Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Monday, June 24, 2013

5 Ways To Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

We're looking at a heat wave in my area of the world this week. I am aware that it might not be as hot as some other places are during summer but we aren't used to this sort of heat combined with humidity. It'll be in the upper 80s and low 90s all week and sticky with humidity.  Yuck!

When the weather gets especially hot, we turn on or turn up our air conditioning to compensate.  The question is, what do you do if you don't have air conditioning?

Here are 5 tips that will help you if you are in that situation.

1.  Keep your windows closed.  This sounds counterintuitive but it actually can help!  Close your windows and your blinds during the day to keep the hot air out. When it gets cool at night, open them up to cool down the house.  Then, close them again in the morning before the sun rises!

2. Eat cool meals. Eating a hot meal will only heat you up so try a cool meal on a hot day. Perhaps a salad or sandwich - or try something new like a cold soup!  If you do cook, try to use the grill or the stovetop so you don't heat up the house.

3. Take a cool shower or go swimming.  This seems obvious but it is an excellent way to cool down fast if you are overheated. I would advise against a hot shower, of course, as this will only heat you up.

4. Use fans the right way.  Ceiling fans are terrific at creating a cool breeze that makes you feel cooler so use them if you have them - but turn them off if you leave the room. At night, try putting a fan in a window at one side of the house blowing in to draw in cool air and one at the other side of your house to blow out the warm air. This does wonders!  (but remember to close those windows and blinds in the morning)

5. Turn off the lights. Incandescent bulbs create heat so turn them off if you don't need them! When you buy new ones, try the energy star bulbs that create less heat.  As a bonus, they will save you money, as well!

Image found here


  1. Using compact fluorescent bulbs, or better still LED lights, helps immensely.

    If you don't have a direct flow of air through your house, it helps to set up a couple of extra fans strategically placed to keep the air moving in the direction you want it to go. It also helps rooms that aren't along your airflow path to have one of those window units with two fans set in the screen so you can set one to exhaust and the other to draw in fresh air.

    "Keep your windows closed."

    This really does work; we've been doing it for the last three years since our central A/C unit died.

    Close and draw the curtains[1] on any windows while they receive direct sunlight (east in the morning, west in the afternoon, and south most of the day), but for the rest, monitor the interior and exterior temperatures.

    If you don't leave for work sooner, you can wait until the outside temperature rises to meet the inside temperature before closing shady and north- or west-facing windows in the morning; this frequently isn't until between 7:00 and 8:00 am for us. In the evening, the outside temperature sometimes drops below the inside temperature before sundown, so you can open the shady and north- or east-facing windows as soon as it does.

    Sometimes the outside temperature won't drop below the inside temperature before you want to go to bed, so at this point you need to evaluate the forecast. Maybe the temperature isn't supposed to drop that low, in which case you should just leave the windows shut. Maybe it will get there in only another hour, in which case you should go ahead and open them. Maybe the temperature won't change much, but it's more humid inside than outside; in this case it's usually worth it to open the windows just to let the humidity drop. gives a link for a Tabular Forecast that I find very helpful in deciding whether to leave the windows closed all night, and whether to open them early if I'm going to be out in the evening.

    [1] Thick, heavy, opaque curtains that are dark on the inside and light on the outside surfaces work best, because they insulate a bit as well as blocking and reflecting the sunlight. Opaque blinds are ok too, but thin plastic blinds that allow light through aren't the best for keeping your house cool. If you have any curtainless windows that are not completely in shade all day, get curtains or at least blinds for them!