Home & Garden

5 ways to cool your house without central A/C

Because summer heat is no joke

Woman sitting on couch turning on air conditioner using a remote Credit: Getty Images / Fizkes

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Have you heard? 2020 is on track to be the hottest year to date. And, as we enter the steamiest season, it likely won’t be cool anytime soon, so expect that heat to creep into your home.

Even if you think you can handle hot weather, you may relish the arctic breeze that air conditioning provides. Especially if you don’t want sweating indoors to become your new norm.

Central air conditioning may be your ideal route to a cool house, but there are several other effective options to explore. It’s worth mentioning that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, central A/C is the third-largest end use of energy in the home, making it hard on your electric bill and far less energy-efficient than cooling methods like portable air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, sun-blocking shades, and window tints.

If you’re in the market for air conditioning alternatives, here are a few tips for keeping a cool house during a heat wave.

1. Bring down the dew point with a dehumidifier

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Humid air can make a home feel much warmer than it actually is.

Dehumidifiers remove water vapor from the air, leaving you with drier air that naturally feels cooler than humid air.

If heat and humidity are common in your region (New Orleans, Houston, Orlando), a dehumidifier is essential for creating a cooler space. There are many other benefits you’ll get with dehumidifiers, too, like the elimination of common allergens.

2. Turn your home into a cool house with fans

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A powerful fan can make a world of a difference during a hot summer.

Debating between buying a new air conditioning unit or a fan? A solid fan can keep your home cool, while also being significantly more energy-efficient than air conditioners.

One tried-and-true way to help hot air escape the home is by creating a cross-breeze from two open windows on opposite sides of a room. This airflow pushes cold air in and warm air out.

You can also achieve a cross-breeze effectively by opening up the chimney or a window on your roof. Known as the “chimney” or “stack” effect, this allows hot air to naturally rise out of the home, while cool air pushes through from your floor-level windows.

One pro tip to maximize the effectiveness of a ceiling fan is to make sure you set it to spin counterclockwise—this sucks hotter air up higher and pushes cooler air back down, creating a wind-chill breeze.

For comfortable airflow within your work-from-home space, a desk fan creates a cool burst of local air when you don’t want to run an entire system.

3. Use blinds and window tints to block out sunlight

Credit: Getty Images / Tunatura

Adjusting your blinds throughout the day will properly block sunlight from heating the house up.

Over one third of all sunlight that enters the home is transferred into heat, according to the U.S. Department Of Energy. Fortunately, window blinds, shades, and window tints reduce this.

To block the maximum amount of sunlight, you can adjust blinds to achieve total shade depending on the time of day. Take it a step further with smart blinds, which automatically adjust their angle and can even open and close on a set schedule. This way, you can beat the heat without any work on your end.

A discreet window tint defends you from the sun by absorbing light shining in. Here at Reviewed, we tested window tints in our lab, and we were surprised by how much direct sunlight they block out. As a plus, the tinted film works as another layer of insulation come wintertime.

4. Invest in a portable air conditioning unit

Credit: Reviewed / David Kender

Look for a portable A/C that cools and dehumidifiers, especially if you live in a humid climate.

A next-best alternative to central air conditioning is a portable air conditioning unit. By nature of their smaller size, they may seem less powerful, but they can be just as effective in cooling down a room.

If you need to cool down a large space, like your living room, the De’Longhi PACEX390LVYN Pinguino is a top option. At a cooling capacity of 14,000 BTU, we found the Pinguino easy to set up and powerful in its cooling. It doesn’t hurt that it looks classier than the average unit, too.

Something to consider is that several portable air conditioning units, such as the De’Longhi Pinguino, also function as dehumidifiers, so you may want to invest in a multi-functional unit if you live in a muggy climate.

5. Cordon off your cool with a window A/C

Credit: Reviewed / Kevin Oliver

If your landlord allows for a window unit, it can help to save space.

A portable A/C is a solid alternative to central A/C, yes, but a window unit air conditioner takes up a lot less space—which definitely matters if you’re living in a tiny apartment or a home with small rooms.

Window units tend to be more affordable than portable units—once you get it in the window for the season, it usually stays there. In this way, you cannot move your window unit from room to room with ease like you can with a portable A/C unit. It’s a factor to consider if you aspire to fill multiple rooms with cool air.

Our favorite window air conditioning unit is the GE Profile Series PHC08LY—it’s quiet, elegant, and eliminates both heat and humidity. It can even be controlled via voice with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

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