Family eats outside on the barbecue after learning how to stay cool without air conditioning.
Photo Credit:
Adobe Stock
Let’s get resourceful!

Beat The Heat: Hacks for Staying Cool Without AC

Ashley Robinson
June 13, 2024

Summer is coming and we’re probably in for another hot one! And for most of the United States, summer means one thing: high electric bills from air conditioning. Air conditioning is an energy-intensive process, so the best way to save money and energy is to keep the AC off as long as possible. So with the heat waves coming, what can you do to leave the AC off for longer while still staying cool?

The Energy Cost of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning takes a whole lot of energy, and with rising average temperatures across the country, it’s becoming increasingly necessary for comfort and safety, even in parts of the country where AC didn’t used to be commonplace. As of 2020, 90% of US households used AC in one way or another, and this is likely to increase. All this air conditioning adds up to a lot of energy usage (and potential emissions). Nationwide, AC usage makes up an average 12% of home energy expenditures. In warmer parts of the country, AC can account for 27% of the home energy budget. That’s a lot of electricity and a lot of money in bills!

From a financial and a climate perspective, it makes a lot of sense to try to leave the AC off as long as possible. Especially during the shoulder seasons, or if you live in an area where evenings tend to be a little cooler, there’s a lot you can do to keep the home cool without kicking on the AC. Here are some basic tips for staying cool without AC!

1. Insulate and Seal Your Home

No matter the season, having a well-sealed and insulated home will help you regulate the temperature efficiently. In colder weather, you don’t lose precious heat to air leakage, and in summer months, you can trap cool air from the evening (or from AC) to stay comfortable through the heat. Start by identifying where air leakage may be occurring, then try weatherstripping to seal up the leaks! For larger homes, especially older construction, it may be worth having a professional perform an assessment to really understand where the leaks are and help seal them.

2. Install Some Energy-Efficient Window Coverings

Summer sun can deliver a lot of warmth right through your windows, so blocking the rays can help keep your indoor temperatures down. This can be as simple as lowering the blinds or drawing the curtains when direct sunlight hits a window, or you can look into some specialty energy-efficient window coverings. This doesn’t mean you have to close all your shades the whole day—just focus on blocking strong, direct sunlight!

3. Open Windows at Night (and Close Them During the Day!)

Sometimes in warmer weather, we may just throw the windows open and leave them that way all day and all night. But to keep your home cool, it’s better to pay a bit more attention. During the heat of the day, when the outside temperature is warmer than your house, close the windows to conserve the relatively cool air in your home. And as soon as it’s cooler outside than inside, open up those windows and encourage natural night-flush ventilation to cool your space down.

4. Get Cooking Outside!

Stoves and ovens can put off a lot of heat when you’re cooking, which can quickly warm up the whole house. Take advantage of the nice weather and embrace outdoor cooking! Grills, outdoor cooktops and ranges, pizza ovens, even portable induction burners can all make cooking outside fun, and they won’t heat your house up. And if you don’t have a great outdoor space to cook, embrace no-cook meals to keep your kitchen nice and cool!

5. Do Your Chores at Night

Big appliances like dishwashers and washing machines can also generate a lot of unwanted warmth, so try to run these in the evenings, when you can open windows up and allow the heat and humidity to vent outside. And if you’re set on baking, try to keep this to those evening hours too so the oven isn’t on during the heat of the day.

6. Set Your Ceiling Fan to Rotate Counterclockwise

Ceiling fans are designed to rotate in both directions, but each direction has a different effect! In the warmer months, make sure that your ceiling fans are set to rotate counterclockwise. This pushes the air down towards you, which will help create a nice breeze to keep you cool. Even when the AC is on, using ceiling fans can help you keep the thermostat up to 4°F warmer without

significant difference in comfort!

7. Get the Most Out of Fans

Fans can help keep you cool in a few ways: wind chill and natural ventilation. Using room fans and ceiling fans to create a breeze can help you feel cooler and more comfortable by creating a wind chill effect. And using window fans and exhaust fans (like your kitchen hood or bathroom fan) can help encourage natural ventilation by drawing warm and humid air out and cooler air from outside in.

8. Consider a Dehumidifier

A lot of times, humidity is a big reason we feel uncomfortable in warmer temperatures. While dehumidifiers still use electricity, they’re generally more efficient than air conditioners. Air conditioners cool and dehumidify the air at the same time, but if you’re trying to leave the AC off, a dehumidifier might make a big difference in comfort in the home! Dehumidifying the air can also have health benefits, as moisture can encourage mold and bacteria growth that contributes to asthma. Just note that you’ll have the best results (and use the least energy) if you use the dehumidifier during the day, when your windows are closed.

As summer heats up, see if you can use some of these strategies to keep the home cool without using the AC until the real heat waves hit. Hopefully, you can save money on electric bills, keep your home cool and fresh, and minimize your environmental impact all at the same time!

Most recent posts
Save money. save energy.

Related Articles

See all >
A cozy patio with garden furniture and warm lighting
Opening up

Spring Maintenance Checklist For Your Home

A spring maintenance checklist to work through when preparing your home for the warmer weather.

Green walls, and a bed with two side tables, showing an energy-efficient bedroom.
A place to recharge

Seven Tips To Create An Energy-Efficient Bedroom

Here are seven ways to create a more energy-efficient bedroom and get through the night without any electrical bill bad dreams.

A woman is stopping a leak and on the phone with her renter’s insurance.
Protect your stuff

Home Sweet Home: A Guide to Choosing Renter’s Insurance

Is rental insurance worth the investment? Discover some of the essential considerations for selecting a renter’s insurance policy and whether it's worth the price tag.