How to Keep Your Apartment Cool in the Summer without AC

Summer is here, and that can mean seeking refuge from some of the season’s sweltering weather. If your apartment does not have an air conditioner – or if you’re trying to cut down on its use – there are still plenty of solutions you can try out to keep your rental unit cool. 

How to Keep Your Apartment Cool in the summer Without AC. If it’s hotter inside your apartment than it is outside, you can get rid of the indoor heat by opening the windows in the room. This is especially effective if you live in a place where the temperature drops at night. Another way you can keep your apartment cool during the summer is by keeping the doors to the rooms that you don’t use often shut. This way, you will keep the cooler air in a single area, which can help to cool down the room much faster. You’ll also want to limit the use of heat-generating appliances such as the stove. You can switch to outdoor grilling instead, or wait until the outdoor air cools down later at night. Another effective way to cool down your apartment is to make the switch from incandescent light bulbs, which emit a lot of heat, to LED or CFL bulbs, which emit little to no heat. 

Being cooped up in an apartment with no air conditioning when it’s sweltering hot can be uncomfortable. The following methods are some of the most reliable ways to cool your apartment without the help of air conditioning. 

1. Close off other rooms that you’re not using

If you spend most of your time in one or two rooms, consider closing the doors to the rooms that you don’t use as often – like bathrooms or bedrooms.. Closing off parts of the rental unit keeps the cooler air concentrated in a single area, and can help the room you’re in the most cool down faster and stay cool. 

If your doors have gaps at the bottom, invest in some insulation. Weather stripping is effective at keeping cool air from escaping through doors and windows. Weather stripping is quite affordable, plus it doesn’t take much time to install.

2. Keep your blinds/curtains and windows closed

While natural light is great in any space, too much of it can turn your apartment into a sweltering sauna during the summer. 

Highly reflective window blinds – whether horizontal or vertical slat-type – are effective at reducing heat, especially when completely closed and lowered on a sunny window. Horizontal slat-type blinds can also be adjusted to reflect and block direct sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling. 

Curtains and drapes also have the ability to reduce heat gain, though their effectiveness depends on factors such as fabric type (open or closed weave) and color. During summer days you should keep draperies on windows that receive direct sunlight closed – studies show that medium-colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gains by up to 33%. Some people even opt to invest in white-backed blackout shades that block the sunlight out completely.

Another simple thing you can do to keep your apartment cool without relying on AC is making sure you keep your windows shut. It may seem counterproductive – windows let in fresh air, right? – but it works, especially if the air outside is hotter than the air inside. Keeping your windows shut will help the inside of your rental unit stay a little cooler.

3. Turn off heat-generating appliances and devices

Any device or appliance that you have on contributes to the heat in your apartment. Make sure you turn off or unplug anything that is not in use. Televisions and computers, in particular, tend to generate a lot of heat, so only keep them on when necessary. 

Cooking will increase the temperature of your kitchen significantly. If you want to keep the kitchen or connecting room cool, minimize the heat coming off of your oven or stove by turning it off. Try to limit your cooking to later at night or early in the morning when the outdoor air is cooler. You can also try other cooking options such as outdoor grilling, or try out recipes that don’t require heating up.

4. Switch to no-heat bulbs

Stoves and TVs aren’t the only things that bring in a lot of heat in your living space. Light bulbs are another culprit, albeit an often-overlooked one. Incandescent light bulbs emit a lot of extra heat, wasting up to 90% of the energy they use. Opt to switch to CFL or LED bulbs to keep your apartment cool. A bonus that comes with using such bulbs is a lower electric bill.

If you can’t change all your light bulbs, consider keeping all your lights off and use natural lighting during the day.

5. Pick up the clutter

Piles of clothing and other kinds of clutter in your apartment absorb heat and trap it in the room. The less clutter you have in your apartment, the more space there will be for the heat to disperse and the faster temperatures will drop to more comfortable levels. Clutter can also restrict airflow, making your apartment feel stuffy and even hotter. Put piles of clothing away neatly in a closet and eliminate any clutter that you don’t need.

6. Let the night air in

If you live in a place where the temperature drops during the nighttime, you might want to open your windows before you go to bed. Working with the outdoor temperatures can not only help keep your apartment cool but can also help you save money. Try opening all the windows in your unit to cool it down during the night, allowing for a cross breeze, and remembering to close them back up the next morning to keep the cool air in before it gets too hot outside. 

7. Turn on your ceiling fan

One of the most effective ways to keep your apartment cool in the summer is to install ceiling fans. You want to have fans in rooms where you spend a lot of time, whether that’s the living room, bedroom, or kitchen.

