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No AC? Here’s How to Stay Cool and Comfortable All Summer

On the left, heat blocking window film on living room windows, in the center, a white Vornado fan in a living room, and on the right, a hand dropping a Nuun electrolyte tablet into a glass of water.

Whether you’re waiting on your new air conditioning system to be installed, or you’re just trying to save some cash, you don’t have to suffer in the sweltering heat this summer. There are actually lots of innovative ways you can stay cool, even if you don’t have AC!

Air conditioning is a marvelous invention, but not all homes have it. It’s also expensive to have installed and run all summer. That’s why it’s handy to know a few tricks for staying cool and comfortable without running up those utility bills.

Try these products and techniques to beat the heat all summer.

Control the Heat Coming in

Hot air and bright sun entering your home makes a big difference in the indoor temperature. Your first step to cooling your home is to block heat from getting in. Even if you do nothing else, you’ll be amazed at how well these changes work!

Window Film

On the left, a view outside seen through window film, and on the right, window film offering privacy from the outside looking in.

Heat control window film gives a slight tint to your windows, so you can still see out. However, it blocks most UV rays, keeping your home’s interior nice and cool. The durable adhesive material is easy to install yourself.

As an added bonus, the mirrored exterior offers privacy during daytime, and the UV blocking effect will keep your furniture from fading in the sun.

Solar Shades

On the left, a solar shade blocking light in a living room, and on the right, a closeup of the shade's texture.

If you don’t want to commit to window film, you can install solar shades that give you the option of blocking the sun only when you want to. The sheer material keeps the heat out, but doesn’t completely hide your view or your natural light.

These shades block UV rays just like window film does, and they come in a wide range of neutral colors to match your decor.


On the left, a closeup of beige blackout curtains, and on the right, the curtains hanging over a living room window.
Amazon Basics

If you prefer the classic look of curtains, blackout curtains give you the option of totally shutting out the sun during the hottest part of the day. Close the curtains and any room becomes a cool, shady retreat!

Of course, blackout curtains also offer complete privacy and help tune out noise—perfect for those midday summertime naps. If you don’t want your space to feel too dark, opt for curtains in a lighter color, like beige or white.

Circulate the Air

Stagnant air is guaranteed to make any space feel hotter. Getting air moving is easy with a fan, but you’ll want to make sure you have the right kind of fan for the job.

While fans do require electricity, running them is still less expensive than switching on the AC. (And if you do turn on the AC, running a fan lets you set it at a higher temperature and feel just as cool!)

A High-Octane Fan

A black Vornado fan circulating air in a luxe living room.

The Vornado fan uses a “vortex” air circulation method to move air throughout a whole room, rather than just blowing in one direction. You can still direct the air where you need it most, but the extra airflow will keep your space even cooler.

With just one fan, you can cool off a whole room—and it comes in three sizes depending on how big your space is.

Ceiling Fans

On the left, a ceiling fan with barnwood blades hanging in a home, and on the right, the same fan in a different color.
Prominence Home

Ceiling fans are another efficient way to cool a whole room, and they look beautiful and provide an extra light source, too.

This one has a simple, classic design with reversible blades that have a different finish on each side, so you can get the right look for your home. The three-speed action is quiet, and the motor is reversible for use in winter as well as summer.

Direct Hot Air Away

A window fan keeping a home cool on a sunny day.

A window fan can get the air inside moving, and can also blow hot air out from your home. This water-resistant fan can even be used on those hot and rainy days, and it comes with extenders to fit large windows.

Keep Your Body Cool

In addition to making changes to your home, it’s always important to keep yourself cool by dressing right and using cooling and hydrating techniques. Not only will this keep you more comfortable, but it will help keep you healthy.

Plus, if you have to step out and run errands in the heat, you’ll be able to stay comfortable on the go with these items.

Wear Light, Loose Clothing

On the left, a front view of a woman wearing a white t-shirt, and on the right, a back view of the same shirt.

Long before air conditioning was invented, people in hot climates stayed cool by wearing the right clothing. What’s the right clothing for hot weather? Think light and loose when it comes to colors, fabrics, and fit.

Light colors absorb less heat, light fabrics let your skin breathe, and loose fits allow air to flow. Simple linen or cotton pieces, like this flowy T-shirt, will do the trick.

Cooling Towels

On the left, a folded cooling towel, and on the right, a folded towel in front of two packaged towels.
Arctic Cool

A cold towel always feels great on a hot day, and these cooling towels are designed to keep you extra-cool using evaporation.

As soon as you get an Arctic Cool towel wet, it gets cold, even if the water isn’t. Wrap it around your neck or head to cool off instantly, and use it again and again.

Personal Fans

On the left, three people enjoying their portable neck fans, and on the right, the fan against a white background.

If you want the comfort of a fan with the freedom to move around, this portable fan has you covered. Just place it around your neck, adjust the fan direction, and go about your day.

It uses a rechargeable battery so it’s great for travel, too. As long as you have a USB port, you can charge it anywhere.

Stay Hydrated

On the left, a Nuun Sport container against a blue background, and on the right, a person dropping a Nuun electrolyte tablet into their water bottle.

When thinking about how to cool down, it’s easy to forget that hydration is key. Something as simple as drinking more water will make you more comfortable, while also keeping you healthy and safe in the heat.

You can make regular water work harder by adding electrolyte tablets for efficient hydration. Even if you’re not working out, electrolytes are important for staying properly hydrated when temperatures soar.

Sleep More Comfortably

When even the nights are hot, it can be hard to stay cool at bedtime. Generally, the best temperature for sleep is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, which might sound like a fantasy on hot summer nights.

However, these sleep-friendly products will help you rest better no matter the weather.

Breathable Cotton Sheets

Two white pillows stacked on a bed with new white cotton sheets.
California Design Den

If you tend to sweat when you sleep, try a different bedding fabric—it can make a surprisingly huge difference. Just like clothing, breathable fabrics make better summertime sheets.

Cotton is a great choice and classic white will hold less heat than darker colors. These cotton sheets have a smooth sateen finish that feels extra-cool.

Gel Pillows

On the left, a closeup of a gel pillow's texture, and on the right, the gel pillow in a case on a bed.
Classic Brands

No one likes the feeling of a hot pillow, which is why we all flip them to the cool side. The best pillows for summer are made of materials that allow air to flow and disperse heat while you sleep.

This double-sided pillow has a soft memory foam side for comfort and a cooling gel side for those extra-hot nights.

Cool Down Your Mattress

On the left, a man putting a Chili Pad on his bed, and on the right, a hand feeling the cooling effect of the mattress pad.
Chili Technology

Really hot sleepers might need to take more drastic measures. This mattress pad is a premium solution that lets you totally control the temperature of your bed, cooling it in summer and heating it in winter.

It also lets you set different temperatures on each side of the bed so both you and your partner can get a good night’s sleep. If you’ve tried other tactics and are still too hot at night, this sleep system is your answer.

With these items and tips, your home will be a comfortable respite even on those blistering-hot days and nights. Even better, you can save some cash by not using the AC. For yet another way to chill out, try drinking this before bed on those hot nights.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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