how-to-keep-your-house-cool-without-an-air-conditioner

How To Keep Your House Cool Without An Air Conditioner

We survived two miserable Colorado summers without air conditioning before we got the technique of keeping the house cool (somewhat) mastered.  When my cousin lamented on Facebook recently that their house was 82º at 10 AM, I asked if she’d like some tips on keeping it somewhat cool during the day without air conditioning, and before long, my simple list of tips exploded into a 1,100 word+ blog post.

Yes, there is a systematic process to keeping your Colorado home from getting hotter than the inside of an oven during the day.  Yeah, you can do this or that for some marginal relief, but if you want to keep the house cool, it’s a multi-step process that must be followed for success.


Keeping the house cool is serious business, people.  Roughly 2/3 of Colorado Springs homes don’t have an air conditioner for reasons I’ll never completely understand.  If you want to install an air conditioner, I say go for it.  We probably will someday, and you’ll probably get your money back when you sell it if you get a few bids and sell it during the summer months (crank up that AC for showings!), says my Realtor husband. Here’s more on the value of an air conditioner when reselling your home.

But, if you aren’t in the place to install air conditioning and also aren’t one of those sweet little souls who says “Heat?  Oh, it’s not bad, just turn on a ceiling fan and you’ll be so cool you’ll practically want to wear long sleeves!”, here’s what you need to do:

Go buy box fans for every window in your house.

OK, maybe not every window.  But you’ll want several fans. I think at our peak, we had five for our 3 bedroom house.  They run around $15 or so at Walmart or Target (and can sometimes be found on clearance at the end of summer).

Every day at 5 PM, start monitoring the temperature outside.

You are looking for the outdoor temperature to drop below the inside temperature.  If we’re lucky and get an afternoon thunderstorm, it can cool off pretty quickly.  However, if the storm comes too early in the afternoon, it will sometimes cool off and them warm back up, so watch this.

Once it’s cooler outside than it is inside, proceed to the next step:


Pull cold air in and push the hot air out.

You will never get anywhere if all you do is blow the cool air in.  It will feel better temporarily, but you need to get the temperature in your whole house to drop in order to stay cool the next day.

Use your box fans in the windows to pull the cold air in (usually you’ll want to pull in from the north windows so you can get the help of any cool breezes) and on the opposite sde of the house, suck the hot air out.  A good cross-breeze is essential to flushing out the hot air of the house and you’ll have to create it artificially since the real breezes are not very regular.

A whole-house (or attic) fan accomplishes this step with very little effort.  We paid about $1,500 to have one installed last year and we loved it, though I’m not going to lie and say it’s the same as having air conditioning.

If you are OK with sleeping with the windows open, you can keep the fans running all night long, pushing the hot air out and pulling the cold air in.  If you go to bed at 8 PM and don’t want to leave the windows open, it’s not going to have nearly the same effect.  But maybe if you go to bed at 8 PM, you get up at 4 AM, which is usually the coolest part of the day anyway and it’s a good time to do the air flush technique.


Cool it off as low as you can get it, and circulate the air.

Oh, you can’t stand to sleep with the temperature below 70º?  Sorry, you’re going to have to deal with it, or deal with a hot house the next day.  Cool off the house as low as it will go (our goal is 65º though that can be difficult if the outside temperature takes awhile to go down), then turn your fan on circulate and run it for awhile to make sure the cooler air is distributed throughout the house.

Also – make sure your heater is off if you cool your house down significantly.

Close the windows.

After you’ve cooled it off and circulated the air, close the windows and keep them shut.  You need to keep all that cool air inside, and if you keep windows open, your indoor temperature will rise with the outdoor temperature.

Jeremy installed this giant ceiling fan when we were told during our first summer here that a ceiling fan was all we needed to keep cool.  It’s nice to have, but has done nothing to help keep the house feel cool!

If you just need air circulation, turn on ceiling fans or use your box fans to blow some air around, but do not open the windows again until the outside temperature is cooling than the inside.

Your house becomes tighter than jail on lockdown the next day.