New ceiling fans may be a bit expensive to buy upfront, but they are much more affordable than installing and using an air conditioning system in the long run. Some useful tips for buying new ceiling fans include:

  • DC-powered fans are more energy-efficient than AC-powered fans, and they’re also much quieter.
  • Fans that have fewer blades are more efficient at keeping spaces cool – choose a fan with three or four blades.
  • A fan that features a steep blade pitch (around 15 degrees) will move air more efficiently than a fan with flat blades.

If you don’t plan on buying new ceiling fans, you can take the following steps to improve the ones you have:

  • Run fans counter-clockwise – In the summer, make sure you run your ceiling fan counterclockwise on its highest setting to push the air straight down and create a wind-chill breeze effect that will make your apartment feel cooler.
  • Clean the fans regularly – Keep your ceiling fan dust-free to help it work better. Dirt on fans can heat up the motor, which can cause them to run slower.
  • Fix any wobbling – If your fan is wobbly, it won’t cool your room down as it should. Tighten or replace loose screws in your ceiling fan, including within the light fixture.
  • Polish the fan blades – It’s important to polish your fan’s blades to reduce drag, which will consequently improve its ability to move air.

8. Turn on any other fans you may have

Table fans, oscillating fans, box fans, and mounted fans are all effective at circulating air in an apartment and creating a wind-chill effect. If you don’t have a lot of space, consider going for a small table fan; if you need to cool a large space, an oscillating fan is your best option.

You can also try creating a cross-breeze with two fans. To do this, position a box fan in an open window facing the prevailing wind or away from it to create cross-ventilation. Box fans are effective at augmenting or creating a breeze when the air is still. If the wind direction tends to change frequently in your area, opt to use a reversible-type box fan so you can either pull air into your apartment or push it out, depending on which direction the wind blows. 

Experiment with positioning box fans in different windows to see which arrangement provides the best cooling effect. In a larger apartment, consider installing a box fan that blows air in through a lower-level window in a cool area and another box fan that blows air out through a higher-level window in a hotter area. 

9. Create a makeshift air conditioner using a tray of ice and a fan

You can try creating a makeshift air conditioner by placing a tray of ice in front of a fan. To do this, fill up a tray, mixing bowl, or shallow pan with ice and position it directly in front of the fan. This will get cold, slightly mist air circulating in the room. You can also try using ice packs, or if you run out of ice, you can effectively improvise with cold water or a bag of frozen vegetables. Place the tray at a single, tilted up, if the fan doesn’t seem to be blowing across the ice effectively.

10. Consider investing in a dehumidifier

Humidity can make the hot summer weather feel even more suffocating. If you live in a humid climate, you might want to consider getting a dehumidifier – although it won’t reduce the room temperature, it will help manage the sticky, thick air that makes hot days feel even more unbearable. This is a device that effectively pulls in the humid air in a space and circulates it around its coils before releasing it back into the room. Dehumidifiers are usually portable, so you can bring it with you from room to room to maximize its usage. To get the most out of it, place your dehumidifier in the center of the room you want to cool down.

11. Landscape with trees

If you want a more long-term solution, consider planting trees or planting in front of windows that face south or west. Leafy trees, vines, and reeds can block out the sun during hot weather. Spruce up your garden with trees or plants, strategically positioning them so that the leaves block out the sun. Planting vines like ivy that grow quickly will provide your unit with cooling shade. 

12. Insulate your attic and walls

Another way you can keep your apartment cool in the summer is to insulate your attic and walls. This will lower the amount of heat that enters your attic and exterior walls and prevent it from escaping into the rest of your home.

13. Turn on your exhaust fan

Turn on exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to get rid of heat and humidity when bathing/showering and cooking. Larger, securely installed exhaust fans can be used to improve air circulation in apartments where an AC system is not an option, but it’s important to be cautious with their use – if enough ventilation isn’t provided, these fans can pull combustion products such as carbon monoxide from water heaters or furnaces into your living space.

14. Vent your attic

The attic takes the brunt of the heat that comes with the summer. Your attic is usually 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the rest of your living space. If there isn’t enough venting, the attic will trap a lot of hot air which can cause the rest of your home to heat up.

Use an attic fan to improve air circulation. Attic fans are usually either gable or roof-mounted. Gable-mounted fans are installed onto your existing vents, while roof-mounted fans are installed on the exterior of your roof.

Final thoughts

Too much heat and humidity can make your living space feel stuffy and uncomfortable. If you have an air conditioning system, all you have to do is to crank it up; however, this is not an option for everyone. Fortunately, there are a couple of tricks you can use to cool down your apartment without an AC, from turning on any available fans to switching to no-heat bulbs.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

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