Cool Your Home Without Air Conditioning

With energy costs soaring out of control, we all need to find ways to keep the house cool this summer without spending so much that summer vacation goes out the window!

The first thing to always remember is that just turning up the thermostat or even all the way off is the number one way to save money on home cooling costs! You can adapt; people survived for thousands of years at least before central A/C. Make it a game to see just how much you can go without air conditioning this summer and you may just be amazed how well you can do.

The whole concept in keeping a home naturally cool is basically a threefold challenge:

  1. Keep heat from building up inside the home.
  2. Let warm air out of the house during cooler evening hours and bring cool air in.
  3. Find ways to reduce the generation of internal heat.

Whether your home has central air conditioning or not, you can keep your home cool without it; read on to learn the best ways to stay cool during the hot summer months.

Air Flow Keeps Inside Temperatures Lower

Air circulation is a critical element in keeping your home cool during hot weather. Use ceiling fans or portable room fans to keep the air flowing. In the evening when outside temperatures go down, open windows and try to get a good cross breeze flowing through the house all night. Close the house up in the morning once temperatures start to climb, but continue to use fans to keep air circulating through the living space.

Run the A/C system in the fan only mode to improve air circulation; be sure to read your manufacturer’s instructions first as this may or may not be recommended with some systems. If you have a basement, you could have an HVAC contractor install a cold air return which intakes cooler air from the basement and circulates it through the ductwork to better cool the entire house without running the air conditioner.

Fans and Ceiling Fans

You really can’t beat a fan for cooling efficiency; a $100 ceiling fan costs less than $10 a month to operate 12 hours a day and can cool a room by 5 to 7 degrees! If you are building a new home, seriously consider having ceiling fans installed in your favorite rooms; kitchens, living and family rooms and bedrooms are great places to put up ceiling fans.

Always turn ceiling fan blades so they direct air downward for summer. Combine permanent ceiling fans with a few portable or box fans; on the really hot days you can use the combination flexibly to create good cross-ventilation in your home.

Humidity makes any environment seem even hotter, so try to reduce humidity inside the house by minimizing use of showering or bathing, washing clothes, cooking, etc. Run ventilation fans in bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, etc. to help reduce moisture in the living space; turn them off when done cooking, cleaning, etc. to avoid extra power use.

Consider installing a whole house fan to ventilate the entire living space and attic space without having to use the central air conditioning! If you suffer from asthma or allergies, a humidifier or central humidity control system make be worth investigating.

Shade Your Home

Fortunately, you have many options when it comes to ways to better shade your home from the intense heat of the sun. Best options to shade a home include:

Trees and Plants

Planting deciduous shade trees strategically on the south and west sides of you home can save as much as $300 to cool your home this year, reducing the temperature inside your home by 3 to 5 degrees F. Plant trees or plants near your outside air conditioning unit (compressor and condenser) to keep it shaded, but not so close that leaves and other debris fall on the unit.

Try not to landscape the west or south side of a home using lots of hard, reflective materials such as rock, concrete or asphalt; these will only radiate heat onto the house long after the sun goes down!

Reflective Window Film

Windows with a westerly or southerly exposure can benefit greatly by the addition of an inexpensive heat-reflecting film or tinting. If you live in a colder climate, permanent window films can reduce heating efficiency, so consider the type that roll up and down or can otherwise be removed during the winter months.

Window Awnings

While not as popular as they once were for home use, metal or fabric window awnings can also help significantly cool south and west facing windows and can easily be removed once the hot weather is over. Retractable patio awnings are also a great way to keep outdoor living areas cooler!

Patio Covers

Many patios will have either French doors or a sliding glass door, either of which can be a challenge to keeping your home cool indoors, not too mention if you want to be outside during warmer weather. Build a wood patio cover or purchase a prefabricated fabric, vinyl or metal patio cover that is easy to install; some models are removable and can be stored away during the winter.

Window Blinds and Shades

Once the sun begins to beat down on windows, its time to close windows and blinds or shades to help keep indoor temperatures cooler; a good cellular shade offers substantial insulation. Light colors reflect better than dark wood or darker painted finishes on blinds and shades.

Choose wide slats when buying blinds or consider blackout material for window shades on windows that get the most exposure to the sun; larger windows facing south are good candidates for blackout blinds or shades.

Take a dip in a pool or a cool bath to keep your body temperature cool on those hot summer days.

Insulate and Seal Your Home

Much has improved in the last several decades when it comes to new home insulation. Many homes these days are sealed up tight, making them far more efficient to both cool and heat than older homes. A few things to consider when it comes to home insulation include:

Wall and Ceiling Insulation

One of the most important things to keeping a home cool (or warm) is installing adequate insulation; too little, too much or the wrong type in the wrong places and you will be air conditioning the outdoors! Check attic insulation and wall insulation to be sure things are in order.

Door and Window Seals

Just like insulation, weatherizing your home greatly reduces the amount of cool air that escapes. You want your home to be like a giant food cooler; cool it down at night and keep it cool inside during the day so you don’t become like spoiled food at the end of a weekend-long camping trip … or in this case a week-long heat wave!