I’m only partially kidding.  After you’ve gone to the effort cooling off the house, you have to keep it cool, and about the only way to accomplish this is to keep it locked up tight.  I’ll say it again: keep the windows shut, but also the blinds and curtains and doors.  Playing outside may need to be relegated to mid- to late-afternoon.

…but you’ll be cool as a cucumber.

This is not a substitute for air conditioning.  If you are not in Colorado, and are somewhere it’s both hot and humid, you have my sympathy and please go buy yourself an air conditioner at the first opportunity.  If you are in Colorado and have an air conditioner and don’t run it, I am sorry but that is cheap. ;)

But, if you live in a place like Colorado where it cools off at night, this simple (haha!) strategy might just help keep you from getting too hot inside this summer.  If we cool off our off to at least 68º, we can often keep it to around 80º inside during the day, which is still hot but is tolerable.

Earlier this week, when the highs were in the high 90s and it didn’t cool off much at night, we kept it to around 80º until around 3 PM, and it got up to 84º before we were able to open up the house and cool it off. Thankfully, there are only a couple of weeks a year that get that hot without cooling down much at night, and even then, you can still keep it sort of tolerable for at least a good portion of the day.

This is not a pick-and-choose strategy, however – you really do need to follow all of these steps to make it work.  For those of us who get slightly cranky with the heat, it’s worth the effort, though!

Bonus tip!

Oh, and one more tip: run your bathroom fan while you’re taking a shower.  It will suck the hot air out and help you keep the house cooler.  It doesn’t seem like it does much until you compare the difference in steam on the bathroom mirror when you run it versus when you don’t!

Do you have a technique for keeping your house cool without an air conditioner?  What’s your secret?

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  1. Thanks for posting this! our window won’t hold air conditioners and we’re renting, so we can’t install. I was wondering about locking the house down in the morning when the house was cold, and this confirms it’s a good idea!

    • Yep, it works for us! It actually works REALLY well when we are gone all day… Evidently we heat up the house quite a bit just living in it, even with it on lockdown, haha.

      • We are going to try it out tonight, I’m going to get up around five and shut the house down, because tomorrow is supposed to be hotter than blazes. Do you have any frugal tips on keeping miller moths at bay? Never saw them before we got here, and now the only solution at night to keep them from dive bombing you when you go to the bathroom is to keep a light burning somewhere in the house…all night. I know they are seasonal and almost done, but I’d like to be prepared for next year….

        • I wish I had miller moth tips! I haven’t noticed them much for the past month, sorry you still have them. :(

          Maybe someone else has miller moth expertise… Anyone? :)

          • Unfortunately Miller Moths are a pesky problem in Colorado. Again, unfortunately, it does take a light source to get rid of them. My tip: Place a bright nightlight in an outlet near the floor, away from your bedroom. Place a bowl full of water and dish soap under the nightlight. They will be attracted to the nightlight, will see their reflections in the water, and will fly into it. Once wet with soapy water, they cannot fly away, but drown instead. Sounds rather harsh, but it works.

            • Christina says:

              I let our cat play with them he loves them and when one sneeks in he has a ball. You can take a bowl of soapy water or lemon water and somehow they are attracted to it. Our church has them hear and there and it works.

  2. We live in a bi level home and we also have an attic fan And we leave a window cracked downstairs to create air flow and our house usually stays cool. Don’t get me wrong I would prefer AC, but ast least it takes the edge off!

    • Yep, same way here – we would totally prefer to have AC but it can be tolerable. However, Jeremy and I both lose a couple of days of productivity a year due to it being too hot to even THINK at home. :)

  3. if you have a basement get a huge commercial grade fan and blow the cool air up the stairs (probably won’t work as well if your stairs don’t go straight up). i only turn on our a/c maybe 10 times a year but blow that cool air up every afternoon/evening

  4. In addition to all that, which is good, it is very important that your attic be well ventilated. Otherwise, all that heat will radiate down from the ceiling on you all night even if it’s 55 outside and your windows are open. A whole-house fan that blows into the attic is great, we have one of those. One of these days I’m going to install a solar-powered roof mounted fan (like http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-527SHON104BLK-20-Watt-Mount-Powered/dp/B005O0TJVM/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pdT1_nS_nC) that should help even more.

    We also have a box fan style “swamp cooler” to cool the main living area.

