Recently on Twitter, I started a thread about staying cool in the summer when you don’t have air conditioning (or don’t feel like you can afford to run your A/C all the time).
Back in 2010, I lived in an apartment in Caldwell, Idaho. That summer, from late June until roughly October, it was over 100 every single day. Seriously. Over 100. I had a rickety air conditioning unit in my apartment, but I was terrified of using it. I did so occasionally in the evenings, but never for more than an hour. The rest of the time, I found creative ways to stay cool. I shared abbreviated versions of these in my Twitter thread here.
I thought I’d expand on my tips to better help my fellow college students or recent graduates out there. But I do want to share a disclaimer: if it is legitimately hot in your area of the world and the temperatures inside your home or apartment are reaching dangerously high, just turn on the A/C. It’s truly not worth damaging to health to avoid a bill. Local social services offices can and will help pay high energy bills.
That being said, here are a few tips for beating the heat and avoiding the A/C.
1. Make sure all your windows are covered.
I ended up buying black out window coverings back in 2010; they now hang in my son’s room, conveniently. But at the time, I bought them because they help weatherproof your home: they keep out both the brightest rays of the sun and keep out the cold in the winter. It’s a win-win. As much as I love having open windows, having black out curtains is the first step to keeping your house cool.
2. Make sure you weather proof.
In my older apartment, there were some major gaps in the door frames. I mean, major. I could hear every car that went by, every conversation of people walking on the sidewalk. Seriously. I bought a roll of weatherproofing strip at Home Depot for around $8 and added it to my doorframe. This helps keep hot air out and the cooler air inside. It’s also great for the winter because, of course, it keeps cool air out.
3. Hang up wet towels.
This is going to sound bizarre, but stick with me: when you hang up wet towels to air dry, the air around them cools. Seriously, there are articles about this. I frequently did this in my apartment and aimed fans at them. And, really, it worked.
4. Get the hot air out.
Whenever I got home from work, back in the day, my apartment would be the worst. Because I wasn’t home, it was stagnant and super hot. I would aim one fan out my kitchen window (the side where the sun always hit and it was the hottest) and one fan in my bedroom window (the shady side of the house): this created a cross breeze through the apartment, bringing in the air from the shady side and pushing out the hot air. It worked a charm.
5. Wear wet socks.
You might think I’ve gone crazy, but this was truly the best thing I did to cool down back in the day. I would get a pair of socks and get them really wet, then wring them out; then I wore them around the house. Yes, you’ll leave wet foot prints everywhere, but honestly, it was worth it. At night, I would sleep with a fan aimed at my feet (wearing wet socks) and stay super cool the entire night. Don’t believe me? Try it, I promise it will change your life.