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Stay Cool This Summer: Air Conditioner Alternatives

This article was written by in Health. 13 comments.

Rather than firing up the central air conditioning, you can keep it off or lower its power in the heat of the summer by exploring some of these low-cost alternatives.

1. Use fans. While fans don’t change the temperature of the air, they increase air movement, which will make you feel cooler by a few degrees. Look for fans with large blades. In general, the large blades will move more air with less power and less noise.

2. Cool the air naturally. If you hang damp sheets in front of your window, air coming into your house or apartment will lower the temperature of the air as it enters.

3. Wear light colors. Black fabric absorbs heat while light-colored fabric reflects. Light-weight fabric allows your skin to breathe. Fashion aside, proper summer clothing can help keep you cool.

4. Install shades and blinds. By keeping your rooms shielded from the sun, you can avoid direct light and heat. Keep the blinds closed during the day and open the windows during the night. There are window coatings available that let in light while keeping out heat. Try searching Home Depot for heat and glare control window films.

5. Wear a cooling bandana. Here’s a stylish way to keep yourself cool. Cooling bandanas can be soaked in water and are worn around the neck. As the water evaporates your body remains cool. You can find cooling bandanas on

6. Avoid chores. Forget about using the clothes dryer or the oven; these appliances emit heat, so your cooling system must work harder whenever you’re cooking or drying. While the weather is hot, eliminating strenuous chores will help protect your body from dehydration. Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided as well for the same reason.

7. Spray yourself with water. Never was a wet tee-shirt contest a better idea. Keep yourself wet with sprinklers outdoors or spritzers (water bottles with a spraying handle) indoors.

8. Leave the house. Take advantage of large businesses that must keep their air conditioners running to keep customers comfortable; take a trip to the mall. If you do stay in and run the air conditioner, however, keep the thermostat high and supplement the house cooling with fans.

Where I live, the temperature has been above 90 degrees lately, with the heat index over 100 this past weekend. I don’t have it quite as bad as those in Texas, for example, but heat makes everyone uncomfortable. As someone I knew used to say, you can only remove so many layers of clothing.

Beat the Heat Without Busting the Budget, Rodika Tollefson, LifeWire

Published or updated July 23, 2008.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Regarding #8. It’s a good strategy in principle. I’ll just note that libraries are usually air conditioned too. And they present fewer opportunities for spending than do malls.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

My HVAC has been acting up of late, so I’ve started just opening the windows and running the fans. It’s really not that bad, even when the temperature outside gets close to 100. Still need to get it serviced before August, though.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

It’s not my blog, but I’d give reply-of-the-day to Kate! Going to the library is a great way to save on cooling costs and also avoiding spending money you would spend at a mall or movie theater or on a general shopping run at Costco, etc.

We actually do this as a family activity quite often on weekends. We take our 3 kids to the downtown library for several hours picking out books and movies and playing some games as well. We always make sure to raise the temperature on the thermostat to over 85 while we’re away. So we’re making smarty-pants kids who can read an appreciate books and saving money. What a deal.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

Easier said than done when you live in Florida. It’s not just the heat here, it’s the humidity. A lot of people out west who live in 100 degree weather, agree that the humidity in Florida is unbearable. It might work in some areas to turn off the A/C, but our place would feel like a sauna if we didn’t use it. We keep it at 78, which I think is very reasonable.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

Where I live its typically in the mid 90s with a heat index well into the 100s and humidity hovering over 60% (which is pretty muggy). I crank that AC down to 70 or otherwise we’re all be sitting around sweating. I’d rather be broke than sweaty. Besides the point of air conditioning is not to cool the air, it’s to remove the humidy from it (to “condition” the air).

But I do other things to help the AC out. I don’t turn on the stove to cook – either its the microwave, toaster oven, takeout or cold foods. I only turn on the dryer at night. And I close the door so the heat doesn’t spread to the rest of the house. If I’ve been running errands I will not pull my hot car into the garage – which is next to the kitchen – no need to unneccessarily heat it up, which in turn heats up the kitchen. I’ll pull the car in at night after the engine has cooled off. I use the ceiling fans that I have in every room. I also keep the blinds closed when the sun is on them. I keep all closet doors closed – I’m not paying to heat my wardrobe and other crap in storage. And yes, I avoid chores like vacuuming or anything else that makes me hot or can produce heat – I’ll do it at night or in the morning.

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