5 Ways to Cool Down When You Don’t Have Air-Conditioning
This old-school trick actually works.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:29 AM
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For all the wonderful things that summer brings—alfresco dining, abundant farmers’ markets, memorable trips to the beach—it’s also a time when staying comfortable can be a challenge, in spite of all that relaxing. Hot weather can be a real burden, and when you don’t have air-conditioning in your home, it can cause serious discomfort.
But there are plenty of ways to keep the temperature in your space as low as possible and help it feel cooler than it actually is. These five methods might not make your AC-free home frosty, but they will provide you with plenty of relief from the heat—no sweat.
Embrace Low Light
More daylight hours is one of the best parts of summer—but that extra light can make your house even hotter. Natasha Bhuyan, M.D., recommends keeping your shades down to block out excess sun and keeping lightbulbs relatively dim to reduce the heat they give off. Avoiding incandescent bulbs can help prevent hot temperatures, too.
Change Your Sheets
A stuffy room can make it hard to fall asleep, even if you’ve never struggled with insomnia. If you’re a naturally hot sleeper or dealing with extra-warm temperatures, cotton percale sheets are more breathable than cotton sateen sheets and ones made with synthetic materials like polyester. Linen is also a great option for regulating your body temperature. Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza, brand editor at House Method, recommends skipping the top sheet and using a lightweight cotton quilt instead of a duvet if you’re not quite comfortable sleeping fully on top of the covers.
Lightweight, loose-fitting cotton or linen pajamas is the other part of the equation when it comes to sleeping in a warm space. Or if you’re comfortable snoozing in the buff, there’s no cooler option than that.
Circulate the Air
Fans don’t actually reduce the temperature of the air, Bhuyan explains, but they do circulate it—making it feel colder. She recommends the old-school trick of positioning a fan in front of a bowl of ice for extra heat relief. Place it directly in front of you to cool off, or create a cross-breeze by positioning the fan directly across from a window. “This will help improve circulation in the room and push warmer air out,” she says. Ceiling fans are also helpful—make sure they spin counterclockwise and turn them on the highest setting for the most cooling effect.
Keeping windows open at night allows colder air to enter your home, but if temperatures are extremely hot during the day (essentially, if the air outside is hotter than the air in your space), close them and draw the blinds to keep it as cool as possible.
Lighten Up Your Skin Care
Cold water might feel shocking at first, but Bhuyan notes that a moderately cold shower can be especially helpful in fighting overheating—and you’ll get used to the water temperature after those first few seconds pass.
Since summer heat increases the skin’s oil production, celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau recommends swapping oil-based products for lighter-weight water-based ones that still do a good job of keeping your skin hydrated. Keeping some products (like alcohol-free toner or a water-based gel mask) in the fridge means they can provide extra relief on hot days. “And, of course, drinking plenty of water is essential,” she says.
Use Appliances Strategically
You’re likely not turning on your oven every day when temperatures are soaring, but any large appliance in your home—your washer and dryer, for instance—can make your space feel warmer. This is why Bhuyan recommends using them at night, when the air is slightly cooler.
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