By Ali Mannan
Maybe you can’t afford to install a new air conditioning unit or you’re just trying to save some money on your electric bill. Perhaps you’d like to adopt cleaner, more sustainable alternatives.
Whatever the reason: don't sweat it. There are several ways to cool down your home on a hot summer day — without cranking up your AC.
Installing a ceiling fan is one of the most simple and cost-effective ways to cool a room. They work well in any living space, from your kitchen to your bedroom.
Even if you have an AC, consider installing a ceiling fan. You can raise your thermostat by 4 degrees and still remain comfortable, states the Department of Energy. Fans help reduce energy costs considerably by circulating the cool air from your AC unit. And, they're substantially less expensive to operate over time.
You can install a ceiling fan on your own, but we recommend you hire a professional instead.
Attic fans work by drawing hot air out of an attic through vents, keeping the space cooler. Fans are especially useful during the summer months when your HVAC system may be working overtime. By removing excess heat from your attic, fans not only keep other areas cool — they help prevent summer weather damage, such as roof damage and mold.
Just make sure your soffit vents aren’t blocked by and don’t have broken seals. When the vents are damaged or blocked, the fan will draw your air conditioned air out of your house and into your attic. This could mean higher energy bills.
One way to keep your rooms cool is to apply a reflective, heat-reducing window film to help regulate the temperature. Window films can block UV rays (up to 95%-99%) and reduce solar heat gain. Window films are especially effective when placed on any east- and west-facing sides of your home.
Window films can also give you a bit of privacy without blocking the beautiful views of your front or backyard. Look for decorative variations, such as frosted stained glass films.
An added bonus: some films can also help keep warm air inside during the colder months. Who doesn’t love a great investment all year round?
It’s not impossible to apply window films yourself. Just remember, a manufacturer or a professional near you can install the film correctly — saving you time and the cost to fix any mistakes.
One of the simplest ways to cool a room: let in the night air. Open your windows once the sun sets and the air gets crisp and breezy. This can help regulate the temperature and will also keep your furniture and hardwood cool.
You can choose to automate with controls, actuators and sensors. Plenty of companies in this space have control systems for different types of windows, including skylights, outward opening and sliding windows. You can choose to have the windows open at a certain time, or set them to open once the weather dips to a particular temperature.
One interesting hack? Place a bowl of ice or some cold water in front of a fan. As the air is pushed out, it’ll pick up the coolness and spread it around your room. This process works best if you have an oscillating fan that will circulate the cold breeze evenly.
Vines may be an effective way to help keep your home cool, provide shade and reduce humidity. In fact, one study found that ivy is the most effective plant for cooling a home.
A landscaper or gardener can help you choose a vine and find the best way to landscape your exterior walls or trellises for optimal curb appeal. Just make sure you follow the pro’s maintenance instructions to ensure your vines last and cause minimal-to-no damage to your siding.
One of the best (and easiest) ways to keep cool and comfortable is to close doors and seal gaps. Whether you're at home or at work, closing the doors to rooms you aren't using can help keep the air cool in the spaces you use most. Sealing gaps around doors and windows will also keep cool air from escaping.
If you're looking for an inexpensive, easy way to lower the temperature in your room, consider swapping out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs. LED lighting is ideal for areas that need to be kept cool—like bedrooms, living rooms, and other indoor areas where excess heat is unfavorable.
If you’re looking to make sustainable swaps, this is a great starting place. LEDs “use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs,” according to the Department of Energy. They also last up to five times longer than compact fluorescent light bulbs. LEDs emit significantly less heat. And because they have a longer lifespan, you won’t have to buy new ones nearly as often.
If you find yourself cranking your AC more often than usual this summer, you may want to consider insulating your home. Start with the attic, which tends to let in the most outside air. From there, consider insulating your walls. If there's any surface area of wall space that isn't insulated yet (or if it’s time to replace your current insulation), now may be a good time to add some extra layers of foam or fiberglass so heat stays out.
Consult a professional to find out where you should insulate and which type of insulation is best for your climate. It’s one of those long-term investments that’s worth the cost in energy savings.
Related: How much does insulation cost?
One of the best ways to cool your room is by reducing its humidity. If you're in a humid climate, consider buying a dehumidifier. Air conditioners only cool things down while dehumidifiers reduce moisture levels and alleviate that “sticky” feeling. The end result: your room can feel much more comfortable, even if it’s the same temperature.
A cooling mattress topper can help you beat the heat, especially if you sleep in an extra-warm room or share a bed with a partner. These toppers have breathing materials (like latex) that are designed to help keep you cool at night without needing to blast the air conditioning for hours on end. They're usually made with gel infusions and ventilated foam to help keep things breezy while you snooze.
Cooling materials not cutting it? Some mattress toppers also come with built-in fans and operate quietly so they won't disturb you while you sleep.
Heat that builds up in one room can make other areas in your home warmer. For example, when you're cooking indoors, be sure to turn on the range hood’s fan. And when you shower or bathe, open the bathroom window and turn on the exhaust fan. Exhaust fans help ventilate and can remove excess heat and moisture.
Consider installing an awning or exterior shade over your window. Awnings come in all shapes and sizes to fit your style and budget. Shade provided by awnings can reduce heat gain by 65%-77%.
Summertime is meant for relaxation, but that’s harder to do when you’re burning up. If you don't have air conditioning in your home or want to find more sustainable alternatives, there are many options. Use our basic tricks to cool a room without AC and keep energy bills in check. Ready for more? Discover new energy conservation ideas at Thumbtack.
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