When it comes to ways to stay cool in hot weather, I’ve had about a decade’s worth of experience living in a hot apartment with shoddy air conditioning and greater than 100°F weather days, forcing me to learn how to effectively stay cool. For staying cool in hot weather, there are many obvious and common sense solutions, and also some not-so-obvious tips and tricks. I will include both in this article.
Fans are one of the most popular solutions utilized worldwide when figuring out how to cool down and how to make a room cooler. Fans work in two ways: they push colder air into your proximity, or they can help you cool off and stay cool by evaporating water on your skin.
The trick to evaporative cooling is to draw heat away from your body through the dissipation of and the movement of water from your skin. If you have ever exited the pool and a slight breeze made you shiver, you’ve experienced evaporative cooling. To maximize this, try to create air circulation in your dwelling. This is one of the main ways how to cool down a room since this will keep a light breeze freely moving throughout your room and help evaporate any of your sweat and prevent cooler air from settling to the floor. I usually have multiple fans creating a kind of ‘vortex’ or cyclone in enclosed spaces to maximize the air movement.
For the movement of colder air to your proximity, some considerations for the placement of your fans will be to put them low or (obviously) next to a source of colder air and face them towards you. It tends to be cooler on the ground, so putting the fans lower and aiming them upward may sometimes help by making the fan pull the colder air from the ground and pushing it onto you.
No matter where you live, a spray bottle with an electric fan attached will help perform evaporative cooling. These will help by doing the working of sweating and then evaporation for you. If you live in a drier environment or area, then you can also consider getting a swamp cooler. A swamp cooler is basically a larger version of the spray bottle and can significantly help you and your room stay cool if you live in a place that isn’t very humid. Swamp coolers are sometimes so effective that they can make any home AC irrelevant. If you’d like some low budget solutions, try checking out this video of DIY swamp coolers.
Dress sparsely whenever possible. If you wear anything, make it lighter colored, as this reflects light and heat away from you. If you have to dress up, try to use breathable fabrics. For example, wearing something made out of cotton or silk will help ensure your sweat evaporates instead of pools under your clothing.
Sleep in as light of a bedding as possible. For example, most summer nights I only sleep with a sheet covering me and I tend to keep the back of my neck, my hands and my feet uncovered. I have also had success with comforters that are colored differently on both sides since darker color on one side absorbs heat, I would face the darker side of the comforter towards my body and the lighter side away from me.
You might also want to look into getting a different mattress, pillow and covers to replace them with something more breathable. There are products that advertise themselves as having better temperature management in hot weather, if you’re willing to make the purchase.
When you wake up, you are probably already fighting the heat outside in an effort of keeping your room cool. Where I live, the temperature reaches its peak around 6 PM and its lowest at 4 AM. In order to make a room cooler, I keep a fan pushing air into it until 10-11 AM and then I will turn off the fan and close blinds and windows to keep any heat from entering.
The most effective way of handling midday hot weather is to manage the entrance of light and sunshine. If you have a closed window because of an air conditioner, you will also want to close your curtains. If you have no source of cold air, closing your windows is only a good idea if your curtains are also closed. If your curtains are open, then keeping your window open is needed to prevent your room becoming a hot weather greenhouse. Any method of limiting light entering through windows will have some positive effect on keeping your place cool.
In the evening or when you go to bed, the best way how to cool down a room is to open your windows so colder air can enter. I usually have a fan pushing the colder outside air into my room after 8 PM. If you live in a noisy urban area and you’re worried about the sound, fans do a fairly good job masking any sounds from outside.
Make sure to keep hydrated and drink a lot of water. Sometimes you aren’t sweating because you don’t have enough water, not because you’re actually staying cool. Keep up with electrolyte intake as well, as electrolytes are needed for you to perspire properly.
If you’re doing something active then keep your hands, forearms, feet and neck free whenever possible, as that is where your body gives off most of your heat. Being barefoot inside and wearing light shoes or sandals outside is also a good idea, as your feet can perspire and help cool you down.
When going to bed, I suggest keeping your extremities out of your blankets/coverings for extra cooling. Sometimes, if I am desperately hot, I’ll use an ice pack on the back of my neck and sleep with it there. To do this, keep ice packs in your freezer to place on your pillow during the night. If you want some extra cooling, dampen the towel that’s holding the ice pack. How damp you make it is a matter of preference (I prefer a light sprinkling on either side), but be careful not to give yourself frost bite.
If you don’t have it, air conditioning will definitely help you stay cool. Air conditioning is probably the second most popular method for how to cool down a room. Unfortunately, air conditioning can also be expensive, so instead of putting on a larger home AC, consider getting a smaller and more efficient one for the areas you spend most of your time (e.g. your office) or instead just implementing the other tips in this article.
If you have the home AC on, it would be a good idea to close your windows and curtains as much as is bearable so you can minimize the hot weather coming in, as this will save you electricity costs. If available with your home AC, you can also close off the vents to the rooms you don’t use or need to remain cool. For example, I close the vent to the bathroom since I don’t need it to stay cool in there.
Traditional light bulbs can put out a lot of heat, especially in smaller spaces. Try to get energy saving light bulbs that are either low or controlled wattage, as they will put out less heat.
Appliances of every sort usually put out heat since they need to keep their electronics cool. Minimizing electronic appliance usage can sometimes have a significant impact. Just an old monitor or TV can raise the temperature of small spaces by a couple of degrees. A counter-intuitive and somewhat expensive solution is upgrading your electronics. This includes home PCs and graphics cards or processors. Upgrading technology to their latest and more powerful versions can usually decrease heat output because of their more energy efficient technology.