Green Ways to Keep Cool without A/C
Updated: Feb 8
Summer’s soaring temperatures can leave you sweaty and reaching for the thermostat. But if you don’t want to increase your carbon footprint to cool down, there other solutions. It wasn’t so long ago that all of humanity lived without air conditioning and kept cool by creative and natural means.
Here are seven ways to keep cool without cranking the A/C!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
The CDC recommends you drink lots of water in hot weather. When you get hot, your body sweats to evaporate and cool the surface of your skin. To sweat, you need to stay hydrated. Keep an insulated water glass or bottle with chilled H2O for sipping before sleep or if you wake up hot in the night.
Block out light and heat
About 30% of heat in your bedroom comes through your windows. Double-hung Low-E windows help, but you also need to block light. Blinds and blackout curtains or shades keep out the heat-causing light. Once the sun goes down, you can pull them back and let in the cooler night air.
Close off unused areas
When it’s time for bed, on extreme high-temp nights, you might want to turn on the A/C just a little. If you close off other rooms and shut the vents elsewhere, you can put the air conditioner on low and set it to keep the bedroom cool just until you fall asleep.
Get a cooler mattress
Sleeping as a couple on hot nights can be a sweaty ordeal. If you have a memory foam bed, it’ll sleep hot and exacerbate the high temperatures. When you’re in the market for a new mattress, look for a cooler bed. Latex mattresses sleep cooler and are long-lasting, so you avoid generating waste.
Use seasonally-appropriate bedding
Natural fiber moisture-wicking sheets are a top choice for sleeping cooler. Microfiber and smart fabric sheets work year-round to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. Investing in durable, quality sheets, that last to prevent needless consumption (and from switching on the A/C).
Plan your activities for cooler nights
Another way to keep your house and bedroom cooler without air conditioning is to minimize heat-generating activities during hours you’re at home. Wash clothes at night, then put them in the dryer on your way out in the morning. Also, avoid using the oven and opt for grilling out or chilled meals.
It can be tempting to enjoy the modern convenience of lowering the thermostat, but if you’re trying to live greener, it’s not the way to go. Learning to keep cool without A/C will take some planning and experimentation. Also, allow your body time to acclimate and adjust. Don’t give up!
Try the “Egyptian method”
Summer nights can be sweltering and uncomfortable, but the Egyptian method may help. Start with a wet flat sheet (wring it out or put it through your washer’s spin cycle). Drape it over your body while you sleep so evaporation can cool you. Adding a fan to the mix can heighten the effect.
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. Her preferred research topics are health and wellness, so Amy's a regular reader of Scientific American and Nature. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.