If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning in your apartment, you know it can be a lifesaver. But it can be expensive to run, and minimizing usage is a good way to go green and save money on electricity.
Here are the best ways to stay cool in your apartment during the hot summer months, with or without AC.
Ways To Cool Down Your Apartment
Use AC Efficiently
The quickest way to cool down your apartment is to add a room or window air conditioning unit (if your rental agreement allows). While they can be expensive to run, they’re great at cooling down a small space quickly. For most energy-efficient use, purchase an Energy-Star rated unit and choose the right size machine for your room. Of course, make sure to check your rental agreement before installing one.
To save money and energy and keep your apartment cool when you need it, take steps to use your air conditioning efficiently.
Be sure to keep your doors and windows closed while the AC is in use. Turn the temperature up (or the unit off) when you leave the house, or use a thermostat to set a schedule if you have central air. If you have a smart thermostat device, you can start cooling down your apartment before you get home so it’s at a comfortable temperature when you arrive.
Cooling Down Without AC
You can still keep your apartment cool even without air conditioning. Here are our top tips:
Increase ventilation: If possible, open windows during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning and late evening. You can create a breeze by opening windows on opposite sides of your apartment.
Use fans strategically to promote air circulation: Adding box fans to windows can help pull cooler air in and push hot air out. For rooms, an oscillating tower fan is ideal for moving large amounts of air. Position these fans near windows to help create a cross-breeze. This compact tower fan from Vornado creates full air circulation without taking up much room in your apartment. It’s also quiet, which is helpful when you’re trying to work, watch TV or sleep.
Use window coverings and insulate windows: Light-colored curtains or blinds can reflect sunlight away from your apartment windows to help keep it cool during the day. Blackout curtains can also help block and absorb heat from the sun and prevent some heat from getting into the apartment. If your apartment agreement allows it, a reflective privacy screen can be added to the window to block UV light and keep heat out. In addition, make sure any gaps around your windows that could be letting hot air in are fully sealed.
Shut doors to unused rooms: When not in use, close doors to unused rooms, such as the bedroom and bathroom, during the hottest parts of the day. This will allow the cool air to flow where you need it most. When the temperature is lower in the morning and at night, open these doors to get more airflow in.
Lower your mattress: Hot air rises and cool air falls. The coolest air in the room is closest to the ground, so the lower your bed, the cooler it will feel. You can also consider a gel mattress topper, which can make your mattress feel cooler.
Replace your sheets with cooling fabrics: If you’re having trouble sleeping due to the heat, switching your sheets to ones with a cooling fabric like bamboo or lyocell is a good option. A light cotton blanket is also a better option than a heavy fleece comforter.
Create a DIY Air Conditioner: Did you know you can create your own homemade “AC” with simple household items? Fill a shallow pan with ice and position it in front of a fan. The fan will blow air over the ice, making the breeze feel much cooler.
Unplug electronics when not in use and switch to energy efficient light bulbs. Electronics generate heat even when not in use, and when it’s hot you need all the help you can get in cooling down the apartment. Nearly 90% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is emitted in the form of heat. Energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs put off less heat and will save you money on your electric bill.
Avoid turning on the oven: If possible, avoid turning on the oven during the hottest parts of the day. Especially if you’re just cooking for one, using counter appliances like an air fryer or toaster oven can be an efficient way of cooking without heating up your whole apartment. Slow cookers and microwaves can be useful options as well. A slow cooker allows you to make large portions of meals at once so you don’t have to cook every day and can just reheat leftovers in the microwave during the week.
Add plants to your apartment: We’ve written at length about the many benefits of houseplants–and it turns out, they help cool your apartment as well. Placing tall plants such as bamboo or snake plants near windows is an effective way to block some of the sunlight and reduce the warm air getting into your apartment. According to NASA’s Earth Science Study, plants release extra moisture from their leaves back into the air when the temperature around them rises. This process of transpiration helps plants cool themselves and the surrounding environment, which can make the air feel cooler.
Keeping Your Body Cool Indoors
In addition to keeping your environment cool, it’s important to take steps to keep your body cool when you’re inside your apartment on a hot day.
Eat cool foods and drink cold liquids: Salads, smoothies and fresh fruits and vegetables are ideal foods for hot weather. Not only are they easy to prepare without generating heat, they keep you hydrated, which helps regulate your body temperature. If you’re normally a hot tea or coffee drinker, switching to iced versions is a cool way to get your caffeine without overheating. We love this home cold brew coffee maker that can also be used to steep iced tea.
Use cold compresses: If you’re feeling hot, apply cold, damp washcloths or ice packs to your wrists, neck, and forehead to help lower your body temperature.
Wear cooling clothing: Clothing made from natural fibers like cotton and linen is breathable and lightweight and can help you stay cool on a hot day.
What are your best tips for staying cool in your apartment? Let us know in the comments below.