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3 Ways to Cool Your Home without Using Electricity or Spending Money

Updated on June 16, 2014
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren is a one-person fixer of "TLC Needed" houses. She explains methods simply to homeowners who are not in the construction trades.

Heat Wave

I do not live in a centrally air conditioned place. I do not want to, either, unless it has separate zones with independent controls. However, this summer of heat wave and drought is pushing me to my limits. In July, my area had 20 days of 90 degrees F or higher. This is WAY above our normal temperature for July. As if that weren’t enough, we had a three day streak over 100 degrees F with an all-time record breaking 106 degrees F on July 22. It was enough to make me lose concern over any conventional solutions. I need to get cool without spending any money.

When you have finally GONE BALLISTIC over the unbearable, oppressive heat in your apartment or house and DON’T CARE what anyone thinks about your measures to stay cool during this recession summer, then these are the tips for you.

Hang Towels

Yes. You probably (we hope!) own some. The home cooling experts recommend blocking the sunlight, which can also be called “heatlight,” from entering. People with money can buy black-out types of heat reflecting curtains or heat reflecting film to apply directly to the window glass. We ingenious people are going to accomplish the same heat blocking by hanging towels over the already closed curtains. It is an extra layer of blockage and costs nada. Additionally, the placement is 100% adjustable, so if you do have a window air conditioner, it is very simple to place the towel in a way that does not impede its function. In contrast, another set of curtains would probably need to be rigged or pinned and take aggravating time to position, in addition to the expense.

If you do not have enough towels, other big pieces of fabric, such as sheets or tablecloths would be better than nothing. Or, if you are really without enough towels, cardboard from flattened boxes can be used albeit with the complication of securing with tape or other means.

Towel Blocking Sun's Heat

It does not look pretty inside or out, but I DON'T CARE!
It does not look pretty inside or out, but I DON'T CARE! | Source

Never Open the Windows

This one really hurts. I love a breeze or the even the smell of non-breezing fresh air. However, I will intellectually concede that once a home is cooled, it is easier to maintain the coolness and lowered humidity than to regain it. (This parallels pain management medicine which holds it is easier to keep pain in check than to let it increase and then try to reduce it again.) Thus, any rooms in which you have an air conditioner should be fiercely protected as if they are sanctuaries. Keep the door shut. Keep the windows closed. Put a draft dodger at the floor by the door. Be extreme. The weather certainly is.

Hang Out in the Lowest Area

Heat rises; cool air sinks. We all know that from grade school science. So, if there is any sort of halfway clean live-able space in your lowest level, live there. In the summer, we set up a dining table in the lower level, because we usually – and our guests always – cannot eat meals in the un-air-conditioned common rooms upstairs. It is no big deal. I have slept in lower level family rooms, dined in man caves, and in this year’s heat, I would be happy to live in the garage if that is the coolest place.

Do you remember stories of a great-uncle living in the days before air conditioning who would sit in the basement listening to the baseball game on the radio? He was a smart cookie. the basement was the coolest place in the house.

If you are one the many who are being cheated out of summer because Mother Nature is throwing us into the bake oven, get smart and get cool. Don’t give your hard earned bucks to the power companies. Be sensible and unconventional. Your neighbors may start to think you are the brightest bulb on the block.

Photo and text copyright 2011 Maren Morgan


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Robert V., I also used the space-age emergency blanket in front picture window. Thanks for your comment!

    • profile image

      Robert V. 5 years ago

      I have found fantastic results by putting car window heat reflectors and/or those "space-age emergency blankets" taped onto the windows. You can also use white posterboard from the local art store. When done, you should have only a peephole to see your yard but the heat savings can be 10 degrees or more on an average day!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Danette, basement sleeping is good in my book. It beats tossing and turning and NOT being able to sleep upstairs. Thanks for your comment.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Frugalfamily, thanks for your suggestion for a fireplace. Anything to help is good!

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      I grew up in Michigan (in the 50s-60s) and we used to sleep in the basement or outside if it was really hot.All good tips here.

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      I love that you shared a poor man's method to block the sun. I'm ready for cooler weather so I can open my doors and windows again too. One other thing to add is to block your fireplace. It is amazing how much energy can be wasted in this area!