    • I think they actually installed a couple of new vents in our attic when they installed the whole-house fan. I wonder if wonder if that in and of itself might have made a difference, even without the attic fan? Good point!

      Sort of off topic but speaking of solar-powered roof mounted stuff, has anyone seen the houses that are popping up that have solar panels all over the roof? I’ve seen a few lately (not sure if I’m just now noticing them or they are relatively new) and was curious if people were finding them to pay for however much it must cost to have them installed.

  5. Valerie says:

    Before we got a/c installed, we found that running the fan on the heater (without turning the heat on) also helped to circulate the air, and it will fool you in to think its colder in the house when you feel a cool-ish breeze blowing up thru the vents! :)

    A/C isn’t as costly as you think. We had it installed for $2500, and added a whole house humidifier for an additional $300. So so so worth it!

    • You also have to count the cost that it takes to run the AC. Still worth it but it always takes me a minute to remember that it costs a lot to run, too! Adding a humidifier is a good idea, too – and probably costs less to have it done at the same time as the AC than to have it done separately!

    • I always wondered what it costs to install AC here, I’m from the South so it took me a long time to get used to not having AC. We are thinking next summer we are going to have it put it in our house, it’s just not civilized to live in a house without AC..lol!

      • I think those of us who are transplants from warmer states where EVERYONE had AC are the ones that want it the most, LOL.

  6. Don’t forget too, meal plan and plan meals that don’t need the oven for days when its really hot! Makes a huge difference

    • And cook planned leftovers – roast an extra chicken and make chicken salads or something else cool! :)

    • Christina says:

      I love my crockpot and grill during the summer. I am so grateful for Albertson’s deals so we have grilling meat all summer. The crockpot still creates heat, but not as much as the oven. I have even considered putting the crock in the garage on a table and letting it do it’s job out there.

  7. Is there a point to not having an AC besides saving a little money? Doesn’t it cost a lot of money to run all those fans? And, isn’t it worth it to have an AC if you are totally uncomfortable and can’t even THINK in your own home? I am just trying to understand the reasoning behind not having AC.

    • Rather than put in AC and use electricty to run it, we built our house with 2×6 walls and put lots of extra insulation in our roof. It was a one-time expense (and those outer walls were heavier to raise), but our house stays a lot cooler than even our next-door neighbor’s house. It went up about the same time as ours (a couple years apart) but has 2×4 walls and less insulation up top. We’ve always gone with a philosophy of heating or cooling the person, not the entire house. So someone might take a cool shower or bath when s/he feels like s/he is ‘roasting’, just like the cold person in winter puts on a sweater. Part of our point is to save money, and part of it is to use fewer resources.

      We have similar practices to those Carrie mentioned, such as closing and opening windows/blinds at certain times of day, and we have a fan we use sometimes to help draw in cool air at night. I also second the idea of not cooking hot meals indoors or baking when it’s hot. I can bake things in the evenings if need be, and we use our grill a lot too. You can do a lot of cooking with a solar oven here, too…but the winds sometimes cause issues. I also know a lot of people who use crock pots in summer, just not in the house. They put them outdoors, in a screen porch or screen covered box (to keep flies away).

      I do think it’s hotter here than it was even a decade ago. I haven’t checked statistical data to confirm or refute that, but it seems hotter (and drier) to me.

      • Jeremy washes his feet in cold water frequently in the summer, lol!

        And, like you said, cooking extra food to have leftovers can be a lifesaver. These days, whenever we grill (and I’m planning ahead enough!), we throw a couple of whole chickens on the grill for an hour or so after our main meal has been cooked so that we can eat them the next couple of days. They are delicious and then I get to keep from cooking meat for THREE meals instead of just one. :)

        Of course I always end up cooking other stuff to go along with it, but it’s less heat created than it would be if I was cooking meat.

    • Yes, it does cost some money to run the fans, but I doubt that it’s anywhere NEAR what it costs to run AC – similar to running the fan in your car versus running the actual air conditioner, probably. Plus, you run the fans for awhile at night; you have to run the AC throughout the day to keep it cool.

      Like I said, we would really like to have AC, but it does cost money to install and run, and since it’s only for a couple of weeks out of the year that it’s really unbearable, we deal with it. Evidently most other people agree since our house is far from in the majority. :)

  8. Heather says:

    I definitely agree with Jennifer about not using the oven. We also try to wash our clothes on cold, air dry the clothes, and set the delay on the dishwasher to run later in the (cooler) night. Anything to keep from heating the house.

    We all tend to take cooler showers in the warmer house, so I was wondering last night if we’re saving much on our gas bill by not having to heat up the water!

    • I wonder about the water heater, too, even with stuff like rinsing the dishes in cold versus slightly warm water. I feel like it’s one of those things that saves so little that it’s probably not worth stressing about to save $3 a month, but that’s just me.

      (I actually started using warm and hot water to wash some laundry awhile back after using cold water for years and though we don’t keep terribly close track, we didn’t notice an increase in gas bills. What I DID notice is that our clothes get cleaner, which is probably a bigger savings in clothing replacement costs versus what we’re spending in extra gas to heat the water.)

  9. We bought a $400 portable AC unit (the type that sits IN the room and doesn’t need to be installed), it’s been a lifesaver at nights in our bedroom.

    • OK I get being hot during the day and wanting AC, but if you’re hot at night in Colorado you’re doing it wrong.

      • Ashley N says:

        Or your house just has a bad layout. We’re in a townhome with other houses on the North and South sides and windows on the East and West. It is SO hard to get a good breeze in this house, especially in our bedroom. So it doesn’t always get much cooler at night.

        • We don’t have great north/south windows, either, so it’s especially hard to take advantage of the cool breezes that we do get. :( Sometimes, we’ll crack our north-facing garage door a bit and keep the inside door open to blow air through that way. Better than nothing, but if you have big ol’ houses on the north side I suppose you can’t do a whole lot about moving them. :)

      • Depends what time you have to go to bed. When we lived in CO, my husband had to go to bed before the house got it’s nice nighttime chill or one of those days the wind didn’t blow (and the MBR was on the 2nd floor).

  10. A Reader says:

    Don’t forget to switch your ceiling fans so they are blowing DOWN in the summer, too.

    Here are a whole bunch of other ideas, and confirmation that A/C is an energy hog!!
    http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/cooling.html

    • Ah, good point – totally forgot to mention to mention the ceiling fan switch! Although, if warm air rises wouldn’t you want them to suck up instead of blow down?

      • A Reader says:

        That always confused me–but this site (Mr. Electricity) has done the calculations (for this among many other things!) and says no, down is the way to go to move air around you.

  11. If you aren’t home during the day, follow Carrie’s advice to cool your house overnight and lock the heat out while you’re gone. Then plug a swamp cooler box fan into a timer on an outlet so that it will come on a couple hours before you get home – which is probably when your house is hottest. When you home, there will be some cool air moving around your house and you’ll have less hot air to blow out of the house.

    Also, if you’re considering getting AC, wait and have it installed in the winter. You can probably negotiate a better price on installation when the contractors aren’t so busy.

  12. If you buy a ceiling fan, you can get a remote from Home Depot or Lowes that will monitor the temperature and adjust the fan speed accordingly. Just learn from our mistakes and be sure that the remote sensor can get signal from the remote when the remote is where it will spend most of its time.

  13. I bought a portable swamp cooler last summer for about $150 from Sears.com. It works well if you’re just trying to cool one room in the house (like our really hot bedroom), and it costs less to run than A/C. Something to consider.

  14. I would recommend a evaporate cooler. It’s cheaper to purchase and costs about the same as a fan to run and will cool the house to the point where we have to turn it off because it’s too cold! This will work well where it’s hot and dry (Colorado)

  15. I grew up here in CO, and we didn’t get an A/C unit for my house until I was in my Junior year of High School. Mom and Dad put in the attic fan when I was in about 4th grade or so.

