How to Cool Down a Room Without Using Air Conditioning—and More Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer

Learn how to cool down a room (fast!), dress comfortably for hot weather, stay hydrated, and more—no air conditioning required.

Woman drinking water and sitting in front of electric fan
Photo: Maryviolet / Getty Images

After a long winter, and oftentimes rainy spring, we all get excited about the warm and sunny days of this season. The months between June and September involve getting out your summer playlist, heading to barbecues and backyard parties, and relaxing at the beach. But summer also comes with all the dangers that heat and humidity can bring. Both can infiltrate your home, even if you're cranking the air conditioning all day (and night) long. Ultimately, running your AC on full blast for the duration of the summer will leave you with hefty electric bills—and many modern homes are not equipped with energy-saving central air.

Luckily, there are many ways you can adjust your home design and lifestyle to keep heat at bay.

How to Cool Down a Room Fast

Open Your Windows and Doors

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you want to know how to cool down fast, start here: Keep the doors and fans throughout your house wide open during the day to let air permeate the entire space. Closed doors just trap hot air and make the rooms of your home feel much hotter.

In addition to opening your windows, Dina Burstein, M.D., of the Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island and Hasbro Children's hospitals, says to use fans and stay well hydrated. If you live in a multi-level home, she also suggests staying downstairs on your home's first floor where it tends to be cooler.

Dispel the Hot Air

If keeping your whole home cold is too much of a feat, or it doesn't respond well to the aforementioned cross-ventilation techniques, take a room-by-room approach (focusing on the spaces you occupy most frequently). To learn how to cool down a room without air conditioning, use fans strategically. While you can, of course, resort to the old-school, tried-and-true method of pointing a fan directly at yourself (and letting the air do its thing), it's better to dispel the hot air—instead of just moving it around. To do so, place box fans in windows so they push hot air outside and adjust ceiling fans so the blades run counter-clockwise; this pulls hot air up and out, rather than pushing it around the room.

Invest in Window Treatments

Exterior shading, like awnings or sprawling trees, go a long way when it comes to temperature control. If you don't have these external blockers, though, use blinds, roller shades, or tightly-woven draperies to keep sun from heating up rooms and interior surfaces that can continue to radiate heat for hours. Consider multilayered window treatments, which insulate better than single-layered ones.

Go to a Public Place with Air Conditioning

If your home gets too hot even with your windows open and your fan running, head to a public place, like your local library or community center, that has indoor cooling. Dr. Burstein suggests doing this during the hottest times of the day. Not only will your family love the field trip, but you can also get in some exploratory learning and reading while you beat the heat.

Stay Hydrated

As always, drink water frequently. For days when you spend time outdoors for a lengthy amount of time, Dr. Burstein suggests bringing plenty of water (or taking advantage of any water fountains nearby). "You may want to take your activity down a notch if it's really hot," she says. "And make sure to take frequent breaks and rehydrate."

Opt for Cooling Fabrics and Bedding

There's a reason why cotton and linen clothing are so popular in the summertime; both fabrics breathe easily, and promote ventilation and airflow. Pack away your satins, flannels, and silks for the season and opt for a lightweight, light-colored, cotton-linen blend sheet. Take the same approach to seasonal bedding (swap heavier sheets for cooling, moisture-wicking ones)—and don't forget to trade in your down pillows for buckwheat-hull pillows. This multifunctional grain can help keep you cool on scorching-hot nights, since it doesn't absorb heat.

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