Tips & Guides / Apartment Life

12 Ways Cool a Room Without AC in Your Apartment

By Camryn Rabideau | Jul 26, 2022
Woman sitting in her apartment on a hot day, cooling down with a fan.

Air conditioning is a welcome luxury on the hottest days of summer, but unfortunately, not all apartments have AC. If a window unit isn’t an option in your living space, you may have to get creative to keep your home cool and comfortable as the temperature outside soars.

The good news is that there are a variety of ways to cool a room without AC. Many of these strategies are low-cost or even free, and they’ll all help you make it through heat waves during the summer. Here are our top tips for cooling a room without AC, including:

  1. Close the curtains
  2. Reverse your ceiling fan
  3. Hang up insulating window film
  4. Embrace the breeze
  5. Switch to LED bulbs
  6. Invest in a powerful fan
  7. Sleep with cooling bedding
  8. Don’t use large appliances
  9. Manage the humidity level
  10. Take advantage of exhaust fans
  11. Get a personal AC
  12. Cool yourself down

Let’s get started!

1. Close the curtains

 young woman opening curtains in a bedroom

The easiest way to keep your apartment from getting too hot is to close the curtains early in the morning. Not only do they provide shade, but curtains also act as a layer of insulation, keeping the cooler air inside your home and hot air out.

Blackout curtains are especially effective for this purpose, but any curtains will provide some level of insulation. For maximum effectiveness, you’ll want to open windows at night to bring in as much cool air as possible, then shut your windows and curtains before the outdoor temperature starts to rise.

2. Reverse your ceiling fan

If you have ceiling fans in your apartment, they can help you cool a room without AC. Most ceiling fans can spin in either direction, and in the summer, you’ll want to make sure your fan is turning in a counterclockwise rotation. This will force air downwards, creating a windchill effect that will feel heavenly on hot days.

Not sure how to reverse your fan’s direction? Most units have a small switch on the motor housing, and you may need to stand on a chair or ladder to reach it.

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3. Hang up insulating window film

Most modern windows have a double-pane construction that helps to insulate your living space, but if your apartment has older windows, they may let more heat pass through. To keep the hot summer sunlight from turning your apartment into an oven, you may want to consider hanging up insulating window film. This film is often beneficial on west-facing windows, which are exposed to the afternoon sun.

This film comes in both clear and tinted options, and it will either adhere right to the glass or be mounted over the window using double-sided tape. Either way, window film is typically removable, making it a renter-friendly option, and it will keep your apartment cooler during the day.

4. Embrace the breeze

On days when it’s hot outside but there’s a nice breeze, you’ll want to take advantage of the wind as much as possible. If your apartment has multiple windows in the same room, leave them both open to encourage a cross-breeze, which will help cool down your living space. This cross-flow from your open windows is also beneficial at night to remove hot air and keep your space cooler.

5. Switch to LED bulbs

Did you know that incandescent light bulbs emit up to 98 percent of their energy as heat? It may seem like a small thing, but on the hottest days of the year, every degree counts! If you have any of these older light bulbs in your apartment, you may want to swap them out for LED bulbs. LEDs don’t radiate any heat, and as an added bonus, they’re also more energy-efficient and will save you money on your energy bills.

6. Invest in a powerful fan

Modern electric fan heater on floor at home

If you don’t have AC in your apartment, you’re definitely going to want to buy yourself a strong fan to stay cool. You can find fairly inexpensive fans in a wide range of styles—there are box fans, window fans, pedestal fans, tower fans, tabletop fans, and more. All of these types of fans have their own benefits, and many are able to oscillate to push cool air across a larger space. No matter which one you choose, it will create much-needed airflow in your apartment on hot summer days, making you feel cooler.

7. Sleep with cooling bedding

When the temperature soars, you definitely don’t want to be sleeping on flannel or microfiber bedding! These fabrics are known to retain heat, which makes them uncomfortably warm on hot summer nights. Instead, you’ll want to look for cooling bedding.

Cotton percale is known for being lightweight and breathable, and many brands even offer special moisture-wicking fabrics that stay cool to the touch, no matter the temperature outside. There are also cooling pillows that use gel to dissipate body heat throughout the night.

8. Don’t use large appliances

During the summer, the name of the game is avoiding anything that will raise the temperature in your apartment—and that includes using large appliances like your stove, oven, and dryer. These gadgets all produce heat that will warm up your living space, so you’ll want to avoid turning them on as much as possible to keep your apartment cool. So, go ahead—order takeout! Or, better yet, go out to dinner at your favorite air-conditioned eatery.

Obviously, you won’t be able to turn off your refrigerator in hot weather, but fridges do produce more heat if they’re opened too frequently. So, try not to stand in front of the appliance for too long—no matter how tempting it may be to bask in the cool air.

9. Manage the humidity level

Depending on where you live, high humidity levels may make your apartment feel extremely uncomfortable during the summer. This is because when the humidity is high, sweat doesn’t evaporate off your skin, increasing your body temperature and leaving you feeling clammy and overheated.

To take some of the moisture out of the air in your apartment and cool down, you may want to invest in a dehumidifier. These appliances come in a range of sizes, and you can find options that are suited for just one room or for your whole apartment.

On the flip side of the coin, if you live somewhere with extremely dry weather, an evaporative cooler (also known as a swamp cooler) will add humidity to the air and create a breeze in your home, which can help keep your room cool.

10. Take advantage of exhaust fans

Rear back view of young millennial housewife choosing and selecting mode on range exhaust hood, pushing button on mechanical fan above the stove, standing in modern kitchen at home

If your apartment is uncomfortably hot, you can get some of the stale air out with the help of exhaust fans. Chances are you have these fans in your bathroom and over your kitchen stove for ventilation, and turning them on will pull the hot air out of your apartment and bring in fresh air.

However, this will only work if the exhausts are actually connected to ductwork that removes the air from your living space—some fans, especially those over the stove, may just run air through a filter and redistribute it into the room.

11. Get a personal AC

Even if you’re unable to use a window air conditioner or another portable unit, there are a variety of personal cooling devices that can help make your apartment more comfortable during hot weather. Personal AC units are typically compact and designed to cool down just a few square feet, and many models actually use ice cubes to cool a room without AC.

These are ideal for setting up at your desk while working or even putting beside your bed at night. There are also models like the BedJet that blow cold air into your bed, keeping it at a more comfortable temperature throughout the night.

12. Cool yourself down

If you’ve tried several of these strategies and are still feeling hot, you may want to cool yourself down. Taking a cold shower or laying in front of a fan with a damp cloth on your forehead can help reduce your body temperature, making you more comfortable in the heat. You can also try drinking ice-cold water or putting an ice pack on your pulse points, like your wrist, to enhance the cooling effect, and if you go outside, wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing.

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Camryn Rabideau

Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer who lives in Rhode Island. She writes about a variety of lifestyle topics, including everything from interior design to pet care, and her work has appeared in publications such as Forbes, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more. In her spare time, she runs a small homestead with an ever-growing number of animals, a sprawling vegetable garden, and a roadside farmstand.