Let’s talk about the cheapest ways to cool your room, your house, and yourself. In this article, we’re going to cover a ton of different home-cooling methods, packed with advice.
You will find something suitable for your situation. Whether you need to cool your room without an AC, without electricity, or without windows. Everything is in here!
I also included a few feel-cold methods that do not need any devices, which you can use anytime, anywhere.
Here are the 20 cheapest ways to cool a room and house:
Floor fans are the most cost-effective way to move lots of hot air around your house. They come in different sizes and use anywhere from 40W to 160W of power.
Regular air conditioners, in contrast, use anywhere from 800W up to 2000W of power depending on room size and temperatures. So, you see there’s a huge savings potential with floor fans.
The best thing about floor fans is that you can use them for multiple purposes:
- To cool you down: Point the floor fan toward you. It will blow hot layers of air away from your skin, which makes you feel colder. This reduces the perceived temperature of your room.
- To vent your room: Place the floor fan in a window and make it blow fresh outdoor air inside. Usually, you should do that in the morning or at night.
Floor fans are oftentimes significantly stronger than standing or pedestal fans. They do stand on solid ground and can use their full power to blow cold air around your home.
Strong floor fans are oftentimes sold as wind machines online.
I love floor fans! And that’s why they are my number one on this list.
I personally recommend this 120W Lasko floor fan (click here to view it on amazon). It’s powerful!
Pedestal fans have their own special role. While floor fans are best for wiping all the hot air out of your room or house quickly, pedestal fans are best for running them continuously.
Not only do they use less power than floor fans but are, therefore, cheaper. They also come with features such as automatic rotation.
That’s practical when you want to have a long and continuous airflow to reduce the perceived temperature in your home. A slight breeze always makes you feel cooler.
Additionally, standing pedestal fans blow air from a base height, which you can oftentimes set.
This makes pedestal fans ideal for cooling down people gathering in your home. The rotating pedestal fan will distribute the breeze evenly in your room and help everybody cool down.
Pedestal fans are usually much weaker than floor fans.
That’s why I’d still recommend getting a strong floor fan if you have to decide between one of both. They are more versatile and move a lot of air around. Personally, a floor fan is enough for me!
Portable air conditioners are great. But how are they on this list? With over $25 monthly electricity cost, using a portable AC is not the cheapest method on this list.
However, I still list them in this list, because paying the running cost of a portable air conditioner is, in my opinion, very worth it.
First off, a portable AC is a lot cheaper to install than a built-in wall AC unit. They barely have any maintenance. If you take care of your portable AC, they are basically, maintenance-free.
With a central AC you can expect to pay around $4,000 for the installation. A portable AC costs nothing to install.
Portable ACs are, of course, not as efficient as regular central ACs.They are not as strong and they have a few technical drawbacks. But you can make your portable AC more efficient by insulating its exhaust hose properly.
But if you just want to cool your room for 1 to 3 months of high summer heat and you don’t need AC all year round, then I highly recommend getting a portable AC.
Once you have one, you never need to worry about cooling your room anymore. And when you don’t need it anymore, for autumn, winter, and spring, you can just place it in a storage room.
Window ACs are basically the same thing as portable ACs. Only the installation differs slightly.
In contrast to fixed AC units, you can install and remove window AC units whenever you like. A window AC does not need any drilling through walls or the ducting that a regular AC would need.
The big advantage of window ACs is that they are more efficient than portable ACs. They are better-insulated and because of their placement in the window, they are able to move more air without expending as much energy. Portable ACs have to blow exhaust air through long hoses, which costs energy. Additionally, if the hose is not well-insulated, some of the heat will reenter the room.
So, if you have a window that allows for a window AC, then definitely get one! For the same running cost as a portable AC, you get more cooling capacity!
Occasionally wet your skin. The evaporation extracts the heat from your body.
All you need is a towel and a bowl of water. Whenever you feel hot, wet your arms, your forehead and your legs.
Most heat leaves the body through the head. So, if you are in a social situation and you can’t cover yourself in water, just slightly wetting your forehead already makes a big difference.
