How can you stay cool in the heat of the summer with no air conditioning?

Ah the summer. We love it when the sun shines – but then reality bites. How can you beat that sticky heat and avoid feeling wiped out, especially if you need to work or if you can’t spend all your day in a hot room.

Here in the UK, we don’t really do air conditioning, so that means we tend to feel the heat more at home. And if you have big south facing windows, or live in a studio/eaves apartment, it can be stifling on a hot day

So how can you avoid the summer heat and stay cool?

1. Stay hydrated

Number one on the list is drink lots of cold water. Popping a few ice cubes in there is also an effective way of keeping yourself both cool and refreshed. Make sure to keep stocked up with ice cubes, or keep bottles of tap water in the fridge.

Stay hydrated to stay cool in the summer

2. Draw the curtains

Although it’s lovely to let the summer sun in, it’s also a way to let the heat in too. Draw those curtains during the day, and keep the windows closed too. This will stop your room being heated by the direct sunlight.

3. Open windows and doors that don’t face the sun

If you have north facing windows, or those that are in shade all day, this can be a great way to let a cool draft through your house. Try to create a through draft by opening at least two doors or windows that are a reasonable distance apart – ideally in different rooms.

4. Get a fan

As we don’t have air conditioning very often here in the UK, using a fan is a cheap way to stay cool in the summer months. You can pick up a desk fan for £20-30 in most UK supermarkets or hardware stores. If you have a big area to keep cool, you might need to invest in a few to keep the air circulating.

5. Keep pressure points cool

Keeping your body temperature down is an effective way to stay cool in the summer months. Use a chilled flannel to wrap around your wrists, neck and ankles to help you cool down. Keep a bowl or tub of chilled water in the fridge and have a couple of flannels in circulation. They warm up quickly though but this can be a useful way to get some cool relief.

6. Freeze some fruit

A cheap way to keep cool in the summer, and get your 5 a day, is to freeze some fruit such as bananas, grapes, watermelon and berries. Chop banana into slices and freeze for a natural cooling ice cream. Or freeze watermelon triangles for a delicious, cooling and hydrating treat. This is a great way to get your kids to keep cool and eat their fruit too.

7. Get a paddling pool

If you have a yard or sheltered spot in the garden, pop a paddling pool into a shaded spot to cool down in the summer heat. Yes, kids love a paddling pool. But even if you’re an adult this is still a great cheap way to beat the heat in those roasting summer months.

8. Stay in the shade

Perhaps obviously, the best way to stay cool is to stay out of the sun. Especially in the hottest part of the day between midday and around 4pm.

9. Sit under a tree

When you visit the Med or any hot country, you often see groups of people sat under trees. There are reasons for that… Firstly, trees provide shade. And secondly, they generate their own gentle cooling breeze. So if you really need to cool down, find a big leafy tree to sit under for a tried and tested way to stay cool in the summer heat.

Trees offer the perfect shade during a summer heatwave

10. Use houseplants to cool a room down

Did you know some houseplants can be used to help generate a breeze and cool down your hot room. Much like sitting under a tree, houseplants can be used to draw a breeze through a room. Spider plants, palm fronds, spider plants and other large leafy plants can help to draw a breeze. Group them in doorways or next to windows for the best results.

11. Avoid (excess) alcohol

It might be tempting to drink a cool beer or gin and tonic to refresh yourself. But the truth is alcohol doesn’t cool you down. In fact, it can contribute to dehydration and even make you pee more – hence losing more liquid. Sure, enjoy a cooling drink – but avoid excess. Focus instead on water or non-alcoholic drinks.

12. Wear cotton clothing

Stay cool by wearing cool clothing. And in the summer months, that means 100% cotton. As a natural fabric, cotton is light, breathable and lets air circulate easily. Avoid any man made fabric such as polyester, acrylic, viscose or nylon as these all contain plastics which keep the heat in.

13. Get in the water

Here in Devon we’re lucky to be surrounded by beaches, lakes and rivers. What better way to cool off in the summer than enjoying a swim in the fresh water. Even if you don’t want to take the plunge, simply dipping your feet in cold running water will bring your body temperature down and help you feel cool in the hot weather.

14. Open windows in the evening

If the sun warms up your house by day, the evening breeze can help to offer some refreshing relief. Once the sun dips lower in the sky, after 6 or 7pm, it’s a good idea to get those windows open for some natural air conditioning.

15. A water sprayer

If you really can’t escape the heat, an effective and cheap way to lower your body temperature is to use a water spray on your face. In the same way that sweat evaporating from your skin cools you down, the water spray does the same thing. Combine with a fan or breeze to really cool down in the summer months.

BONUS 16. Go somewhere with A/C

Really need to cool off? Go hang out at your local coffee shop, mall or supermarket and soak up their air conditioning. Many businesses have A/C so you can just go and hang out, browse, sit and drink a coffee and generally cool down in the summer heat. For free! Or cheap anyway…

Some other tips for summer safety

Remember to stay safe in the sun and wear sunscreen! Kids especially need to be protected with SPF 50, applied regularly, even if they’re playing in the shade.

Wear a light hat to keep direct sun off your head.

Avoid exercise or getting too hot during the hottest part of the day. Save your run for the evening, or first thing in the morning.

And if you have pets, keep them out of the sun during the hottest part of the day and never leave them locked in a car in the sun. If they stay at home during the day, make sure your pets have sufficient water, shade and a breeze to keep them cool – they feel the summer heat too!