Use caulk and weatherstripping products to seal the doors and windows tight. Be sure all windows operate and check the screens so you can open windows without fear of the insects!

Flooring Materials

You might not think of flooring material enough when it comes to home cooling, but smooth, dense flooring such as stone or ceramic tile are reflective and retain either the cold or the heat. Definitely if you have tile floors, your home will feel cooler on hot days.

A house with lots of wall to wall carpeting may feel warmer on a hot day; consider a wood laminate or vinyl flooring and use area rugs to soften things. That way you could even remove the rugs when it’s really hot outdoors to help keep things feel even just a little cooler.

Attic Ventilation

If your home has only a couple of gable vents, add an attic fan. If possible, use continuous soffit vents and/or roof vents to improve circulation in the attic space.

Another way to help cool the attic space is to install a foil radiant barrier to the underside of the roof rafters. This creates an air space between the foil and the sheathing, with the foil helping reflect heat away from the attic space. You can place the foil sheets so that seams are along the center of rafters or trusses and then seal them with caulk.

Keep at Least One Living Area Cool

If you have a two-story home, stay downstairs where the temperature may be as much as 10 to 20 degrees cooler than upstairs; since dense air stays lower while warm air is less dense and rises, the lower rooms in your house stay cooler.

If you live in a one-story home, try to stay in a room that is on the north-facing side of the house; a south-facing room will tend to get hotter since it is exposed to direct sunlight for more hours of the day.

Avoid using Electric Appliances on Hot Days

Heat generated internally, such as lamps, televisions and computers, stoves, laundry machines, etc. all generate heat, so using all of them less on hot days can really help keep inside living spaces cooler:

  • Use the microwave to heat food, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables; anything to avoid using the oven and stove.
  • Wait until after dark to eat or cook outdoors when the sun is low in the evening.
  • Do your dish and clothes washing at night or early in the morning.
  • Leave the house for a few hours at midday and go to a public building that is air conditioned … or to a pool, lake or beach for a swim.
  • If the garage is below a living space, leave your car outside to cool down before you park it in the garage.

Poor Man’s Air Conditioning System

If you don’t have home A/C, try this low tech cooling trick:

  1. Install a medium size box fan in a small window with the fan directing air OUT the window
  2. Seal the area around the fan with cardboard.
  3. Close all the windows in the house except one beside the one with the fan; leave that one other window open just a crack to act as an intake vent.
  4. Believe it or not, this method actually works, similar to the concept of a whole house fan; hot, stagnate air is blown out of the home and indoor temperatures will be far lower.

Stay indoors and reduce daytime activities during the middle of the day when it gets hot outside.

Tips to Keep Your Body Cool

Heat stroke or exhaustion is a serious problem; every year thousands of people are admitted to hospital emergency rooms due to this malady during major heat waves.

If you live in a home without air conditioning, keeping your body cool is not just a matter of comfort; it can be the difference between staying healthy or suffering heat stroke when outside temperatures are sweltering!

If you have tried everything else and the house is still hot during the heat of the day, try some of these tips to keep cool.

Hydration – keeping your body well hydrated is about the best way to stay cool indoors or out on a hot day; even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink water and other fluids to keep your body well hydrated to replace fluids as your body perspires. Try drinking beverages with electrolytes and avoid those with tons of sugar. Also, drinking ice cold water or other beverages can actually make your body expend energy so drink it cool but not necessarily ice cold.

Body Perspiration – your body naturally perspires in order to help regulate body temperature as the moisture on your skin evaporates. Keeping skin exposed to a steady air flow helps your sweat evaporate more quickly. So, try wetting your wrists, forehead and other “pulse points” to increase evaporation, try to sit or relax in front of a fan or other source of good air flow and wear short sleeves indoors to leave your arms and legs bare.

Stay Out of Direct Sunlight – it probably goes without saying, but stay indoors or outside in a nice, shaded area when the sun is beating down during the hottest part of the day. When outdoors, wear a hat with a wide brim and cover up as much of your skin as possible; believe it or not dessert tribes like the Bedouins often wear 2 layers of clothing on the hottest days to keep cool in an extremely hot, arid climate!

Limit Daytime Activity – its little secret that watching the weather report and planning your daytime activities will help keep your body cooler when it heats up outside. Exercise early in the morning and take a cool swim or bath while things are still cool. Follow the wisdom of Spaniards and sleep in a cool room during the middle of the day and stay up longer in the evening to take advantage of those cooler evening hours!

Tips for Staying Cool around the House

  • Go barefoot and take off your hat when you are indoors; the head, palms and soles of your feet are critical release points for body heat!
  • Eat less and eat spicier foods to encourage perspiration and a little rush of endorphins.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption; it’s a powerful diuretic that quickly dehydrates your body.
  • Take a long, cool bath, use cool washcloths and put on skin moisturizers to keep your body feeling rejuvenated.
  • Take a siesta and rest in the heat of the afternoon; it’s a good excuse to take a nap instead of tackling that one last home improvement project of the weekend!

Buy Now and Save:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *