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Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

I am seeking advice on cooling. I know that in the northern hemisphere you are approaching winter, but here in the southern hemisphere, Australia, we are coming on to summer, and they can be ferociously hot.


I'm looking for suggestions on keeping my place cool in summer, and hoping some who experience hot summers there, may have ideas I haven't thought of.

I live in a second floor rented apartment, no structural changes can be made, ie., installing an air conditioning unit. The windows are large and face east which gets all the morning sun, and west, which gets all the afternoon sun. Of course I draw the curtains against the sun, and have simple fans, which however when it's very hot just blow warm air around by day end.

I would be grateful if anyone has any further suggestions on how I can beat the heat. Thank you.

By Ellie

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October 24, 20100 found this helpful

If there is any way you can shade your windows, (such as awwnings, or some sort of outside curtain), that would go a long way toward preventing your apt. from becoming a greenhouse. In the US, we can get freestanding "portable" air conditioning units, that have a large hose that vents to the outside by way of a window (no permanent installaton).

If you can, go to your hardware store, and ask if there is a reflective film you can apply to the window to keep out the sun before it comes in. If not, and you don't mind the look, cut some pieces of cardboard to fit up close to the window panes, and put aluminum foil on them. Place them in the windows early in the morning so that the sun can't come through the glass at all. You can take them out later in the day once the sun isn't hitting the windows any more. When you just close the curtains (especially if they're dark), the sun will come in and heat things up even if they're closed).

If it cools off at night, open up as much as you can, and try to get the place cooled down, using fans to move the air through.

Hopefully some others will have ideas, as well!

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October 24, 20100 found this helpful

I like to hang plastic sheeting over windows to keep the sun out. There are solar sheeting to put over windows for this but most of them are too thin and tear easily. I go to the hardware store to get the plastic sheeting and I get a ton of it for six dollars and some change. You can use a pressure rod, and tape the plastic sheeting over the rod and then hang it up. The same idea works in the winter to keep out the cold.

Also, when the house heats up, face the fans toward the open windows so the hot air will be forced out the windows. When the house is not really stifling, then turn the fans back around facing away from the window.



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October 25, 20100 found this helpful

Your landlord, if there is one involved and this why you can't make structural changes. May be interested to know that running an energy efficient window unit air conditioner cost very little, like $35.00 US a month. By installing some of the new fangled tinting for windows it can help save on heating costs too.

We have Home Depot here or Lowe's, but if you can find a store offering energy saving home installations for windows, doors, insulation, appliances etc. you could then approach the landlord equipped with the information for a fight for some changes. One that will save you both some money.

In the U.S. we get tax deductions for updating our homes for energy conservation.

If none of the above applies. A good heavy drape, not a curtain will do wonders to block out heat and sun. Be sure to look for ones with a backing on them. And be prepared for some extra cost to your wallet. They can be expensive.

Good Luck and stay cool!

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October 25, 20100 found this helpful

Simple changes in decor can help, take up all the rugs for a bare floor, white covers on furniture, even old sheets will create an appearance coolness. They can also be easily washed to keep them smelling fresh and clean. Before we had AC, I would spend time at a shopping mall just to cool off. If it is really terrible, put your mattress on the floor for the summer. Remember that hot air rises and cold air sinks. If windows permit, open them top and bottom. I live in the Midwest and the heat and humidity here fight to see which be the highest. The answers above have some of the same things I have used.

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October 26, 20100 found this helpful

I have used wide aluminum foil taped on the west windows, which will reduce the heat tremendously. I use masking tape to tape the foil to the window as it is easy to scrape off the windows with a razor blade and there is no structural damage done to window or sill when you are ready for the winter sun to warm your rooms. I also suggest you keep the drapes or shades pulled on the west windows after taping the aluminum foil to the windows.

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October 28, 20100 found this helpful

Covering the west windows all the time during the summer will help, unless the scenery is worth the heat.

I lived 3 years in Tucson, and got used to having the windows open all night, then closing them in the am trapping in the cool air. We had AC, but I didn't turn it on till afternoon.

If there is a way to find a swamp cooler, they are marvelous. They use a straw base for the cooling water that you pour in, then it condenses in a pan under the unit. You use that to keep the plants cool, or reuse it the next day. They don't need to sit in a window, so there is one solution.

If you have the fan, do turn them during the day as the other poster suggested. I have gotten so desperate that I have sat a big plastic bowl of ice cubes in front and then refrozen the water over and over, recycling the resource you have so little of down there.

Cool or cold rags soaked in water in the fridge help to wipe down the face and arms during the day, too.

I hope all this helps.


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October 28, 20100 found this helpful

Thank you so much for your suggestions. Some things I can't apply, ie, taking up rugs as the rooms have fitted carpets. The windows are sliding windows, not top.bottom openers, Usually they are closed on the hottest days, and opened at night, but believe me, sometimes the nights are barely less hot on the days. One good thing, last year our landlord had roof insulation installed.. had lived here for 12 years with no insulation, so that may help to keep things cooler this summer. Thank you all again.

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October 28, 20100 found this helpful

I got my idea from the good people here on the forum. I live in southwest Florida right on the Gulf coast and it gets brutally hot here, too. I put up bubble wrap on my windows. It's easy to do, just buy a roll of bubble wrap, cut to the size of your window, spray the window with water and stick the wrap on the window. When it's time to remove it, you just peel it off the window.

With my patio sliding door, I not only did bubble wrap, I then went out and bought a very inexpensive shower curtain liner. I bought a pack of small suction cup hooks and hung the liner over the bubble wrap for extra cooling protection.

Has all this worked? A year ago our average electric bill would be $200 a month. This summer our highest bill has been $134 and our most recent one was $128. I make it a point to never turn on the air conditioning until at least noon. It goes off at night and we use fans.

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October 29, 20100 found this helpful

Can you buy a portable air conditioner? All you need to do is open a window a crack so that the vent pipe can hang outside and remember to empty the water tank in the unit.

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April 10, 20110 found this helpful

I don't recommend a portable air conditioner unless it is butted right up to a sliding door or a hole can be put in the wall directly behind the unit and the unit flush to the wall. I bought one last year and had to take it back, because the more length of exhaust hose the more heat is generated indoors. The hose gets hot and my room actually did not cool at all even though cold air came from the unit. Too much hot hose and it can not keep up with cooling.

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October 24, 20100 found this helpful

When it is 100 degree (F) outside, inside the apartment (900 SF) is 92 degrees. The apartment does not have air conditioning equipment. What can be done to decrease the temperature to 80 degrees in the apartment for at least 8 hours?

By yyao from Seattle, WA


Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

There are a few things you can try:

  • Block the light coming in from your windows during the day. This can be accomplished with heavy drapes or light-blocking vinyl roll-up shades (check with your landlord before installing).

  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent, they put out less heat. Turn off lamps you aren't actively using.

  • Only use your oven/stove, dishwasher or clothes dryer very early in the morning or late at night.

  • If you have ceiling fans, run them counter-clockwise to create a "wind chill" effect (you can feel a cool breeze when standing under the fan).

  • Place fans in your windows to pull in cooler air in the morning and after the sun sets, then turn them around to blow out hotter air in the afternoon and early evening.

  • If you feel comfortable doing so, check for air leaks around windows and doors and talk to your landlord about sealing them.

  • Also check to see if outlets on exterior walls are insulated, a lot of air comes in around those. If not, you can purchase inexpensive foam insulators at a local hardware store.

  • If you have gaps at the sills of doors and windows you can either purchase or make "draft dodgers" out of fabric. Sew the fabric into a sleeve that is a bit wider than the door or window and fill with rice or beans. You can find instructions for this on the internet.

  • Check your local university extension office or website for even more ideas.

Good luck, I know you PNW folks aren't used to hot weather like you're having and as a midwestern gal, I feel your pain! (08/01/2009)

By lah34a

Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

Put a pan of ice in front of a fan. It makes the air cooler, good luck. (08/02/2009)

By kffrmw88

Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

As soon as the air is outside is hotter than inside, close up to keep the cool in. When the air inside is hotter than outside, open up to let the cool in. Fans help to circulate air inside and also to draw cool air in and force hot air out as was stated above.

For personal use, especially if you are older or have young children, you can wear a wet scarf, bandanna, or towel around the neck or simply wear a damp shirt. This will help to regulate body temps. Water is very cooling.

