When a heat wave strikes unexpectedly, it doesn’t take long for your house to fill with suffocating hot air. Before you know it, you’re more than a little uncomfortable and need to cool your home fast. Luckily, there are several ways to get the job done so you can turn a hot summer night into a good night’s sleep. Try these tricks to push warm air out and let cool air in for nearly instant comfort.
The Best Way to Cool a Room Quickly
Follow these steps to stop summer heat in its tracks.
1. Get Rid of Heat Sources
There are plenty of things in your home that create heat, and every little bit will add to the overall temperature and make it take longer to cool your house in hot weather. Wherever possible, turn off these heat makers:
- Light Bulbs: All sources of light give off some heat, so use as few as possible and keep them dim if you can. Incandescent lights are the worst, which is why you should switch to CFLs or LEDs if you haven’t already done so for the energy savings.
- Appliances: You obviously need your fridge and freezer, but skip using big heat makers like the dishwasher, washing machine and clothes dryer during the hottest part of the day.
- Cooking: Using the oven or range can bump up your room temperature by several degrees. Hot nights are the perfect time to enjoy no-cook salads and sandwiches. If you must have a hot meal, try grilling outdoors to spare your house.
- Computers and Screens: Keeping your computer and its peripherals on all the time is convenient, but it does add heat to the room (or your lap). Shut them down for the night when you’re done working to help keep your room cool — you’ll also lower your electric bill while you’re at it.
- The Sun: Don’t forget that when the sun shines in your windows, it really heats things up during the day. This is especially true of south- and west-facing windows; thankfully, covertness with insulated curtains or honeycomb blinds adds a layer of protection against the sun’s rays.
2. Remove Hot Air
Cooling down your house requires replacing all that hot air with cooler air. To make quick work of this task, you’ll want to increase the airflow in your home so that hot air blows out and cool air blows in. Believe it or not, the fastest way to do this is by aiming that box fan out an open window instead of having it trained on your reclining chair all evening — as long as the air outside is cooler than it is inside. To take advantage of cooler night air, get to work the minute the outside temperature drops below your interior thermostat reading by doing the following:
- Open the Windows: Let the cold air in!
- Create Convection: If you have double-hung windows, raise the bottom sash and lower the top sash so you have two openings in each window. This allows cool air to flow in the bottom. As hot air rises, it can escape out the top sash instead of being trapped along the ceiling.
- Create a Cross Breeze: Focus on moving air through your house by having air flow in one side and out the other. In bedrooms with two windows, aim a fan out one while allowing fresh air to flow in through the other, taking advantage of any natural breeze outside as you decide where to place your fan. For rooms with only one window, keeping the door open allows a cross breeze to form from elsewhere in the house.
- Use Your Exhaust Fans: Kitchen or bathroom fans that vent to the outdoors can help remove heat as well — so turn them on! You can also turn large fans into exhaust fans for your whole house by aiming them out the window of the upper floors while keeping all doors open. This will remove the heat from the hot upper stories while drawing cool air in and up from the first floor.
3. Reduce Your Body Heat
One last thing to do while you remove heat from your living room is to take care of your own body temperature. Try these quick tips for personal cooling to make any room feel cooler.
- Take a Short Cold Shower: Cool water will instantly make you feel better, and you can reap the benefits for longer if you let your hair air dry. The ongoing evaporation as this happens will keep you comfortable for an hour or two.
- Cool Your Furniture: Try using ice packs to keep your sofa or bed cooler as you relax, since these padded areas can hold in body heat. You can fill a hot water bottle and pop it the freezer, or use freeze dry rice packs or portable buckwheat pillows instead. You can even try freezing your bed sheets and placing them lightly over your body for a little extra cooling.
- The Egyptian Method: If you have cotton sheets, you can go totally old school with this trick. Use a wet sheet and ring it thoroughly until it’s just damp (the spin cycle on your washing machine can help with this). Place it over your body before bed, and allow the evaporation to cool you while you drift off. If you have a ceiling fan over your bed, you may find this to be a remarkably effective combination.
- Go Solo: The more people you have in your house, the hotter it will be when all those bodies release heat into the air. Create some distance between you and your partner and loved ones as you sit on the couch or share a bed so you aren’t radiating heat into each other. Make sure there’s plenty of space for all to stay cooler.
- Fake It: What if it’s not any cooler outside and you can’t open the windows? Trick your body into feeling cooler by sitting directly under a ceiling fan or in the path of an oscillating fan. This won’t actually be adding any cold air to your house, but feeling the air on your skin will help any sweat evaporate to activate your body’s natural cooling process. Sip an icy drink and avoid expending any energy to get the most out of this method.
How to Cool a Room Down Without an Air Conditioner
Once you’ve done everything possible to cool your body and get rid of excess heat, it’s time to bring in the cool air. If you don’t have an air conditioner, you can do this by relying on multiple fans to bring cold air in from the outside once the temperature drops, as detailed above.You can also create cold air with a DIY air conditioner. The easiest way to set this up is to place a shallow pan filled with ice water in front of your fan and aim it to blow directly on you. As the cold water evaporates, it will lower the temperature of the surrounding air, and you’ll feel it on the breeze as it hits your body.
If you live in a reliably dry climate, you can keep your house cool with a portable evaporative cooler. This is a more efficient way to harness the power of evaporation to create colder air in your home, and you can move it from the living room in the day to the bedroom at night to keep any room comfortable.
How to Cool a Room Down With Air Conditioning
While you might not mind using a few hacks to cool your room in a pinch, the fastest way to add cold air to your home is with an A/C unit. If you don’t already have central air, window units and portable air conditioners also do a great job chilling the air — especially if you make sure to keep out the heat with some of the other tips listed above. For the fastest results, make sure your air conditioning unit is properly sized for your room.
To do this, measure your room’s length and width, and then multiply these numbers together to calculate the square feet you need to cover. As you shop, check the recommended square footage on each A/C unit to get the coverage you need. A good portable or window air conditioner will also have a thermostat that allows you to control the temperature so it’s not running non-stop.Whether you’re trying to weather a surprise heat wave or just want to learn to live without an air conditioner for as long as possible, these tips and tricks will help you keep your house as cool as can be. When you do decide to add air conditioning to the mix, you’ll be able to run it less when you’ve already done everything to keep down the heat. With this knowledge, you can cool down any room fast for a more comfortable evening and a better night’s sleep.
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