    We’d follow the same basic ideas – Mom and Dad would open the east side of the house in the late afternoon to exhaust the heat, and we had box fans at one end of the upstairs hallway, and one at the most closed off end of the main floor. They were on all day long…At night, we’d open the windows (we lived in a really safe neighborhood and never had issues), leave those fans running…in the morning, the east side of the house would get closed up tighter than a drum (windows, blinds, curtains, doors), and the west side of the house would get opened wide up until about 9am. After that, we’d close it up, until right before dinnertime…good memories of making my voice weird with those fans…

    Some other tips we use in our house (even though we have A/C now that i’m grown up and married) – I don’t use my dryer in the summertime. It’s only a 3-year old unit, well constructed and insulated etc. BUT, last summer when I was having to wash and dry diapers for my youngest, I noticed that the laundry room was HOT – I had run the washer on hot water, and then the dryer…In July of last year, I tried something – I still used the hot water for the load of diapers, but I dried them on my drying racks…in front of a box fan…it took a lot longer, BUT the air blowing across those diapers was cool because of the moisture, and the house stayed cooler because I wasn’t running a dryer! I haven’t run my dryer since late April when it started warming up. I air dry everything (which in Colorado takes no time at all since it’s so dry!) on my drying racks on my deck in the sun. They smell good, they get disinfected from the sunshine, and my house stays much cooler.

    If you MUST do any baking or oven cooking, do it as early in the day as you possibly can and run your range hood fan ONLY if it is vented to the outside!! This gives the heat and odors time to dissipate before the day gets too hot. I use my crockpot a lot in the summer because it doesn’t heat up a large space, AND we are blessed to have a microwave that is also a convection oven so I can do things like cookies and brownies.

    My friend used to pay for dry ice blocks and put them in pans in front of their box fans with a little water. He swore the ice would help cool the air as the fan moved the air around it. He did this on the hottest days of the year.

    Check all the caulking around your windows – inside and out! Once that caulk gets cracked and dried out, the seal is as good as gone. It will still be water tight, but NOT air tight…simple to do – remove all the caulk from around the window, wipe the area clean, and put in paintable caulk rated for “windows and doors”. Once it’s cured, you can paint it. This should only need doing once every 6 – 8 years or so, unless you have full southern exposure, then do it every 3 years. By the same token – check your doors!!! Make sure your threshold is actually at the bottom of the door or the door sweep (that rubber or metal thingy across the bottom of the door). Simple foam weather stripping tape can be added to the door frame where the door meets the wood. If you have a window in your door (called a “light”) find a way to hang a curtain across it – a simple cafe rod with an inexpensive panel goes a long way! Make sure your storm doors (screen doors) are actually hung correctly, and still creating a seal. We added some full-light (glass panel for more than 70% of the door) storm doors about 4 years ago, and the difference is tremendous from before, when we just had our solid door.

    Also – crack open your garage door a few inches. Remember that when you pull your vehicle in, it is emitting heat like crazy!!! If the door is closed up tight, that heat will just linger in your garage and rooms above and next to it will have a harder time staying cool. I actually get to be at home all day, so I can leave my door open for a few hours after we come in…(again, that safe ‘hood thing!), and then I leave it open about 4 inches. If we’ve ever had any issues with visitors, they’ve not been long term – no stray cats or mice…

    Keep plants at your windows! It sounds odd – but those plants not only help to filter your air naturally, they’ll help keep things cool because they have high moisture content and need to respirate…PLUS, it gives you a way to do some container gardening! Plant herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme, cilantro and dill in pots that you can keep around your windows, and you’ll have delicious, fresh and ORGANIC herbs to season your cooking for pennies!

    Keep your patio umbrella or awning open and angle it to help shade the house, unless you’re going to sit under it! Casting shade on any area of your house will help to keep the temps down indoors!

    My final way to keep cool? Do all your upstairs work early in the day, do your outdoor work prior to 10am whenever possible, and then come inside and keep things closed up tight and spend some quiet time in the afternoon reading books, hanging out in the basement, etc.

