Labor Day has come and gone and Summer Fridays are officially a thing of the past, but summer’s not quite over yet. And with cities like New York still experiencing heat wave temps, we’re all about soaking up the hot, sunny days for as long as possible. If air conditioning isn’t part of the plan or you’re just looking to turn it off for the remainder of summer to save a few bucks for more fun tasks (ahem, a solid rosé stash and an epic cheese and charcuterie spread), there are a bevy of ways to cool down without AC.
We asked several of the top interior designers, stylists, and tastemakers to share their most interesting hacks and products for staying cool without needing to invest in traditional air conditioning—and they delivered. Read on to discover what they had to say.
Switch Out Bed Linens
A simple but effective way to cool down is changing up bed sheets and comforters. And it makes perfect sense. Just as wearing a wool sweater in the peak of summer doesn’t fly, neither do heavy linens.
“In my home, we have summer-weight and winter-weight bedclothes,” notes Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza, Brand Editor at House Method. “Not only does swapping bedding keep your sheets and bedspreads in better shape for longer, it’s the best way to regulate temperature at night.”
Seek out cotton percale sheets. “Percale is a tight weave so while these are heavier than most sheets they actually provide better air circulation and keep you from sweating,” McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza adds. “For a bedspread, try a simple cotton quilt without batting—and if you sleep especially hot, skip the top sheet altogether.”
Cotton will allow you to sleep “cooler and lighter,” notes Jill King of Styling the New West, who says the fabric will also help you avoid kicking off the covers, which will drastically interrupt a solid, sound sleep.
…And Your Nighttime Attire
The same idea stands true for nighttime attire. McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza recommends sleeping in lightweight fabrics such as cottons and linens to stay cool and calm. “Or better yet, sleep in the buff—nothing’s cooler than that,” she says.
Open Windows During the Nighttime
In picturesque mountain towns like Jackson, Wyoming—the place Claire Owen Adams, owner of boutique marketing and business development firm COA., calls home—air conditioning isn’t the norm when it comes to houses.
“The key to keeping your house cool during the summer is this: open up all of your windows at night, let as much cool air in as possible,” she recommends. “First thing in the morning, close your windows and draw the shades—it locks the cool air inside, really.”
This method prevents letting heat from the sunshine in; she also suggests investing in light filtering cellular shades. “Really, any window covering that blocks light would work,” she adds. Just remember to keep windows and doors closed during the day, or you’ll let that coveted cool air escape. Photography by iStock
Create a Cross Breeze
Creating a cross breeze seems like a no-brainer, but many get this method wrong. Instead of opening windows directly across from each other, McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza advises opening windows at the highest and lowest points in your home. “Warm air will come in through the lower windows and exit through the higher ones,” she says.
Eat Spicy Food
In countries such as Thailand, where sweltering heat is the norm, spicy foods are consumed to cool off. Certain peppers and spices contain a chemical called capsaicin, prompting you to sweat while eating. So, dial up the spice level at your favorite Thai joint and prepare to cool down the natural way as your blood circulation increases and your body’s internal temperature is raised, forcing an instant chill effect by way of a sweaty forehead.
Cool Down your Body and Face
Don’t sleep on cooling beauty products—they exist, and they’re lifesavers. There’s nothing more refreshing than a body and face spritz-down. Lilit Caradanian, CEO of Elcie Cosmetics, swears by the brand’s Hydra Enhancer to cool down on-the-go. “You can use it to prep for makeup application by hydrating and cooling your skin,” she says. “You can also use it after applying makeup throughout the day anytime you feel your skin needs a pick-me-up.”
A refreshing all-over body mist (like Sun Bum’s Cool Down Spray) will seal the deal, especially if you spray yourself and then sit in front of a fan for a few minutes. Need an extra boost? Slather on an ultra-invigorating mask, such as this Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask, and you’ll legit be cool as a cucumber.
