What Air Conditioning Alternatives Have You Used That Actually Work?

What Air Conditioning Alternatives Have You Used That Actually Work?

Air conditioners keep your house cool, but can drive your power bill up pretty fast. We’ve checked out DIY alternatives before but want to know what works best for you.

Photo by Jeremy T. Hetzel.

How do you stay cool in the summer? Do you utilise natural methods? Evaporative air coolers? Stick a bowl of ice in front of a fan? Something else? Let us know!


  • Dont have airconditioning myself. Use fans and drink water. I suppose if I wanted a really cool room I might take bars of heatsinks and screw them to the walls, ceiling and floor as paneling to draw off heat in the room.

  • Ducted evaporative cooling. Amazing, and uses very little electricity. Leave it on for most of the summer and it adjusts the fan speed according to the temp in the house. You leave the house open so that the air moves throughout the house.
    The only time that it doesn’t work well is when it is when the humidity is high.

  • When my son was a baby we were living in military housing and airconditioning was a luxury we couldn’t afford. So when he got a temperature one very hot summers day, I arranged damp towels on both sides of his cot and used a fan to blow air over it which in turn dropped the temperature in the cot down very nicely…! 🙂

  • I would recommend brewing a big jug of herbal peppermint tea and putting it in the fridge/freezer to cool. Have a drink with some iceblocks when its hot and the peppermint will naturally cool you down.

  • Leading up to a stinking hot christmas day one year I went to bunnings an bought a hand held preasure sprayer, the 1 ltr size. Fill it, pump it, adjust a very fine mist spray and spray yourself occasionaly. Using a fan helps. Oh and CLEARLY label the sprayer for WATER ONLY and keep away from kiddies if you have these lying around filled with weed killers or the like.

  • Two car radiators with icy water from 3m depth in the dam. 12v Solar pump to circulate water via a disc particulate filter. 4 old 12v cpu fans to blow warm air into a cowling in front of the radiators. Changeover switch to use 12v via mains power after sunset.
    Pump, panels, regulator under $400 au.
    150W solar panel $170 through mates solar company at cost. Pump is ex solar hot water.
    For those without a dam, a large rainwater tank would work. Fans are a bit noisy. Could use a 240v desk fan.

    • This does not sound like something you’ve actually done/tried. It sounds like an idea you had when drinking.

      • No drinks involved. Just a thoery on how to sink the heat.
        I saw a failed attempt to do the opposite to heat a pool using petrol or kerosene. Hardly heated the flow from a garden hose through a radiator.
        Guess my idea would also be trying to heat water. Though just enough to remove the heat.

  • I spent a fortune on a fancy Daikin ducted system about 10 years ago. It was one of the bigger financial mistakes I made. My house is split level. The bedrooms are upstairs. If I want to run the airconditioner at night in the bedrooms, I have to cool my large loungeroom… If I had known this, I would never have put this thing in. It cost me about $10k, and i’ve regretted it every day – even though Daikin is reliable.

    Better options would be
    * Ceiling fans
    * skylight windows
    * a pond out the back near a window for a cool cross-breeze
    * extra insulation
    * high ceilings
    * wide awnings
    * tinting
    * water sprays
    * small split systems

    But I would put a ducted system LAST on my list. The “engineer” that designed and installed my system conned me. If I know what I knew now, I would NEVER, EVER put a ducted system in again.

    • Have you tried closing the vents in the used rooms. You can even get motor operated valves inside the ducts to shut off whole areas that aren’t needed. With a second thermostat you could set up dual zones set to different temperatures.

    • It just sounds like a bad design for your actual needs, not a problem with ducted air conditioning in any way..

      The only option clearly is a set of automated ducting controls that open/close/redirect airflow where you want it – controlled from your phone. You can have this product idea. You’re welcome.

  • Open windows at night to cool naturally. Then close every gap and insulate well before sun comes out. At least it doesn’t gets too hot until mid day. It works well only if you prevent sun light from entering.

  • Open windows at night, curtains closed at day and a $20 fan in each room.

    If it’s really warm, clothes off and damp towel from the freezer 🙂

    And if it’s unbarable before bed, air con set to the bedroom with a timer set for 1hr to turn of after we’ve fallen asleep.

  • I keep a fan in each room pointed at the main place where I’m likely to be sitting (or sleeping). Of course this only really works if you’re single, and can cause your skin to dry out a bit if you’re not careful.

    I open the windows at night (after checking temperatures – sometimes it’s actually warmer outside). I also have a fan located directly in one window to force the airflow overnight and pump extra cool air into the place overnight. That needs to be turned off around dawn of it starts forcing warm air in rather than cold.

    Unfortunately evaporative cooling doesn’t seem to work well where I live – I assume humidity is too high. The cooler I bought gives a barely perceptible reduction in temperature. However, the other methods have been effective enough that it hasn’t been a problem.

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