Keeping Your Apartment Cool Without Air Conditioning

Jul 7
News/Blog Photo

An electric fan sitting on a kitchen counter.

Are you ready to be sweaty? Because the forecast for this summer is going to be a hot one! Toronto is in for an "ice cream melting, thunder-filled summer" according to Farmers' Almanac. 

If you're one of the 68% of Canadians that don't use central air-conditioning to cool their homes, you may be worrying about how to prepare for the upcoming heatwave. Before you rush to the store to purchase an expensive A/C unit that will rack up your electricity bill, try out a couple of these tricks to cool your space, without the aid of air-conditioning.


Strategically Manage Your Windows 

It may seem obvious, but it's worth repeating: the single most effective way to regulate the temperature of your apartment is to keep the sun and warm air from coming in through your windows during peak hours of the day. Try experimenting with opening and closing your windows and curtains throughout the day — keeping them open in the morning to cool your home, shutting them in the afternoon when things heat up, and opening them back up in the evening to let the hot air out. If you're really struggling with a room that overheats from the summer sun, try out thermal curtains (they can come with a hefty price tag, but they're beneficial for saving energy in the wintertime too!).


Facilitate Airflow

Controlling the flow of air throughout your apartment is critical to getting cool air where you absolutely need it — such as in your bedroom at night. Close doors to rooms not in active use to encourage cold air to flow where you need it most and be mindful of where you place electric fans, perhaps setting them up so as to create a cross-breeze.  Give your electric fans a little love after pulling them out from a long winter spent in storage. Wiping down any dust or rust and fixing wobbles or squeaks go a long way in ensuring that they are working as well as possible. Be sure to check that your ceiling fan is reversed, so it is spinning counter-clockwise, as this ensures that cool air is pushed down. For unbearably hot moments, fill a bowl up with ice packs or ice, place it in front of your fan and turn it up to the highest setting, creating a DIY portable air conditioner in a pinch.


Assess Your Bedding

Temperature has a profound effect on your body's circadian rhythm. Most people's body temperature naturally drops while they're asleep; prior to waking, your body will gradually return to its normal level, allowing you to feel awake and refreshed in the morning. Thus, feeling too hot while you're sleeping can be very disruptive to achieving a full night's rest. Swap out heavier comforters and flannel sheets for a light and breathable layer, such as only cotton sheets. Some people even enjoy sleeping atop of bamboo mat layered over their mattress in the summer, as bamboo does not retain heat in the same way a mattress does. If you're willing to invest a bit of money, try out cooling pillow or sheets designed to wick excess moisture from the skin, preventing that gross 'wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat' feeling.


Approach the Kitchen With Intention

It can be tempting to open your fridge or freezer and stand in front of it to get a blast of cold air on a particularly hot day. However, doing this forces the appliance to work harder to stay cool, raising the temperature of your kitchen in the long run — so keep that door tightly closed if you can. Additionally, veer away from using large appliances like the oven and stove as much as possible during the warmer months, and instead opt for smaller alternatives, such as an instant pot, crockpot, or outdoor grill. These little switches will substantially cut down on the amount of heat that is generated and distributed in your apartment.


Take Care of Yourself

Staying cool starts from the inside out, so be sure to work extra hard to keep yourself hydrated during the warmer months. Canada Health recommends the following self-care practices during heat waves: dress in loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, take cool showers or baths, and limit physical activity in extreme temperatures.