5 Strange Ways to Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

Spending the summer without A/C can be miserable. But these five unusual strategies can actually keep you cool.


With the exception of one glorious summer of apartment dwelling, I’ve never lived anyplace with central air.

In fact, it wasn’t even until after I was married that I had a window air-conditioning unit.

My childhood summers were spent sweltering in our home, where the downstairs windows didn’t open and my second-story bedroom was cooled by one small fan.

I remember sneaking down to the freezer at night for ice cubes to run across my forehead in hopes I would cool off enough to fall asleep.

The heat can make you resort to all sorts of tactics to keep cool. If you’re feeling desperate, try one of these sometimes strange methods to find relief.

1. Take an icy foot bath

The fastest way to start shivering in 90-degree heat is to dip your toes into freezing cold water. Fill a bowl with cool water, and dip your little piggies right in.

Add some ice if you’re brave, but don’t overdo it. Quickly immersing your feet in ice-cold water can be painful — although I suppose it would take your mind off the heat.

While you’re at it, try running cold water over your wrists, or placing a cold, wet towel or an ice pack on the back of your neck or your forehead. Cooling down these pulse points can help your whole body feel more comfortable.

2. Wear some cooling clothes

To turn down the heat a notch and look fabulous at the same time, you could buy this stunning lime-green quilted vest from Amazon. Its evaporative cooling system is designed so that if you soak it in cold water for a few minutes, you can — in theory — wear it and feel cool and comfortable for hours.

Actually, you can buy a whole range of such clothing products that claim to keep you cool in the heat of the day. There are cooling caps, cooling sleeves and cooling bandannas.

However, my favorite by far is the Flexi Freeze Ice Vest, which not only lets you wear ice packs on your body but also gives the illusion of six-pack abs. I’m so putting that on my birthday wish list.

3. Freeze your sheets

You don’t need specialized sheets to stay cool at night. Simply take the ones you have and throw them in the freezer for a couple of hours before bedtime. Then, pull them out, put them on the bed and enjoy the cool.

Just fall asleep quickly, because on an 80-degree night it won’t take long for them to lose their chill.

Of course, it might become a bit inconvenient to remake your whole bed each night. So maybe try this strategy with just your pillowcase and a top sheet.

4. Go underground

Head down to the basement on those scorching hot days. Our basement stays so chilly that we sometimes use blankets down there in the summer.

Some people may balk at this idea if their basement is unfinished. However, don’t let that stop you. Simply clean out a corner and set up a chair or maybe a desk. Personally, I would rather smell musty than melt into the floor upstairs.

If your house is built on a slab, well, I’m sorry: You’re plain out of luck.

5. Live underground

Are you ready to get extreme? Then consider buying or building your next home underground. Sure, you might not get too much sunlight, but that’s a small trade-off in order to have your very own naturally cool hobbit house.

Often called earth homes, underground dwellings will give you the same cool air of the basement without making you feel banished from your main living quarters. If you’re ready to get drastic, you can look here for inspiration.

How will you stay cool this summer? Let us know in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

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