How to Cool Your Room If Your AC Isn’t Working

The weather is reaching more extremes and the past few years have seen record-breaking heat waves. Now is the time to prepare for those spikes in the summer. Most people keep some fans in the house and making sure their AC is in working order.

But what if the heat wave comes and you have no air conditioning? Or what if the power goes out at the same time? How can you stay cool when the temperatures skyrocket . . . sans AC? Let’s find out.

How You Can Stay Cool Without AC This Summer

Prevent the heat from building up in your house by closing the curtains during the heat of the day. You can also cool yourself by draping a damp towel around your neck or soaking a shirt in water, wringing it out, and then putting it back on. Turn off any appliances that generate heat, including computers and the dishwasher.

Keeping the Heat Out of Your Home

The sun is the main cause of the heat that rises in your home during the summer. If you don’t have AC, then you’ll need to stop the heat from building up in the first place. This means looking at where the sun comes in.

South-facing windows are the biggest problem since they let the sun stream in all day. You’ll want to hang curtains over these windows or close the blinds. However, the best way to keep out unwanted heat is to use thermal curtains or heavy, dark curtains that have reflective backing.

Another option, which people have used extensively in heat waves, particularly in the city, is to cover the windows with aluminum foil or reflective blankets. This helps block the sun and reflects the heat back outside, so it doesn’t end up trapped in the house.

While it’s a longer-term solution, you may want to plant trees on the south and west areas of your property, as well. The trees will eventually cast shade over the home and give you some relief in the summer months.

Reduce Heat Generation Inside the House

Not all heat comes from outside. You may be surprised at how many heat-generating items are inside your home. If you touch an appliance and it radiates heat, it should be turned off to help keep the house cool. This includes:

  • Chargers
  • Stove
  • Oven
  • Dishwasher
  • Computers
  • TVs
  • Dryer

All of these appliances generate heat when they’re in use, which means it’s building up in your spaces. Since the AC isn’t working, you’ll end up with a higher temperature than you really want.

If it’s too hot outside, aim to eat cold foods whenever possible. This will keep your stove from adding to the problem. You can also consider using the microwave to heat meals if possible since it generates less heat than the stove.

Cool the Room Down

Once you’ve reduced the amount of heat coming in, you can work on cooling the actual space. It’s usually easiest to do this in one room, so close the door and focus and methods of cooling that particular room.


A fan doesn’t actually cool the environment, but it can make you feel cooler if you sit in front of it. As long as you have electricity, you can use electric fans, but without electricity, a magazine, stiff piece of cardboard, or something similar can work to move the air.


A large piece of ice set into an open cooler or ice box will radiate cold which can help drop the temperature of a small space. While it won’t keep the room cold, it can definitely help. If you add a fan blowing air over the surface of the ice, it will help even more.


Once the sun sets, the air outside will tend to cool down. This is a good time to open the windows and let the heat out. Just make sure everything is secure before you go to sleep.

Cool Yourself Down

Finally, you can cool your own body. A tepid shower is helpful for bringing your body temperature down, but even wetting your hair in the sink will give you some good evaporation. The evaporating water will help you feel cooler.

To enhance the process, you may want to put on damp clothing. Rinse a t-shirt in the sink, wring it out, and then put it back on. Not only will it keep you cooler, but you’ll also be downright chilly if you sit in front of a fan.

Can’t sleep because it’s too hot? Wash your sheets and put them back on the bed while damp for a more refreshing night. You may also want to keep a spray bottle on hand to spritz yourself and your pillow as needed.

Finally, try freezing some ice packs. The ones you get at the dollar store are perfect since the water doesn’t drip out of them. Just keep a few in the freezer and then pull them out as needed. Place the ice pack in the crook of your elbow, at the back of the neck or behind your knees for the best results.

You Can Stay Cool Without AC

While air conditioning is great, you should know how to survive a heat wave without AC. By blocking the sun’s rays, and cooling yourself and your family with water and fans and ice, you can make it through. However, it’s a good idea to plan ahead so you aren’t scrambling at the moment to find a solution.


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