How to Stay Cool in Hot Weather When the A.C. Breaks

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Last week, it got down to 49 degrees Fahrenheit. This week? When I don’t have AC? Of course, the heat had to rise all the way to 85 degrees by 9:00 in the morning. Is it fun? Did I stay cool? Absolutely not. Is it a learning experience? Probably. Well, definitely… but not one I’d set out to experience. 

I bet you’re wondering how I didn’t lose my mind and have a heat stroke. The first part we’re not even going to talk about. I definitely am losing my mind – I absolutely hate being hot. Grumpy and irritable don’t even begin to describe how I felt that morning. But I will tell you how I haven’t had a heat stroke yet, without spending any extra money. Not even a dime.


I freaking love popsicles. They’re refreshing, cooling, and absolutely wonderful. However, I do not have a popsicle mold…or popsicle sticks…or fruit. BUT I still managed to figure out a way to make some without spending any of my hard-earned moolah with three simple ingredients.

  • Lemon or lime juice 
  • Sugar (as much as you’d like depending on how sweet you like your popsicles. I started with 3 tbsp. in 1 cup of water, but this can easily be adjusted!)
  • Water 

I heated up ¼ cup of water in the microwave and my sugar so it would dissolve. (I figured the microwave would produce less heat than my stovetop would). I added the rest of the water and the lemon juice until it tasted something like lemonade. Once it was the right taste, I poured it into some ice cube trays, let it freeze for a few hours, and once it was partially frozen, I put in the toothpicks and let it freeze all the way.

And voila! Mini popsicles in only a few hours!

Cool, breezy clothes will help you stay cool.

Think, coastal grandmother. Cotton, linen…you know, light and flowy clothing. A lot of Target’s clothes are at least 50% cotton, but be sure to check the tags to confirm. You also want to stick to light-colored clothing. It reflects most of the light and, in turn, absorbs less of it. This, surprisingly, can make a huge difference in how hot you get.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 

I’m a beverage girlie. I love to have cute cups and a drink in hand, and I love water, but sometimes it gets boring – especially when you’re chugging it all day long. I used the same lemonade mixture from above for drinking, and I added different teas to it as well, giving it some extra flavor. 

If you’re someone who loves ice teas, you can turn pretty much any type of tea into iced tea. All you need is water, a container, tea bags, and sugar if you like your iced tea sweet. The easiest way to do it is to put a little bit of hot water in the container (I use a juice pitcher) and two tea bags. Let it sit for five minutes, then fill it to the top with cold water (and ice if you have it.)

Put it in the fridge, and you’ve got iced tea. 

The best part is that you can leave the tea bags in the pitcher and just keep topping it up with cold water as you drink. My personal favorite is to use green tea and nothing sweet. I can easily get three full pitchers of green iced tea before I have to change out the tea bags.


They can only do so much, but the placement is important. In front of a window helps fresh air circulate all around the room, but directly in front of you while you’re misting water helps a lot as well. 

Another pro tip, if you have ice in the freezer, try putting a bowl of ice directly in front of the fan. This will help circulate colder air. When this is the case, I’ll often freeze a few bowls full of water, so I have them ready to go and can alternate them as each one melts.

So, how do you stay cool with no air conditioning on a budget?

These are just a few quick and easy tricks you can use in a pinch without spending an extra dime. It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than the alternative of things like heat stroke. But what are your thoughts? How do you stay cool? Let us know in the comments below.

About Chloe Morgan

Chloe Morgan grew up living with a tight budget. In her late teens and early 20’s all the lessons she’d learned started to slip, like it does for many college age students on their own for the first time, and with their first credit card. As she’s gotten older, she’s started to deal with the repercussions and has taken on a frugal way of living, keeping her costs low, as she pays off debt and saves for her future. Chloe lives in Northern Ontario, Canada, with her cute dog, Rhea.

How to Stay Cool in Hot Weather When the A.C. Breaks
Picture of Chloe Morgan

Chloe Morgan

Chloe Morgan grew up living with a tight budget. In her late teens and early 20’s all the lessons she’d learned started to slip, like it does for many college age students on their own for the first time, and with their first credit card. As she’s gotten older, she’s started to deal with the repercussions and has taken on a frugal way of living, keeping her costs low, as she pays off debt and saves for her future. Chloe lives in Northern Ontario, Canada, with her cute dog, Rhea.

12 thoughts on “How to Stay Cool in Hot Weather When the A.C. Breaks”

  1. Those were excellent ideas. An extra one that I use is to buy those Frogg Togg towels. When moistened, they are down right cold! You can put them around your neck during the day and on top of your pajamas at night with a fan. It reduces the temperature by 20 degrees. Amazing results.


