Keep Your Apt. Cool w/o AC

How to Keep an Apartment Cool Without Air Conditioning

Published on August 2nd, 2018
By Jennifer Oppriecht

Summer in Madison is a blast.  Sometimes, however, it’s a blast of hot, humid air. To beat the summer heat, check out these 13 tips for how to cool down a room without AC.  We also share some ideas on how to keep the whole apartment cool, too!

1. Use fans correctly

Everybody has fans, but not everybody knows how to maximize their cooling efficiency. Simply turning on a fan and expecting it to create cold air in a hot apartment is kind of like trying to put out a fire by having a dragon blow on it.

Instead, create some airflow by setting up one fan in your bedroom window and another blowing out of a different window. The cooler nighttime air will flow in while the hot air flows out, creating an air exchange that will give you the refreshing effect you are looking for.

2. Close the shades during the day

Draw the blinds and prevent the sunrays from turning your apartment into a greenhouse (nice for tropical plants, not for people). The neighbors might find it suspicious, but hey, you’re staying cool.

Close shades during the day.

3. Create a homemade solar reflector

Cut out a piece of cardboard the size of your window. Then, layer one side of the cardboard in aluminum foil and place it on the inside of your window frame, foil side out. This will serve as a radiant barrier, effectively reflecting heat.

4. Cook outside

Why not use the grill to stay chill? Cooking is one of the of the primary generators of heat within your home. But it’s summer! Get outside and keep the heat where it belongs. As if you needed another excuse for a cookout…

How to Cool Down a Room FAST

Looking for a faster way to put the deep freeze on?  Here are some DIY contraptions that might speed the process.

5. The homemade air cooler

If you’re willing to sacrifice a cooler or ice bin, this is a pretty intuitive mechanism to make. You will need:

  • A large cooler or ice bin
  • A small fan
  • A drill
  • One small PVC pipe (formed in a 90 degree angle works best)
  • Duct tape
  • Bag of ice or cold pack

Using the drill, cut out two holes in the lid: one the size of a small fan head and the other the size of the PVC pipe. Secure each in their respective holes with duct tape. Then, fill the cooler with an ice bag or large cold pack and turn on the fan. Voila! You’ve got a homemade cooling fan!

6. The homemade evaporative cooler (swamp cooler)

Okay, this one’s slightly more complicated, but also very effective and perhaps longer lasting. It is probably easier to follow the instructions from the Youtube video than to read our written instructions.

You will need:

  • A large bin
  • A small fan
  • A drill
  • Duct tape
  • A small, thin PVC pipe
  • A water pump
  • A media pad (can be purchased at a hardware store)

Tape the base of the fan to the bin’s lid so that the fan’s head hangs upside down, facing one side of the bin. Drill a hole in the front of the bin, large enough for the fan head. Then, cut the media pad so it fits in the bin.

Cut a rectangular opening in the side of the bin opposite the fan, as large as the media pad. Drill small holes in the PVC pipe and secure it on top of the media pad.

Hook up the water pump so water flows from the base of the bin and up into the PVC pipe. The water will flow out of the holes you drilled, keeping the media pad saturated with cool water. Then, turn on the fan and enjoy.

WARNING: BE SURE THE FAN IS SECURE! Electronic item falling into water = bad.

Forget the DIY Approach: Fans That Cool Like Air Conditioners

If the homemade options aren’t for you, consider some other cooling fans, all quite a bit less than an air conditioning unit:

Kaz Honeywell HY-280 QuietSet Whole Room Tower Fan

Wooboo Mini Cooli 5th Generation

LOHOME Handy Cooler Small Fan

How to Stay Cool (Personally)

We’ve given you some room adjustments and additional tools to consider. Now let’s take a look at some interesting tricks for you to pull off – from frozen pillows to damp socks!

7. Put your pillow in the freezer

Your head and your feet are two of the primary extremities that regulate body heat. By sleeping on a cold pillow, you can turn your internal temperature down. Cooler heads prevail! You can also put bedding into freezer bags to get the same result!

Place your pillow in the freezer to cool off.

8. Drink lots of cold water

You need to stay hydrated in the hot weather anyway. Drinking cold water can also keep your body temperature nice and cool. Be sure not to overhydrate out of desperation, though! Drinking water can only do so much.

9. Take a cold bath or shower before bed

Same idea as freezing your pillow and drinking water. A cold bath or shower will lower your body temperature to help you keep cooler. Combine this tactic with the pillow in the freezer and drinking water, and you have a powerful trifecta to keep your body as cool as a cucumber.

10. Set your fan up in front of a pan of ice before bed  

For all you non-engineers out there, this is a variation on the swamp cooler we mentioned earlier.

Find yourself a pan that’s both big enough to hold a bag of ice, and also contain the water when it melts.  Set up a fan at the foot of your bed, and place a bag of ice in the pan in front of it. The noticeably cooler air being blown over the ice will keep you cool as you drift off.  

11. Wear damp socks or t-shirt to bed

During the winter, there’s nothing quite as nasty as when you get snow in your boots and your socks get wet.  During the summer, however, this can work to your advantage. Simply get a pair of socks, run them under cool water and wring them until they’re damp.  Then put them on at bedtime. They’ll cool your body.

You can also use a t-shirt.  Heck, any other articles of clothing would probably work – we’ll let you use your imagination as you peruse the underwear drawer.

Damp socks can cool off your body.

12. Use blue ice or green dish soap  

Are you familiar with the blue ice packs they sell at grocery stores?  They get cold but don’t get damp. You can put a few under a sheet, or lay them next to you in bed.

You can also use green dish soap for the same thing. Take some green dish soap, and put it in a freezer bag for several hours.  Leave ¾ of the bag empty. The soap won’t harden, which allows you to put in a pillowcase. It will also hold the cold longer than the blue ice packs.

13. Sleep on a bamboo mat   

Straw or bamboo mats won’t retain heat.  They’re budget-friendly, too.

No Air Conditioning? No Worries!

You now have 13 solutions to help keep yourself and your apartment cool.  Short of renting an apartment with an air conditioner, this should help you fend off the beastly Madison summer nights!

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