    And if you can’t do the A/C, cover the thermostat display so you can’t see how warm it is…I once spent a portion of JULY in Laughlin, NV, in a blacktop parking lot for a convention, where the temps got up to 115. As long as someone didn’t come by and tell us the specific temperature, all we knew was that it was hot…but it was bearable until we knew the specifics…then we fixated on it…

  16. Crystal says:

    Why haven’t evaporative or swamp coolers been discussed at all? Especially as dry as it is in Colorado. They cost little to run, they are fairly inexpensive and they can cool the house down considerably. We have a smaller swamp cooler than is recommended for our square footage, but it keeps the main level at 72 degrees, give or take a few degrees depending on the temperatures outside. And boy oh boy do swamp coolers feel so good when you come in from outside and need a cool down! Ours is window mounted and we just stand in front of it and smile!
    We have a ton of windows in our house which poses a problem with trying to keep the house heat down. Our blinds are metal blinds which close out and reflect a lot of the intense sun, so at least we have that in addition to our cooler.
    Our kitchen is the hottest place, due mainly to the fridge and doesn’t get a whole lot of airflow because of the way the swamp cooler circulates through the house, so in that case, I have to keep a fan in there sometimes to make it bearable!
    My husband works in the detached garage and without something to help cool his work space down, the phone and the computer will not work properly. He ended up finding a free swamp cooler on Craigslist and installing it through one of the garage windows. Wowy! What a world of difference. I love to go visit him sometimes as it is cooler in his “office” than in the house!
    For those considering A/C, try a swamp cooler. It does wonders for your skin as well. I don’t need to use a whole lot of lotion during the summer and my hands crack less due to the humidity the swamp cooler puts into the house, considering all the digging around I do in the dirt. The one caveat of a swamp cooler is that your food will go stale FAST if you do not keep things closed tightly.
    Our neighbor has a roof mounted swamp cooler run by a digital thermostat and it channels the cool moist air through their duct system to cool down the house kind of like A/C.
    As a child, I remember not having anything but box fans to help cool us down. Then my parents bit the bullet and bought a swamp cooler when I was probably 9 or 10. I’m now 31 and they still have the original swamp cooler and have never had any problems with it, other than to replace the pads (which is a cheap investment each year to stay cool)! If I drive over to their house with a Coke Slurpee in hand on a 95+ degree day and walk into their house (which is much bigger than ours), I need a jacket!
    I would say that the swamp coolers are something to seriously consider for the frugal minded.

    • Ashley N says:

      I agree! We were just given an old swamp cooler and it is AMAZING!

    • I love in El Paso where summer temps are 95+ with humidity usually less than 20%. My house has a swamp cooler AC unit and I’m not sure if it is broken it what but during the heat of the day my house was so hot I had to strip down and take long cold showers and even had to wet towels so I could feel something cool against my body. I only open my doors a few times a day to let dogs in and out and I’m home alone until my husband gets home so I’m the only body heat besides my dogs. My questions is that the sand here is crazy will this cool down method still work? Because if it did I wouldn’t mind trying it out and cleaning a mess later

  17. We have a 2-story house, with bedrooms upstairs. On those scorching summer nights when the bedrooms were too hot, we let our kids (elementary age) sleep in the finished basement, where it was much cooler. They loved it! Sometimes we set up the tent, so they could “camp out”.

  18. Christina says:

    We have a 2 story house and just uncovered our attic fan we seal it tight for the winter. We suck in all the cool air at night it is great. I cook once eat twice or cook late evening really late for the next day. Cool the house off in the morning and shut it up. Especially with the smoke it makes it hard for me to breath.

    • I did have problems with allergies last summer, when the attic fan was sucking in all the pollen. That was definitely a drawback!

  19. The way we keep cool on a very hot night is to get a water bottle and spray your bed sheet. Use a fan to blow over it.It will get so cold in a bit you will be using the blanket soon.
    Another way is to spray your bed clothes with cool water and use a box fan.
    After washing your cotton blouse shake it out put it on and let it air dry u keep cooler and it dries in no time.
    We live in over 100 degrees most the summer.

  20. Our house in CO had the 2 story family room with the “wall of windows” that faced east. The upper windows were uncovered. Blinds just weren’t very practical and I considered adding a window film but I like how the sun warmed the house in the winter. I ended up building solar screens, pretty much window screens with a shading fabric (that I got at Lowe’s I think, maybe HD) I popped them into the interior of the windows at the beginning of summer and that made a dramatic difference in how hot the house was. They were not perfect and making them gave my hand a wicked cramp but it was well worth it. I put 2 thermometers on the floor- one with the uncovered sunbeam and one in the shaded sunbeam and I want to say it was 10 degrees cooler.

