Tips for staying cool with no A/C

I live in a top floor apartment, with all windows facing south - it gets very hot in here and we’re having a heat spell right now so I’m trying different things to keep my apartment cool.

-Keeping curtains closed obviously and I draped sheets over the curtain rod for extra shade.

-Filled the tub with cold water and added pop bottles with frozen water in them, then I’ve placed a fan on the floor beside the tub to blow the cool air around.

-Placed a block of ice in front of the fan that’s on my computer desk so it blows cool air on me.

-Spritz myself down with cold water occasionally

-The budgies (4) just had a cool shower
Any other tips or tricks that work for you?

All this ice that you’re using (either in the tub (good idea BTW) or the one by your computer), you really should be buying. Your fridge is heating your apartment as much as the ice is cooling it so it’s a wash. Actually, it’s heating it a bit more since it takes costs energy to run the fridge.
If you can keep the heat the fridge pumps out contained to the kitchen (a curtain across the door maybe), or stay in the area that that you’re making cold, you might come out ahead though…from a comfort POV.

Good idea about the ice in front of the fan. Does that really help? I do put 2 liter bottles of ice in my guinea pig’s cage but never thought to put them in front of the fan.

On really hot days one thing I do is put my head over the shower and get my hair wet. Every time it starts to dry I do it again. Those eye masks with gel in them that you can keep in the fridge are also nice.

a thick t shirt, get it wet and then wring it mostly dry but not super dry. usually lasts an hour or more and the constant evaporation is fantastic at helping you stay cool

I only make the ice at night, once it’s cooled outside and I have all the doors and windows open. But I’m glad you mentioned that because I’ll make sure not to do it during the day when I’m trying to keep it cool in here.

The ice in front of the fan really does work. Also while you’re sitting at the computer with the block of ice in front of you, you can put your hand on it and then put your cool hand on your face/back of neck…

A Guatemalan trick is to put two wet rags in the freezer. Some people like just wet paper towels, but I’ve used wet washcloths. When they’re frozen, you alternate taking them out of the freezer to lay on the top of your head and wear around.

This works great if you have to actually DO something in all that heat. I once managed to mow a huge lawn in Boise, Idaho with a hand mower—essentially, I was mowing a desert—this way. You won’t believe the power of this idea. Put frozen paper towels on your kids’ heads and tell them to go play a bit. They’ll stop plastering their hot little bodies on yours while they whine.

Take those curtains into the shower and get them wet, then wring out and rehang!

And put your feet in that bucket of water with ice!

The fan should be blowing right on you, that’s how I like it, anyway.

I close my house up tight in the day, and open it wide at night, though these humid and still nights there really isn’t a lot of cooler air to access, even at night!

I don’t know your location, health, or financial situation, but have you considered staying cool WITH air conditioning? They make pretty inexpensive “portable” air conditioners now, and even more inexpensive but somewhat less effective evaporative cooling units. Both work pretty well to keep a single small room cool, and with the climate changing you can be pretty sure you’ll eventually need to use it again.

If it’s too hot for me to sleep at night I spray a little water on my sheets then put them in the freezer for a few hours. That makes them icy cold, but I’m not getting soaking wet.

When I come inside from riding my bike I take a cold shower. Otherwise I’m totally fine with just a window fan and a table fan.

My father worked for many years on the highway maintenance crew. Keeping clean and cool at the work site in the middle of a Kansas summer can be challenging at best. One trick he taught me was to put a couple of wash towels in a wide mouth thermos along with a 1-3 ratio of rubbing alcohol and water and then put that in the freezer over night to chill down. He would take that chilled thermos to work and use those towels to clean his face and neck. The alcohol would keep it from freezing and add to the cooling effect.

Since you’re at home you can skip the thermos bottle and just keep a sealed container of water/alcohol and clean towels in your freezer. Run one over your face once in a while or wear one on your head as tapu suggested.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have a/c. My folks installed a big window fan in the dining room and set it to blow out at night. All the windows on the first floor were kept closed and the bedroom windows were opened about 3-4" so the cool night air was drawn in. On really hot nights, I’d take a wet washcloth to bed with me, and I’d wipe myself all over - it magnified the cooling effect of the air being drawn in.

We have a/c in this house, but we also have ceiling fans and a couple of tower fans. They make a huge difference.