Chill Out, Literally
Body temperature is a key player when it comes to cooling off, and there are several super easy ways to chill out without spending a dime. First up, multitask and sip on a glass of ice cold water, applying it to pulse points to ultimately cool the body down. Alternatively, go the old school method and place a bowl or pitcher of ice cold water behind a fan. It’s simple but it works.
Freeze Your Sheets
An hour before bedtime, toss your sheets in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer for a chilly treat. Sure, it won’t last the entire night, but cold sheets will allow the body to cool down and help you fall asleep. Another simple trick is avoiding spooning your significant other during the heatwave months, which tends to drastically heat things up. Bonus: Freeze a bottle of water and rest your feet on it while counting sheep.
Take A Hot Shower
Partaking in a hot, steamy shower might seem uninviting, but doing so will drastically cool down the body temp in the long run by way of increasing blood flow to the skin and heat loss from the body. You will feel a lot cooler as soon as you step out, especially if you stand in front of a fan for a few minutes to dry off.
Invest in House Plants
“Don’t ask me to get into the science behind this, but adding some greens will help cool your home while also introducing a stylish bit of nature to your decor,” notes Caitlin Murray, founder and interior designer at Black Lacquer Design. If you’re a plant connoisseur, turn to stylish plants like fiddle leaf figs and ferns. “Aloe Vera and golden Pothos are great options as well for anyone without a green thumb,” she adds.
Tweak Ceiling Fans
“This sounds like a small adjustment, but set your ceiling fans to turn counter clockwise and crank them up to the highest speed,” says King. “You’ll become the AC guru of all your friends as you create a breeze-like effect in your room.”
Invest in Stylish Blackout Shades
Adding blackout roman shades or blackout drapes to your windows is a polished way to block out light (and heat). There are a ton of design options and affordable retailers out there—so they’re a great choice for anyone on a budget, and they don’t have to be drab.
In fact, blackout shades are one of Abbe Fenimore’s, favorite ways to cool down a space during the toasty summer months. “If you’re on a budget and not wanting to splurge on custom panels, Wayfair has great basics that you can customize with pretty trim tape or fringe detail from your local fabric or craft store,” says Fenimore, founder of and interior designer at Studio Ten 25.
Close Window Coverings
Once you have those curtains, remember to keep them shut when possible. According to Fenimore, it’s a must to close window coverings when at work or out and about if you’re in a warmer climate: “Turn your ceiling fans on a low setting while you are gone, too, as this uses less electricity than your AC unit and will help retain any cool air that is in the house”.
Turn to Energy-Saving Light Bulbs
By implementing energy-saving light bulbs, not only will your home stay way cooler, but you can expect to see a lower bill too. Ivy Black, owner and designer of b.b. Dames Interiors in Raleigh, North Carolina, raves about them and notes that they “give off less heat than your old-school incandescent bulbs and last much longer”. Try these bulbs in soft white.
Al Fresco Dining for the Summer Win
Cooking inside without AC will leave you in torrential sweat downpour. It’s simply a no-no. “Turn the oven off, pop some rosé, and dine al fresco,” Black suggests. Most importantly, do it in style. A woven bistro bar cart, refreshing libations, and the perfect summer recipe is key to holding on to as much of the season as possible. Per Black, grilling is also such a fun way to entertain a big group of friends. “This grilled corn and tomato salad from Rest & Relish was a hit at our last outdoor soiree,” she adds.
Take it to the Floor
“Heat rises, so go low,” says Adams. “Pull out your floor pillows.” Create a chill, comfy seating arrangement on the floor and binge watch the latest season of Ozarks on Netflix. Add these stonewashed linen and leather floor pillows from Twenty Two Home for a chic finishing touch to your living room.
See more tips for your smartest home yet:
The Scary Truth About Your Laundry Room
10 Paint Mistakes That Make You Look Like a Rookie
How to Turn Antique Tables Into Chic Decor