How to Survive the Summer Without Air Conditioning

During brutal East Coast winters, I’d tell myself that even the hottest day of the year would be better than months of biting cold and dangerous storms. But I had also never lived in a 100-year-old house without air conditioning in LA. All summer, I’ve been suffering in a beautiful but slightly uncomfortable one-story home with no air circulation, and though it really bothers me sometimes—like when it’s hotter inside than outside—I’ve picked up some survival strategies that don’t include purchasing an AC unit.

Air conditioning is expensive (the unit itself, the electric bills), especially if you live in a major city like Los Angeles or New York, both of which get pretty toasty in June, July and August. As much as I’d like to have air conditioning for the dog days, I know I can live without it. Here’s how to avoid melting in your un-air conditioned abode.

Place an ice pack on the back of your neck every hour

Without grossing you out too much, it also doesn’t hurt to place it under your armpits, too. You’ll cool down really fast—just make sure no one else plans on using said ice pack.

Take cold showers

I showered twice yesterday and kept the knob on “cold” the entire time. It felt really good, especially since I’d been home all day. I like to joke that you can lose weight by sitting in an un-air conditioned house all day, as you’ll sweat out all your body weight, but nobody in their right mind would find this a pleasant experience. Hop in the shower and embrace the cold.

Get a fan (or five)

I don’t know where I’d be without my two fans. When you can’t get AC, you’re kind of reliant on these. Get a big one for the giant rooms in your house and perhaps a little one for your desk or nightstand so you constantly have air blowing in your face.

Open the windows

There are the risks involved with keeping your windows open (burglars, bugs), but if you’re careful, the benefits are worthwhile. Open them up towards the end of the day when the weather has cooled down so you don’t just get hot air flowing inside.

Wear a ponytail (or your hair up) inside

If you’ve got long hair like me, your best bet is to keep it away from the back of your neck. Nothing feels more disgusting than a slimy, damp neck.

Sleep in cotton sheets

I’ve loved jersey bed sheets since college, but they’re not fun during summertime. When you retire for the day, try to sleep with light-colored cotton or linen sheets.

Stay hydrated

And don’t be afraid to pour some water on yourself while you’re at it! Your skin will love you for it.

Eat a popsicle and other foods to cool you down

When you have no air conditioning, it’s probably not the best idea to whip up something big in the kitchen, a room that is probably already overheated. Consume foods that will cool you down. You finally have an excuse to buy that pint of Half Baked ice cream you’ve been eyeing during recent trips to the grocery store!

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