Only one of the apartments I have ever lived in has had built in air conditioning. Most summers I spent sweltering in my upstairs apartment with a fan, or at best a cheap window air conditioning unit. Keeping cool in an apartment in the summer is a challenge, especially if you live on the upper floors. All that heat rising in the summer to make your floor sweltering. However, you can keep your apartment cool, even if you live on the upper floors. Here’s what I do to minimize my air conditioner use, keep my summer cooling bills low, and keep cool without air conditioning.
Step 1: Close the Windows
I know, I want the fresh air inside as much as anyone. But to keep cool in the summer I follow one simple rule: If it’s cooler inside than outside keep the windows closed. This means I only open windows in the evening, sometimes the late evening. They stay open all night to help cool down the apartment, then when I get up in the morning or before it starts getting hot, I make the rounds and close them. Keeping out the hot air (even if it’s a breeze) helps keep things cool inside, which helps you keep cool without air conditioning.
Step 2: Draw the Blinds
Closing the blinds will help keep the sun, and the heat it produces out. In the summer my blinds are almost always closed as my apartment has lots of windows and gets sun all day long. This makes for lots of time to sit baking in the sun and heating things up. So make sure the blinds are closed on whatever side of your apartment is getting sun.
Step 3: Fans
If you are lucky and have ceiling fans, there is a good trick you can use to keep the air flowing and help keep things cool. In the summer, set your fan to go in the counterclockwise direction. This will help keep the air moving down to give you a nice breeze. Since I don’t have a ceiling fan in this apartment, I make ample use of my tabletop and floor fans. At night, there is a tall floor fan giving cool breezes, pointed at the bed. During the day I usually have my small desktop fan pointed directly on me.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the windows to support one very good use of fans, but if you are lucky you just might. If you can, put a fan in your window (or buy the ones specifically made for this) and have it point inside, so that it is sucking cooler air from outside and blowing it into your apartment. This is best done at night, as you really don’t want to suck any more hot air into your apartment.
Protip: Remember, fans cool people, not rooms. To conserve your power, turn off your fan when you leave the room.
Step 4: Unplug Electronics
Did you know many electronics are still drawing power even if they are off? To lower the energy bill, most of my electronics are not plugged in all the time. The only things that are plugged in all the time are the fridge, router, dryer, and modem. Everything else is unplugged until it’s needed or plugged into a surge protector which is switched off. This not only saves you money but also helps keep your home a little cooler. Electronics all generate heat, and in the summer, that’s the last thing you want. So turning off electronics that aren’t in use will help diminish the heat that is produced inside your apartment. It may not be much, but every bit counts when you are trying to keep cool without air conditioning.
Step 5: Start Early
The longer you can keep your apartment from turning into a sweat box the better. Every summer I’ve been able to go a little longer before the apartment becomes unbearable. This spring I started early. Even on nice warm days, I still closed my windows and blinds to keep out the heat. I knew once the height of summer hit it would be impossible to cool down the apartment without AC (seriously, it was 90 degrees F in my apartment last summer, I’m not even kidding.)
Step 6: Minimize Cooking
When it gets unbearably hot in the summer, I turn to quick and easy dinners that don’t need much or any cooking. Chicken Cesar salads are a bit hit, all I need to do is cook some chicken, which keeps my kitchen from turning into a sauna. Cook outside if you can, on a grill to keep your kitchen cool, and expand your recipe selection to include dishes with less cooking. If your apartment has a kitchen that can be closed off, do that as well. My kitchen has doors I can close. This keeps the built-up heat from cooking in the kitchen – not the rest of the apartment.
You can stay cooler in your apartment this summer. By closing your windows and blinds to the heat of the day and using fans wisely, you won’t need to rely upon your air conditioner or rack up expensive cooling bills.