This one is by far the cheapest method to cool down your room. There is no cost involved other than the cost of water which is below $0.01.
The best aspect about this method, aside from it costing almost nothing, is that it can easily be combined with other methods.
You can boost your cooling, for example, even more by combining the ‘wet your skin’-method with a fan or AC.
Venting at night
One obvious thing to do is to vent your entire living space at night.
When the outdoor air is cool, open your windows as much as possible. Ideally, you additionally place a strong fan in your window. I use my floor fan for this.
The fan then accelerates the distribution of cool air.
If you really want to cool down your house at night, then you should leave open the windows all night. Of course, in that case, you don’t have to run a fan additionally. Over 8 hours at night, the cold has enough time to distribute itself.
I found that whenever I open multiple windows in different rooms, most of them close themselves at night time due to air drafts. This, of course, depends on the window type. Where I live, we have rotating windows, instead of shifting ones.
For this, I use climbing slings to keep the windows open. But you can use any other kind of rope. Attach one end to the window and the other to furniture or a door knob.
Keep attic windows open to cool the entire house
Very important, and often overlooked is keeping the attic windows open. This reduces the overall heat insulation of your home.
The reason is that heat always rises to the top. A roof insulates your home. In wintertime, this is a good thing, because the heat inside your home passes through the roof only slowly.
However, in the summertime, you should avoid trapping heat in your home.
Keep your attic windows open while it’s hot. The opening in your roof significantly reduces the overall insulation of your home and exhausts a lot of heat.
Of course, remember to close your attic windows when it rains!
Shut off unused electronics
All energy that electronic appliances consume ends up as heat. This is a consequence of the laws of thermodynamics.
For example, desktop computers usually draw 500W of power.
These 500W of power eventually end up as heating power in your home.
Running a desktop computer is therefore equal to running a 500W heater in your room continuously.
By the way: That’s why gaming computers need so much cooling: They do a lot more computational processing. Everything a computer does end up as heat. The more it computes, the more heat is released.
This does not only apply to digital devices such as smartphones, desktop computers, and gaming consoles! Anything that is plugged into your home’s electric circuit is actually a heat source. Lightbulbs, fridges, washing machines, everything.
Get rid of this heating effect by shutting all unused electronic appliances off.
Move large appliances to other rooms to cool your home
Of course, you can’t shut all appliances off. Some things, such as fridges, have to run.
So, how do you get rid of the 100W – 250W of heat energy produced by fridges?
You can move these big, essential appliances into another room. In the high-summer heat, you can move your fridge to an unused room to lower the heat exposure in your used rooms.
Oftentimes, this is not feasible. Especially if you have a built-in fridge. But if you have a small living room fridge for drinks, then consider moving it.
Drink lots of water
Here’s another cheap way to stay cool: Drink a lot of water. In the summertime, you need to drink 2-4 liters of water as an active adult.
Drinking plenty of water is not only refreshing but it actually helps your body handle the heat.
Someone who drinks enough water feels less hot than someone who does not drink enough.
“It is important to replenish the water we lose when we sweat to prevent dehydration […] One of the best ways to accomplish this is to drink water throughout the day and before you actually feel thirsty.”huffpost.com
Ice cube cooler fans
There are fans you can fill with ice. The fan then distributes the cold air from the ice into the room.
During this process, the ice evaporates. And that’s why these products are called “Evaporative Cooler Fans”.
They are relatively cheap to get, starting from $20-$30. However, they have a few drawbacks.
Evaporative cooler fans are not efficient at all. The cold that they produce first has to be produced by your freezer through freezing water into ice cubes, which consumes electricity.
Then, extracting the cold from ice is a very inefficient process. First, the ice cubes have only little cooling capacity: You can immediately tell that by holding an ice cube under running water. It melts within seconds.
And second, evaporative cooling will add moisture to your room which can accelerate mold growth if you don’t vent.
Third, these ice cube cooler fans have just a single application. You can only use them in the high summer heat. Otherwise, they make no sense. In contrast, a fan will serve you all year round. You can use it to vent your room at any time of the year.
I prefer multi-use products and would stick to the proven floor fans, pedestal fans, and ACs.