These are the best I came up with in a non-air conditioned rental for 17 years in the desert of So. Cal. Toward the end of the day you can also water down your porch areas, assuming you want to pay for the water? Stay cool. (08/02/2009)

By lookslikerain

Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

An old fashioned remedy my grandmother used was to put a large bowl of ice inside an even larger bowl with crumpled newspaper between the bowls (this helps the ice last longer). Then set the bowl in front of a fan. She always set the bowl on a stack of old newspapers, also to keep the ice longer and prevent watermarks on the table. A couple of these kept her large room very cool. (08/02/2009)

By plumcottage

Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

I have a few suggestions to go along with the ones that Lah34a sent.

She suggested using your stove/oven, dishwasher, and clothes dryer only in the early morning or late at night. I go one step further and I don't use my oven at all, and my stove rarely. Instead I use my microwave and a toaster oven. They use a lot less electricity (helps with the bill!) and don't heat up the kitchen at all. I only run the dishwasher once a week and then I don't turn it on till I go to bed. And as far as the clothes dryer, my husband is in the process of installing a clothes line for me. When I do use the dryer tho, it's only late at night.

But I only use my oven in winter when it helps to heat the house up.

I keep a fan running in the living room when I'm up and one in the bedroom when I go to bed. And I have ceiling fans in both rooms. In the bedroom at night I put a box fan in the window, with a tower/oscillating fan in front of it. This keeps my room nice and chilly for sleeping!

If it gets really hot, I take a cold shower. I'm not one that can step into a cold one tho, so what I do is start out with it kind of tepid. I get into it and after a few seconds I lower the temperature of the water just a tiny bit every few seconds till it's as cold as I can stand it. Then I stay in there for a few minutes to cool off good. I also wet my hair because having wet hair seems to help me feel cooler all over. After I get done I shove my dogs into the shower and give them a cool shower, too. They need cooling off as much as I do!

I also keep a spray bottle of water next to me. When I get hot I spray my face, arms, feet, and legs. I also spray my dogs' bellies and feet, too. The feet are especially important (mine and theirs) as they get hot so much quicker. Sometimes I wet a pair of socks and put them on. Haven't figured that one out yet for the dogs tho!

And of course I drink lots of ice water. And wear very loose clothing. I have several loose house dresses that I wear on hot days.

And someone suggested wearing a damp bandanna too. That's another thing I do. I especially wear one of these and keep a spray bottle with me when I am on the riding mower. The trimming is let go till early morning or evening.

Solar curtains have also helped to reduce the amount of sun that comes into the house. They have dropped the temps in mine by at least 10° since I put them up.

Of course you could always get a kids wading pool and fill it up and sit in it with a good book! LOL Been there done that lots of times!


By Cricketnc

Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

I have a window unit and it helps, but have considered a portable, so I could easily move it from room to room, which would be a blessing. However in order to produce cool air, heat is generated. With a window unit the heat generated stays outside the room, but with a portable the heat would be inside, not very efficient. (08/03/2009)

By ginnee

Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

When I didn't have A/C, I had a exhaust window type fan in the window. When it was cooler at night, we turned on the fan, lifted windows where we were to bring in the outside cool air. In the morning, when the temperature was still cool outside, we would turn off the fan, close all the windows, and run inside fans. It could be as much as 15 degrees cooler inside than it was outside. Then in the evening when the inside and outside temps were about the same, I would open the windows and turn on the window exhaust fan and bring in the outside air. This is the way we survived with no A/C for about 3 years. (08/04/2009)

By quickcooker

Reducing Inside Temperature Without Air Conditioning

I bought one of the so-called "portable" air conditioners from Canadian Tire. They are the ones on wheels, that look like a dehumidifier. It isn't really "portable". It has a long "exhaust hose" that looks like those flexible dryer vent hoses (that we're not supposed to use). The hose has to be vented out a window, through a "window kit" that they supply with the a/c unit. So you have to have a window that you can fit this contraption into, and you have this long, ugly hose stretched across the room all the time. I took it back and got a small "window unit" that fits into any window.

So they say, take a picture of your window, along with the measurements, and type of window (i.e. casement, side slider, top or bottom opener, etc.) and show them to a salesperson who can read and interpret the directions on the box, and get them to tell you what kind of air conditioner you can use.

You also need the room area, or size, or you can do without and buy a good fan, fill your bathtub with cold water and stick the fan in the bathroom door, throughout the day, add cold water. To conserve the water, use a bucket to scoop out the water to flush the toilet, and use the rest at night to water your flowers or lawn. Keeps my house cool and my flowers looking good, too! (08/04/2009)

By catastrofy

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