When the heat is on outside, indoor air conditioning feels like one of the greatest inventions of the century. The steady blast of icy air makes even the most sweltering summer weather somewhat bearable.

But what if you find yourself without A/C, right when you need it the most? Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep cool that don’t involve this appliance on which we’ve come to rely.

Drink Lots of Liquids

A/C or not, your number one priority in hot weather is simple—stay hydrated! Dehydration in high temperatures can put people at serious risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Drinking plenty of fluids on hot days replenishes the water you lose from sweating; water that your body needs to function. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which are dehydrating or have a diuretic effect that increases water loss.

woman drinking a glass of water in her home


Dress the Part

Your clothing plays a bigger role in keeping you cool than you may think. Lose your tight-fitting summer outfits in favor of looser, flowy fabrics in natural fibers that allow your skin to release heat.

Avoid acetate, polyester, and poly-cotton blends, no matter how lightweight they appear. These materials don’t breathe, trapping heat and sweat. Choose linen, cotton, or rayon instead, in light colors that reflect (instead of absorb) the sun’s heat.

woman in loose clothing making the bed


Rally Your Fans

Need to “clear the air” at the end of a hot day? Once the temperatures drop in the evening, set two box fans in windows on opposite ends of your space. One fan should face inward to draw the air in, while the other one faces outward to push the air out. This “cross-ventilation” creates a steady stream of fresh, cooled air that flushes out any stagnant humidity that might have accumulated during the day.

If you have a ceiling fan, make sure the blades rotate counterclockwise to send cool air downward and create a “wind chill” effect.

father and son in front of fan on hot day


Don’t Let the Sunshine In

Covering up windows that let in direct sunlight can make a huge difference in keeping you cooler. Make sure blinds and curtains are closed by lunchtime, when the sun is at its strongest, to prevent your home from heating up. (Propping a windshield shade against your windows with the shiny side out works just as well in a pinch.)

People who live in tropical areas take it a step further with exterior window shades and awnings that deflect the sun’s rays before they even reach the window.

closing the blinds on a sunny day


Get Wet

Cool water works wonders when it comes to lowering your core body temperature. After you step out of a lukewarm shower or bath, set yourself up in front of a fan and enjoy the cool “breeze” as the water droplets evaporate off your skin.

As a shortcut, you can mist yourself with a cheap spray bottle. Damp wash rags around your neck also do the trick.

woman holding a damp cloth to her neck


Chill Your Sheets

High temperatures are associated with poorer quality sleep, so it’s no surprise that trying to fall asleep in hot weather can be a struggle — especially if you don’t have A/C.

Rest assured, however, that the solution to sleepless summer nights is simpler than you think. Just bundle your bedsheets into an airtight bag and place it in the freezer for at least half an hour. You’ll soon have crisp, cool covers to crawl under. For best results, bring a few frozen water bottles into bed with you too. A box fan in your bedroom will keep the cooler night air circulating until morning.

woman putting fresh sheets on the bed


Give Appliances the Afternoon Off

You’d be amazed at how much heat everyday household items generate, and more heat is the last thing you need on hot days!

Run dishwashers, laundry machines, and other appliances as little as possible between 10 am and late afternoon when temperatures are at their peak. The same goes for electronics like TVs, computers, and video game consoles. Even replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs can make a difference.

an empty dishwasher


Step Away from the Stove

Stick to cold breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that don’t heat up your kitchen — think sandwiches, sushi, smoothies, and fruit salads. Just as hearty soups and stews warm us up in cold weather, eating chilled food cools us down in hot weather.

If you must cook, use the microwave, or better yet, fire up the grill outdoors and leave the indoors out of it!

woman taking food out of the microwave


Trap Cool Air

Resist the urge to open your windows during heat waves. Believe it or not, it will only make your home feel hotter. Instead, wait until the sun sets in the evening to let the cooler air circulate all night.

Then, in the morning, close your windows again — along with your shades and blinds — to trap the cooler air inside.

woman closing her window on a sunny day


Make an "Escape"

Extreme heat is no joke and can be dangerous to your health. When you can’t beat the heat at home, do what people in hot climates do and seek a cooler location.

Hit the beach or a lake, where the breeze is cooled by the water, or head to a public indoor place like the library, mall, or movie theater, where A/C is pretty much guaranteed.

woman shopping in the freezer aisle of the grocery store


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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.