Five DIY Alternatives To Running An Air Conditioner

Five DIY Alternatives To Running An Air Conditioner
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Don’t have an air conditioner and can’t take the heat? Don’t want the huge electricity bill that might result from using AC all-day long? Whatever your motivation, here are five DIY ideas to stay cool this summer.

Title photo courtesy of Becca Schall.

Create A Makeshift Air Conditioner

If you don’t have an air conditioner, chances are you have a fan. On its own, though, a fan isn’t always sufficiently cooling. If your home is a hot air trap, blowing that hot air around isn’t going to help much. Instead of just running the fan and hoping for the best, take a shallow bowl and fill it with ice. Place the bowl in front of the fan and as the ice evaporates, it will cool the air.

Cool Your Drapes

If it isn’t hotter outside than it is in your home, you’ve probably cracked a window already to at least cool things down a little bit. If you’re finding an open window isn’t sufficient, spray a sheet with cold water and use it to cover the window’s opening. As the breeze passes through, the cold and damp sheet will cool it bringing in chilled air and further helping to reduce the temperature in your home.

Schedule Your Windows

If all you have are windows to work with, you can still use them to your advantage. While the difference is more significant in arid environments, the temperature outdoors cools at night, and that’s the air you want to let into your home. If you keep your windows closed while the sun is up and open them while the sun is down, you can trap the cooler air in your home and keep the temperature a few degrees lower. Even better: Set up a couple of inexpensive box fans in windows on opposite sides of a room to create a nice through-breeze.

Make Your Own Air Conditioner

Sometimes the best alternative to an air conditioner is an air conditioner, especially when you can make it yourself on the cheap. And what could be cooler than a portable USB air conditioner made from a water filter?

Do Nothing

Much of the heat in your home comes from heat-generating sources within it. If you avoid generating large amounts of heat you won’t have as much need to cool down. Air drying your clothes, skipping the dry cycle on your dishwasher and turning off your computer(s) when they aren’t in use are all good ways to keep the temperature down.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Check out an earlier Ask Lifehacker post on how to beat the heat, and share your extra tips in the comments.


    • Keeping the windows closed does not work in a Queenslander House, The house just becomes an oven. Queenslanders seem to work better when you have every door and window open and hopefully a breeze. The cool sheet idea would work nicely though.

      • I 2nd this (from Darwin NT) as keeping your windows closed during the day will only trap in hot air. You want your House to bleed thermal energy (heat) and retain coolness so the trick is to only keep the windows shut for a short time after it cools down (such as early mornings and after a big storm). But if you keep your windows open the blinds down and the fans on you can make it more bearable. And louvered windows rock for ventilating your house not big plane windows as you can open the window to something like 99% not 50% and you can hang damp towels and sheets on the louvers. other tricks also involve painting your tin roof white and putting roof vents in to get rid of hot air buildup in the roof.

  • Someone hurry up and invent the wormhole [Einstein – Rosen bridge]. There are places in the Northern Hemisphere currently spending a fortune on oil heaters. They could have our excess heat for a fraction of the price, even less if they have a return deal in OUR winters.

  • As much as I know some people will be appalled by my water wastage, the house we are renting has a massive bush outside the lounge and living room windows, with a sprinkler system from when it was obviously a little bush. Given how big it is the sprinkler is useless and not needed, until we have a massively hot day. Crank it for 3-5 mins and turn it off. Easily knocks 5 degrees out of the lounge and living rooms.

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