How to Cool an Apartment Without Air Conditioning

Updated on April 6, 2016
Unless you live here, you probably struggle to stay cool in your apartment.
Unless you live here, you probably struggle to stay cool in your apartment. | Source


Unless you live in a ground floor apartment or have built-in air conditioning, summer means you're stuck with a warm apartment all season long. As an apartment-dweller, you have few options for effective cooling. It's probably not a wild guess to assume that your lease agreement doesn't allow you to tear through the walls to install an air conditioning system. Instead, you'll just have to use a bit of creativity to cool your apartment off the old-fashioned way with lots of fans and open windows.

Blinds and Curtains

If you have blind on your windows, don't forget to shut them when you leave for the day. Keeping the direct sun out of your apartment is a great way to reduce the incoming heat. If your lease allows you to make minor modifications to your walls, consider installing some heavy, dark curtains. It's fairly easy to install a curtain rod directly on the wall with the assistance of a friend.

Nature's Air Conditioning

Using nature as an air conditioner is the best thing to rely on, assuming the temperature outdoor temperature drops below the indoor temperature. When it's cool outside in the evening and early morning hours, leave your windows open and place a big fan directly in front of the screen. If you have a windowsill, box fans work really well for this. If possible, open multiple windows in your apartment to get a nice draft going. Just don't forget to close your windows when it starts to warm up again outside.

If your outdoor temperature isn't dropping much, try opening the windows and turning the fans to face out. This way, you'll at least get rid of some of the stagnant hot air in your apartment.

If you're concerned about security, it's very easy to block your window from opening enough for a person to fit through. Simply block the window track with an object, such as a wooden rod or hanger. You can leave your windows open all night and feel safe. You can also buy window stoppers that work just as well and are easy to install. It's especially important to take this extra step if you live on the ground floor of your apartment complex.

These fans look nice, but you'll get better results with an electric fan.
These fans look nice, but you'll get better results with an electric fan. | Source

Fans and More Fans

Fans are your best friends during the summer. Even though fans don't actually reduce the temperature (in fact, fans raise the temperature slightly), they do a good job of circulating the air, making you feel cooler and refreshed. Ceiling fans are really good at circulation, but unless you have permission to install one in your apartment, you're out of luck. Fortunately, your local home goods store will have any number of quality and affordable fans in a variety of different models.

Remember to outfit your apartment before a major heatwave arrives; you'll have a hard time finding a fan to buy when everyone else suddenly realizes how hot the weather is.

Close Your Fridge and Freezer

Keep your fridge and freezer closed tightly, and open them only when you really need to. Avoid grazing or browsing the contents of your fridge for long periods during hot days. If you make your fridge and freezer work harder than normal by opening them frequently, the air temperature around the appliances will increase. Think about what you want to pull out before you open it; you can even make a list of the contents in your fridge and freezer to reduce unnecessary openings.

Lights Out!

Light bulbs, especially incandescent bulbs, can generate a surprising amount of heat. If you don't need the light, turn it off. Compact fluorescents and LED bulbs produce less heat than incandescent bulbs, so consider switching your old lights for these more modern options.

Your kitty will have to say goodbye to frozen pizza.
Your kitty will have to say goodbye to frozen pizza. | Source

Say Goodbye to Frozen Pizza, for Now

Your cooking appliances, including your oven, slow cooker and bread maker, are not your friends during the summer. For some meals, you can use a toaster oven instead of a real oven; toaster ovens will generate far less heat than traditional ovens. Check the recipe or package before you buy to see the recommended heating option. You can also rely on your stove and microwave during the summer. On really hot days, save yourself the trouble and just eat out in a cool restaurant or make yourself a delicious and cold sandwich.

Minimize Other Appliance Use

The dishwasher generates a lot of heat when it cleans your dishes, especially during the drying phase. Try to run the dishwasher only during the evening or morning. If you really need a dish, wash and dry it by hand. If you have a clothes washer and dryer in your apartment, avoid using them during the day, especially the dryer. Consider hanging your wet clothes up in the bathroom to air dry your clothes.

Turn Off and Unplug Electronics

Televisions and computers produce a great deal of heat, so it's best to leave them off whenever possible. For a refreshing summer activity, turn off your electronics and read a book about Antarctica while sipping on some lemonade. Also, when your electronics are off, unplug them. Even if you turn your electronics off, they can still generate heat when plugged in. If you need to use your computer, remember that a computer will have a harder time staying cool in hot temperatures. You can use a fan to cool off both you and your computer.

About Air Conditioning Options for Apartment Dwellers

Though window air conditioning units are not nearly as refreshing as a real air conditioning system, there are a number of different options available. If you have windows that open from top to bottom, you have quite a few affordable air conditioning unit options. The most common window units fit between the bottom frame and window.

For apartment dwellers with side-to-side windows, your options are usually limited to portable units. Most portable units are not as effective as window units, and unfortunately they also cost a lot more. Unlike window units, portable units sit on your floor. These air conditioners use an exhaust hose vent the hot air from your apartment to the outside. In addition, the units pull water from the hot air. For most portable air conditioners, you will need to periodically dump this water from a tray or bucket included with the unit. Portable air conditioners do offer one great benefit: you can move the unit from room to room as you need. After using it in the living room during the day, you can bring the unit into your bedroom at night.


Maintaining a bearable temperature in your apartment during the summer is a challenge. If you're smart with your windows and fans, you can improve your comfort level. However, if you just can't get your apartment cool enough to bear, consider seeking pleasant temperatures elsewhere, such as at a mall or in a movie theater.

Questions & Answers


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      • Kelsey Farrell profile image

        Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

        This post is great for those of us without central air and who don't want to break the bank on using a window unit. Voted up!

      • Donna Baudlery profile image

        Donna Baudlery 3 years ago from US/Canada

        this is a cool post on tips to ease the warm season.. starting to warm up indeed! and i do have a portable air conditioner tucked during the winter.. it seems it needed some brush-up!