How To Keep Your House Cool Without Air Conditioning
August 01, 2023 | Kate Cier
How To Keep Your House Cool Without Air Conditioning

We’re about to set the record for the hottest July on Earth - since the record began. The Uncharted team can attest to it. Our office is air-conditioning free, so we get through these warm months by blowing in cool mountain air in the morning and shutting the windows as soon as the heat creeps in. If we are not prompt in opening and closing windows, turning on fans, or plugging in the swamp cooler, we’re sweating over our keyboards by 1pm. 

We’ve put together a few cool air hacks to keep your home (or office) at a reasonable temperature - without an AC unit. 

Open windows on opposite sides of the house to take advantage of natural airflow patterns and create cross-ventilation. This air flow pushes hot air out and lets cooler air in. To enhance the effect, put fans in the windows during the night to pull in more air. 

Shut your shades and close your curtains. Any way you can block direct sunlight from hitting your home will help keep temperatures down. Proper insulations (newer windows) can also keep it cooler by reducing the transfer of heat from the outside to the inside.

Cooling Methods - Employ various cooling techniques to make a more comfortable living space: 

  • DIY Swamp Cooler: Also known as an evaporative cooler, a DIY swamp cooler can be made using a box fan, a large bucket, and some ice or frozen water bottles. Cut holes on the top and sides of the bucket, place the frozen water bottles inside, and position the box fan on top of the bucket facing downwards. As the air blows through the frozen bottles, it will cool down, providing a refreshing breeze.
  • Window Fan Exhaust System: Place a box fan in one window facing outward to expel hot air from the room. In another window nearby, place a second box fan facing inward to draw in cooler air from outside. This creates a natural air exchange that helps to cool down the indoor space.
  • Cooling Curtains: Dampen light, breathable curtains or bed sheets with cold water and hang them in front of open windows or doorways. As the breeze passes through the curtains, it will cool down the incoming air, reducing the indoor temperature.
  • Bowl of Ice in Front of Fan: Place a large bowl or pan filled with ice in front of a fan. As the fan blows air over the ice, it will create a cooling effect, similar to a DIY air conditioner.
  • Cooling Bed Setup: To cool your bed before sleeping, put a few ice packs or frozen water bottles in a shallow container and place it under the bedsheet at the foot of your bed. This can help you stay cool during the night.
  • DIY Cold Towels: Soak small towels in cold water and wring out the excess. Place these damp towels in the freezer for a few minutes until they become chilled. Then, drape them around your neck or on your forehead to cool yourself down.
  • PVC Pipe Air Conditioner: With some PVC pipes, a small fan, and a container for ice or frozen bottles, you can build a simple air conditioner. By routing the airflow through the frozen container, the air gets cooled before reaching you.

A note on swamp coolers: 

We purchased a compact swamp cooler for our office which has made a huge difference. Here’s a link to the unit we have (and highly recommended). However, this system only works well because we live in a dry desert. Swamp coolers intake dry and produce cool air by creating humidity with cool water. If used in a humid space, they might make the air more muggy. Make sure there’s a direct source of dehumidified air entering the back of the cooler at all times.