior with Vines
If planting trees isn’t an option, consider covering your home’s exterior walls with fast-growing vines. Hops, Dutchman’s Pipe and Trumpet Creeper all grow relatively quickly and can cover large areas, according to the University of Vermont Extension.
44. Plant Additional Groundcover
The air temperature above groundcover can be as much as 15°F cooler than above asphalt, gravel or concrete, according to Williams College. That’s because plants provide cooling through a process called evapotranspiration. Make sure that you have plenty of grass or other greenery around your home to cool the area significantly.
45. Install Window Awnings
Awnings can shield your home from the sun’s heat quite effectively. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that window awnings can reduce solar heat gain by as much as 65% on windows that face south and 77% on windows that face west.
46. Build an Outdoor Room
Build an awning over the side of your home and create an outdoor oasis. Plant trees or large shrubs to shield yourself from the low afternoon sun and enjoy a breezy outdoor “room” that’s cooler than inside.
47. Use Exterior Shutters and Shades
Shutters and shades also can reduce solar heat gain. They’re usually made of durable materials like wood, steel, aluminum or vinyl and can be quite effective at keeping the sun out.
48. Apply a Reflective Coating to Your Roof
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, roughly a third of the heat that builds up in your home enters through the roof. The NREL recommends applying a reflective coating — either white latex or a mixture that contains asphalt, glass and aluminum particles — to your roof.
49. Install a Radiant Barrier Under Your Roof
You can also reflect heat by installing what’s known as a radiant barrier under your roof. It’s a sheet of aluminum foil with a paper backing. If it’s installed correctly, it can reduce heat gains by about 25%, according to the NREL.
50. Lighten Up Your Wall Color
The NREL notes that white exterior walls absorb less heat than darker walls, though it says it’s more important to ensure that your roof doesn’t absorb too much heat.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that nearly 90% of homes in the U.S. use air conditioning, and the average American household spent almost $300 on home cooling in 2015.
Give your air conditioner a break and cool down quickly and efficiently with these techniques. Also check out these Compact Appliance coupons for potential deals on portable air conditioners for small and large rooms.
Sources: Slate | The White House Historical Association | Home Depot | Consumer Reports | GE Appliances | U.S. Department of Energy | Environmental Protection Agency | U.S. Department of Energy | National Renewable Energy Laboratory | Williams College | University of Vermont Extension
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