Updated: Jun 19
Written By Alexis Bennett for Today's Homeowner Why You Can Trust Us As summer rolls around, bringing with it the sweltering heat, many of us instinctively reach for the thermostat to crank up the air conditioning. But what happens when there’s no central air conditioning to turn on, or the window unit has given up the ghost? You’re certainly not the only one facing this situation. While central A/C units are prevalent in many parts of the United States, half the households in the Northeast primarily depend on individual A/C units, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
And even when we do have working HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, unexpected breakdowns are a common issue, leaving us sweating while waiting for an expensive repair or installation. Or maybe, in an effort to reduce those sky-high electricity bills, you opt to use your A/C minimally, and as a result, your home starts to feel like a steamy sauna. These scenarios highlight the necessity of exploring strategies for cooling a house without A/C. If you find yourself wondering why your A/C might not be cooling, that’s another story. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In this article, we’ll share some practical, easy-to-implement tips for creating a cool and comfortable home environment without A/C. So let’s dive in. Table of Contents
How Many Households Don’t Have Air Conditioning?
Ways to Keep Your Home Cool from the Inside
Ways to Keep Your Home Cool from the Outside
How Many Households Don’t Have Air Conditioning? You might be surprised to know there’s still a significant number of households in the United States that don’t have the luxury of modern A/C.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 124 million households in the country, and data from the EIA tells us that 90% of these households have some form of air conditioning. Simple math tells us that leaves around 12 million households without the comfort of A/C. That’s a lot of people potentially sweating it out during the summer. And speaking of summer, here’s another interesting piece of information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): on average, we experience around six heatwaves each year, each lasting about four days. That’s nearly a month of potentially sweltering heat. When you think about it, that’s a fair chunk of time, especially if you’re part of the 12 million households without air conditioning. For a significant portion of us, finding ways to cool our homes without A/C is not just a matter of comfort but also of necessity.
Ways to Keep Your Home Cool from the Inside Let’s explore a few strategies you can employ within your home to make it a more comfortable environment when the temperature starts to climb. Some might sound pretty simple, but the difference they make can be huge.
Proper Use of Ceiling Fans Let’s start with something basic yet effective — your ceiling fans. These are more than just decorative. When used correctly, they can significantly enhance air circulation in your home. Set them to run counterclockwise at a lower speed during the summer. This stirs up a room’s air, creating a pleasant, cooling breeze that can make the temperature feel lower than it actually is.
Cover the Windows Appropriately Windows can act like greenhouse glass, allowing sunlight in and trapping heat. It’s crucial, therefore, to cover them properly in the summer. Use shades, blinds, or curtains to block out the sun, especially during peak hours. For even more effectiveness, consider installing reflective or insulated window film.
Change Light Bulbs to No-Heat LEDs It’s surprising how much heat traditional incandescent light bulbs can generate. LEDs, on the other hand, emit very little heat and use less electricity. Making the switch can not only keep your home cooler but also reduce your energy bills.
Update Insulation Insulation isn’t just for keeping your house warm in the winter — it can also help keep it cool in the summer. A well-insulated home slows the transfer of heat, keeping your home cooler indoors when it’s hot outside.
Multiple Fans to Create Crosswind If you have several portable fans, set them up across from each other to create a crosswind. This can have a significant cooling effect. You can also place a bowl of ice in front of one of the fans — as the ice melts, the fan will blow cool, misty air around the room.
Close Doors of Unused Rooms Some rooms in houses aren’t used as frequently as others. To optimize your cooling efforts, try shutting the doors of less-used rooms. This way, you concentrate the cool air in areas where you spend most of your time, preventing it from being wasted in seldom-occupied spaces.
Do Chores at Night Many household chores, from running the dishwasher to doing the laundry, generate heat. By doing these tasks at night when the temperatures drop, you can prevent the excess heat from making your house uncomfortably warm. Avoiding the oven and stove during the day can also keep the kitchen cooler.
Screens on Windows Installing screens on your windows lets you keep them open at night, bringing in fresh, cool air while keeping out insects. And if you’re worried about security, there are sturdy security screens available that can keep you and your home safe.
Use a Dehumidifier Sometimes, it’s not the heat but the humidity that makes us uncomfortable. High humidity levels can make hot weather feel even hotter. Dehumidifiers work by extracting excess moisture from the air, helping to create a more comfortable environment in your home.
Harness the Power of Natural Airflow The wind can be your best ally when it comes to cooling your house without A/C. If your home is positioned to catch a cross-breeze, this natural airflow can help to refresh your indoor space. Simply open the windows on the side of your house that the wind is coming from, and slightly open the windows on the opposite side. This creates a cooling pressure current. If the wind isn’t cooperating or your home lacks windows on one side, a window fan can work wonders in replicating this natural airflow effect.
So, there you have it. Ten effective strategies to keep the inside of your home cool without the need for constant air conditioning. Every house is unique, so experiment with these strategies and see what works best for you. Photo by Wes Hicks on UnsplashWays to Keep Your Home Cool from the Outside While focusing on the interior of your home is crucial for staying cool, let’s not forget the exterior. Here are three practical ways to modify your home’s exterior that can effectively keep your place cool.
Landscaping to Create Shade on House Strategic landscaping can make a world of difference. Planting trees and tall shrubs near windows can cast shadows, reducing the amount of sunlight that directly hits the windows and the rest of your home. Plus, trees not only cool the air around them, but they also improve air quality and provide a lovely green space for your enjoyment.
Install an Outdoor Awning or Shade Sometimes, the classic methods work best. Awnings or sunshades over your windows and doors might feel a bit retro, but they are extremely efficient at keeping the summer sun’s heat at bay. By adding these simple installations to your home’s exterior, you can significantly reduce the amount of heat that enters your home, keeping the indoors cool and comfortable.
Opt for a Light-Colored or Metal Roof If you’re in the market for a new roof, consider going with a light-colored or metal one. Lighter shades reflect more sunlight than dark ones, keeping your home cooler. Metal roofs can also be a good choice because they reflect a lot of solar radiation, which helps keep the heat down in your house. By making these modifications outside, you can complement the efforts you’re making inside your home to create a cooler environment overall. These changes not only make your home more comfortable in summer but can also enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property.
Sweltering summer days don’t have to mean unbearable heat in your home. Even without air conditioning, there are numerous ways to keep your home cool, both inside and outside. From making smart changes like using energy-efficient LED bulbs and installing awnings to implementing DIY cooling methods like a bowl of ice in front of a fan, staying cool doesn’t always mean cranking up the A/C. Of course, we know that sometimes the heat can get a bit too much to handle. If that’s the case, and you decide that you might want to look into getting an HVAC unit for your home, check out our guide to the best HVAC companies. Stay cool!