    We had a portable AC for the bedroom for those nights when it was still hot at bedtime.

    • Oh, that’s a good idea. I know a lot of houses have those high windows that are impossible to reach – temporary solar shades are a great idea!

  21. Carrie,

    Just trying to get a picture in my mind of how the fans are set up… do I put the ones on the cooler side so they blow into the house and the ones on the warmer side facing so they blow out of the house?

    Thanks! :)

    • Yep! If there’s any sort of a cooler breeze or air you want to take advantage of it. Of course, if it’s windy, you kind of have to go with the flow of it or the wind will knock your fans out of the windows. :)

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Oh my gosh, I love you! I feel like just in the past two days I have mastered the whole “make the house freezing at night and then shut it tight early in the morning” thing. The one thing I hadn’t done was pushing the air OUT. NICE! We are looking into a whole house fan, too. And checking out the insulation in the attic, too. It gets way hotter in my 3-year-old’s room, poor guy. I’m thinking above his room needs some serious attention.
    Also thank you for this post because I feel beat up by all the people that make me feel stupid for wanting an a/c. 90 degrees INSIDE my home is NOT acceptable. !!!! :) :)

    • SO happy it worked for you! You are not stupid for wanting AC, LOL – I am glad for all of the people that posted that they’d like it, too, because I feel the same way as you sometimes. :)

      We kept our house to below 80 until about 5 PM today, which I think is fantastic!

  23. I’ve been doing this for years , only difference is that we have a ranch with concrete walls in the basement, so I do a lot of “pulling” the cold basement air up-stairs. It’s vitally important to shit everything up once it’s warmer outside than inside.
    My frustration is that I can’t get my friend to understand it! She insists on a cross breeze all day and her split level roasts! Then she can’t sleep and her health suffers.
    I hope others can read this and understand!! Thanks!!
    (ps: we invested in a swam cooler last year to help on those nights when it doesn’t cloud up — just to help the kids rooms to cool off some.)

  24. CoolCucumber says:

    My sister recently purchased 2 box fans to cool her apartment. It took her 45 minutes to decide which brand to purchase, but she finally chose and began the most important process of getting her apartment cool!!

  25. 82 degrees at 10 am sounds comfortable to me. You could perhaps just get ceiling fans and you’re ok. I came across to your site coz we’re 114 degrees at 10 pm in the night and I was looking for ways to cool off. Although this cracks me up, but nice tips nevertheless.

  26. Lynda V.E. says:

    I have a question, and maybe someone can help….I have an apartment where nothing can be put in or out the windows. I had a fan in the window and the landlord complained. I have an OLD air conditioner that doesn’t do a good job, but it’s only in the living room and the bedroom has nothing but 3 hard working fans. I’m not allowed to have an indoor a/c due to the need to put a hose out the window. I already had them check the a/c twice and they say it works fine. (Ha. I disagree.) The building I live in was built without insulation, so we get the frigid cold in the winter and blazing heat in the summer. Does this mean I’ll just have to suffer?

    • Have you thought about a portable swamp cooler? Not all models need a hose out the window & they are more cost effective to run than a/c. Yes, it is miserable to have restrictions on what you can do. All the best!

  27. There are a lot of reasons that people in Colorado don’t have AC in the homes, but I think the biggest reason, as a life-long resident, is that it is much hotter here in the summers than it used to be a decade ago. Fort Collins rarely got into the hundreds in the summers and now it is pretty regular. We also used to get rain, snow, and fewer forest fires. But i digress…

    Outside of that, the installation and operating costs are steep. I know that is why I don’t have AC in my 108 year-old home.

    The fan method really does work, with one exception, Colorado nights aren’t as cool as they used to be. The other night it was 80 degrees until 3am. I suspect that as our globe warms, Colorado residents will have to accept this new reality and get AC.