Here’s another completely free method!
Where I live, there’s the saying “Hot feet, hot body, cold feet, cold body”. If your feet are cold, your whole body feels cold.
This is true regardless of the time of the year. Mostly, you notice it in winter when you warm your feet. Then, instantly, your whole body feels warm.
In the summer heat, you can make use of this! Just walk barefoot and you will feel much colder overall.
And it’s healthy and strengthens your feet!
Get a haircut
Most heat is lost through your head. This piece of “motherly wisdom” is only true in wintertime, when our heads are unclothed and we should rather wear a hat.
In the summertime, heat is mostly lost through the head, arms, and legs, where we tend to wear shorter clothes.
Still, just by getting a haircut, the amount of heat that leaves your body can be increased.
Your hair traps air pockets. These act as heat insulators. When you cut your hair, you reduce the amount of insulation on your head and you feel significantly colder.
Remove large and heavy objects from your room
Air stores only very little heat. Most of the heat energy in a room is actually stored in the walls and objects inside a room.
We can’t really get rid of walls. But just by moving a few heavy objects out of your room, you can reduce the heat capacity of your room.
Usually, the most impactful items are large metal or stone objects. Also, small (decoration) statues or vases, dishes, and flower pots store a lot of heat. Plastic or wood usually is bad at storing heat.
The absence of these heat stores ensures that after you close your window after venting or turning off your AC or fan, no heat is radiated back into the room through the heat-storing objects.
Exchange light bulbs
Old light bulbs are inefficient. Instead of light, a huge part of their consumed energy is converted to heat.
“Traditional or incandescent light bulbs were invented more than 100 years ago and are extremely inefficient. Only about 5% of the electricity they use converts into visible light.” energysavingstrust.org.uk
The other 95% are converted to heat. A medium-sized traditional lightbulb consumes 40W-60W of power. If you have 10 lightbulbs turned on in your home at the same time, that’s almost the equivalent of a space heater running medium 380W-570W heating settings.
Exchange your old light bulbs for newer LED bulbs and you can drastically reduce both the energy usage and cool your room at the same time.
Close shades and window shutters
Use shades to block sunlight from entering your room.
There are two different kinds of light-blockers:
- Shutters located outside the window
- Shutters located inside your room
Outside shutters are a lot better than indoor window shades.
The reason is that shutters absorb sunlight and then convert it to heat energy.
If your shutters are inside your room, they release heat into your room. If your shutters are outside, they release heat outdoors.
Use outdoor shutters. Use indoor shades only if they can reflect the light outdoors (bright colored shades, or even white).
Keep upper floor doors and windows open at night to keep your house cool
Similar to keeping your attic windows open, keep your upper floor doors and windows open at night. This improves the overall air circulation and reduces insulation.
By opening your upper floor windows at night, the cold air from the night will sink through the whole house.
Cold air always sinks. This allows for cold air distribution without using any noisy appliances such as fans.
Sleep in lower floor rooms
Since heat rises upwards, rooms under the roof are disproportionally hot.
Aside from venting your roof’s windows to reduce insulation, another thing you can do is to just get as far away from below the roof as possible.
Move to a lower floor to stay cool in your home during the high heat. Of course, this is only possible for homeowners or house renters.
Don’t use oven and stove for cooking
Stoves and ovens heat up your room a lot. Using an oven or stove produces 3,000W of heat. That is as much as running two space heaters simultaneously!
One idea for the summer is to cook outdoors, in your garden, or on your balcony on a propane stove or grill.
If you have no opportunity to cook outside, then use the microwave as much as you can.
Or avoid warm dishes in general.
Install an AC
This list is all about the cheapest ways to cool a home. And here’s one method to surprise you: Install an AC.
The initial cost of AC installation is very high. However, in the long run, having an AC will save you lots of frustration. It will improve your overall quality of life.
Installing an AC improves your mental health and clarity in the summer. It keeps you well tempered.
So, while it costs a lot to set up an air conditioning unit in your home and it also increases your monthly electric bill, having an AC is a worth it investment.
And that’s why I still include it in this list!