Don’t forget the ‘wet towel on the back of the fan’ trick.

Put aluminum foil on windows to reflect the infrared heat from the sun. Right now the sunshine is warming your curtains which warms your room. If you block out the windows with foil, you won’t need the curtains and you’ll be able to open the windows for the breeze.

Put a fan in the open window to blow air. It may actually be a better idea to blow the air out of the window instead of blowing it into your room. Is there a side of your house that’s cooler? If so, put the fan in the window of the hot room so it blows out and open a window in a room where it’s cooler. This way you’re pulling the cool air into the hotter room.

If you want to really block out the heat, cover the entire south wall with aluminum foil (use it like wallpaper). This will keep most of the radiant heat from your wall from entering your room.

It always pissed me off how poorly a standing tub of water transfers the heat out of the air. 20 gallons of 65 degree water with all that specific heat capacity should really be able to suck a lot of heat out of 95 degree thin wimpy air. But it just doesn’t work, the water stays cold and the room stays hot. It’s like the laws of thermodynamics got butthurt that you figured out such a simple smart way to cool off and just said “No, you’ll be hot because I said so.”

I always wanted to build a fan and radiator system that screws to the showerhead just to kick thermodynamics right back in the balls.

I wonder why that is? The water in the tub is absolutely freezing, with blocks of ice floating in it yet it’s so hot in here.

Convenient 5 gallon bucket. Fill 2/3 of the way with cold water from the bath. Remove shoes and socks, wear shorts. Sit with feet and lower legs in the cold water. If it helps, visualise that coolness circulating in your body and the heat circulating back.

Did this when my AC wasn’t exactly working well last weekend and damn, if I didn’t enjoy it when I had to get up and go do something and my lower legs were feeling downright chilly.

Get yourself a Big Ass Fan.

When I didn’t have A/C in the past, frequent cold showers were my go-to heat-busting activity. Turn the water on cool. When your body acclimates (and in hot weather, it won’t take long), turn it progressively cooler. It’s very refreshing. I always put box fans in my two windows (one facing out and one facing in), to get a good cross-breeze going on.

Can you scrimp and save (or take out a loan) for a cheap window a/c unit? You can find small ones that cool a bedroom very well, in the $100-$125 range brand new (or you can hit up Craigslist and pay $40-50 for a used one). I wouldn’t wish sleeping in humid 90-degree weather on my worst enemy, and it’s only the beginning of July. This heat might get worse before it gets better.

This. You need to block the light/heat that’s coming into the house. One year, when we didn’t have AC, we used insulative sheeting (with a shiny metallic side) that we cut to fit the windows. (It’s easily cut with a pocket or utility knife and is resuable year after year.) This kept the sun (and heat) from coming into the house, but was quickly and easily removable for times when the temps dropped and we wanted to open windows (like at night).

Even now, although I have central AC where I live (and use it during the day), I put a fan in the upstairs window and set it to pull the air through the house and out. Once the house cools down, I turn off the fan and shut the windows and draw the shades & curtains. It’s not uncommon for the house to be 20 degrees or more cooler in the afternoon without turning on the AC, using this method.

Currently, I use a smoked vinyl on the west facing windows (similar to this–I got it at Hancock Fabrics). It’s very easy to cut and put onto the windows, but also very easy to take off the windows. It blocks out quite a bit of light/heat, especially in combination with the shades & curtains. Once the seasons change and the weather cools, I simply remove the vinyl and store it until next year.

Finally, there is this window film. It actually blocks out a LOT of heat, but it also blocks a lot of light and is not removable. (Or, once it’s removed, it’s not reusable.) It’s also more expensive than other methods, plus if you rent, the landlord may not be real happy with this being installed on the windows.

I would–and do–use these methods in combination with AC. There’s no sense in having your AC on (window unit or central) if there’s sun beaming into the room. And although it can be expensive to run an AC until, this may be able to keep the house/apartment cool enough that you can use AC sparingly to keep a room livable.

Oh, and for an affordable window unit, check Craigslist.

I could buy an A/C unit but I’m a bit leery of having one with the budgies. I would be concerned that I wouldn’t have it set up right and some fumes might leak in.

Fortunately (?) it’s 90 degrees but dry so it’s not quite as horrible as it is with humidity.