  28. It can be brutal in the summer here in Boulder, CO.

  29. Wonderful tips here, everyone! Hope I can help: we live in Indonesia n let me tell you: time to add a porch with a roof! Create as wide a porch with a roof as affordable on all sides of the house that get hit with sun. Tile the porch if possible and grow plants @ the perimeter or build a half-wall and top it with potted plants which get watered early-morn and @ night when it cools. Trees are best! Water the tile as well. Keep things on lock-down during the heat but keep an exhaust fan running all the time either aimed into a high window or a hole in the roof somewhere. The difference is like (a cool) night n day. It can be baking around you but step under the porch even in midday and you will be relieved.the key is to keep the direct sun away. Clay-tile roofs also make a huge difference, but insulation may work as well. We do use a one-room, split a/c for our bedroom for purifying the polluted Jakarta air n also cuz I’m from Minnesota ;) Hope this helps. Stay cool, everyone n keep our carbon footprint to a minimum at the same time.

  30. I can’t find a window AC that lasts more than one summer plus about 1 month of the second year! What the heck?! I’m in Iowa, where summers are hot and humid. Last summer, my one-year-old Frigidaire started blowing fuses right and left. Coils are clean. I have cardiac issues and must be cool at night. I live in a 2-level townhome that’s 55 years old with original wiring and brick outer walls. Any ideas?

    • Christina W. says:

      I would buy an ac unit and buy the extended warranty so when it dies it is covered. I would also have your fuse boxed checked it may need to be updated. (hubbies two cents he knows electricity and wiring.

  31. Meredith says:

    Thanks for posting this again Carrie. I was going to look it up anyway since we just bought a new house. It was built in 2011 with no A/C we probably will be installing A/C in the next year but until then I’m glad I have a plan.

  32. How many fans!? 4-5?!
    I think you’re wasting energy because the window is not sealed around the fans
    JUST LIKE IN A COMPUTER CASE you want to have it sealed around the fans and blow OUT
    that way in your bedrooms you can open your windows and the cool air will STREAM IN! and quietly because the fans will be in other windows of your house .
    I have a piece of cardboard in the window at the top where there is no fan and i seal the fan in the window with box tape (TRUST ME THIS WORKS GREAT)
    My bedroom quickly gets to 73 degrees or less and i have to turn down the fan to the lowest setting. I use 2 fans on high at around 7 pm when it starts getting cool outside then later only 1 on low.

    • Tara mcmillan says:

      I think once the house reaches lowest temp it will go, you shut off the fans and close the windows. We dont leave the fans blowing all day with the hot heat outside.

  33. We have a 1800 sq feet home and run the AC in the summer – at 76 during day and 71 at night – our xcel bill is consistent at about $110-120/month – I’m a stay at home mom with a 18mth old so we need to have it cool during days – any idea how much we can save with just ceiling fans and floor fans?? Just wondering if it will be worth it for us by how much we can save:)

  34. Tara mcmillan says:

    This is so cool, we do exactly this, and when I read your post, it made me excited to see I am not the only one. We are in St. george utah, and when it hits july august we have to use our air at 80 in the day and 83 at night. In the mornings its 80 outside so it never cools down enough to open up :(

    BUt I do have to say it works for all months but the couple of hottest in the summer. Then we get to reajust in the winter for 67 in the house lol.

    • Tara mcmillan says:

      Oh and you are so right, we have gotten the house down to 61 once :) freezing inside, but later that night it only cooled off to 78, so nice…

  35. Michelle says:

    Wow this is very helpful. I’m in Thornton Co, and it gets about 94 degrees in my house which is so hot for my 3 yr old daughter and I. We have a portable ac unit that the hubby uses during the day to sleep in the bedroom. I’m hesitant to open the windows at night cause of our neighborhood, but am going to try this. For all those people that think if you need ac you should just buy it, not everyone has the money to buy central ac.

  36. When I moved to Key West in 1986 (a subtropical island, humidity gets between 80% to 100%). I lived in a house turned apartment. No ac for 14 years and it was a killer. having a box fan in the window only moved hot air around and there was no relief at all.
    I would go to the Kmart or Winn Dixie and stay there for 2 hours to stay cool, but had to go back home in the sweltering heat. In 2000 I bought my first 10,000 BTU AC ( the bedroom is a 9X9 with 10 foot ceilings and blankets for doors until I bought 2 accordion doors. I am glad. They tell you it is possible, but they don’t tell you you will be miserable.

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