    This is very timely, as we are just experiencing our first official heat warning of the summer (and it’s still May! In Ontario!!) If you don’t have to look professional and can get away with it, muumuus for the win! I get mine from Vermont County Store – a bit spendy, but they last forever, and are pure cotton. When the AC is out, I will also shower 2 or 3 times a day – in lukewarm water. It is amazing how being freshly clean can make you feel less hot and icky. I am lucky to have a basement (unfinished, more of a cold cellar really, in a 120 year old house). It’s damp and very buggy and rather moldy, but on a hot day like this, working down there can keep me surprisingly cool.

  3. I work in my yard/gardens a lot so I wear a brimmed hat, my sunglasses, gardening gloves, AND a wet hand towel around the back of my neck. As soon as I start to feel warm, I turn the towel over so the outside (cool area) is next to my skin. It’s amazing how quickly this damp towel brings down my body temp. And it works just as well inside the house as it does outside. No expense involved.

  4. OopsWrongEmail

    Cool showers help, so if you have that luxury, you can take a quick one a couple or few times throughout the day. Even better if you can just soak in a cool/tepid tub for a while!

    1. #1. Wear a 100% Cotton, Pique Knit (pronounced Pee-Kay), Golf/Polo Shirt. The Pique Knit allows body heat and moisture to escape.

      #2. Avoid Jersey Knit, Crew Neck T-Shirts with Polyester

      #3. Wear shirts with a open neckline.

      #4. Wear Shorts.

      #5. Wear loose fitting, 100% Cotton clothing.

      #6. If you have physical activity you need to do that day, do it in the morning when it is the coolest.

      #7. If you live alone, strip down to your Underwear.

      #8. If your House has a basement, consider living down there during the hot Summer months.

  5. I live on the third floor, over a parking lot, one window, no a c. I run the fan, in my window, at night and close up during the day w/curtains drawn. I then turn the fan on me. I’ll eat cold food and cook w/a crockpot or the microwave. Iced coffee, showers and if I feel a tad nauseous, I’ll put a sprinkle of salt and sugar in my drink. Underwear in the freezer.

  6. I spent a summer without air conditioning in an upper floor of a poorly ventilated building with huge south facing windows. One thing people did, because they were desperate, was tape aluminum foil in the windows. I used heavy drapes during the day and that helped too.

  7. Basement – can’t say enough about the basement. With or without a dehumidifier, it doesn’t matter. I’ve slept on the floor in front of the open (with screen) patio door. Body heat from others is *not* appreciated during a heat wave. I find that if I can keep my feet cool, I am cooler. Meaning tile floors are your friend. Sweating is good for you and if you’re not sweating, you may be in trouble. For years we had a Vornado fan (we did not have A/C at the time) which I highly recommend. Variable speeds and adjustable made this fan great. Oscillating fans help when more than one person to be cooled.
    There was a period of time when I had a car with A/C but no A/C in the house. I’d not use the A/C when driving home from work. Conversely, spouse who worked outside (and still occasionally does) always had a dry t-shirt for the drive home – A/C or no A/C in his truck.
    Yes, it is less of a challenge out in the country with no A/C than in the city/suburbs. Being smart about the heat can save your life.
    Mom always closed the shades/curtains/drapes during the day when it was hot. Limit lights and other heat generating devices. I am of the mindset that one should get ahead of the heat (like getting ahead of pain). I get the windows/doors closed, turn on the A/C, make sure the humidity is OUT of the house. A benefit of replacing windows, doors, and insulating is payback during A/C (or heat) usage. I’m able to avoid the house getting hot thus the A/C running non-stop for a long period of time.
    IF your furnace has a fan setting and you have a basement, running the furnace on fan will help.
    If all else fails, find a cooling center if you are in a somewhat populated area.

  8. Cool showers are great, but if you can’t shower then draw some water and sponge yourself off. Wearing a damp neck cloth can also help. Open up the windows at night, then shut them during the day and keep blinds/drapes on the sunny side closed. And speaking of popsicles, electrolyte drinks can be frozen as well. Whether it’s Gatorade/Powerade or a home made brew, pour it into your ice cube trays and when it’s frozen, eat it as one does a popsicle. This is a good way to keep your electrolytes up! It also worked well for me once when I was too sick to keep water down.

  9. In addition to the above ideas, wrap blue ice packs in a towel and place on pressure points when resting. Does wonders.

  10. Bill in Houston

    Here in Texas, summer started at the end of April.

    Nearly every Texan has access to air conditioning, but not always. Air flow is a must, so fans are a huge help. Windows open but close curtains on the side of the house with the sun. It helps if those curtains are light colored. Ice is your friend, so if you can get a bag of it it’ll keep drinks cold. Also blowing air over a bowl of ice can cool a room nicely for a while. Try not to use the stove, except in the morning when it is coolest.

  11. Great article! I do everything mentioned but I have one more hint. Buy a light linen or 100% cotton shirt. Roll it up in a ball and put it under the faucet on low and lightly dampen it inside and out. Turn on the fan and you’ll be amazed at how cool you will feel. At night before going to bed put a mattress pad on your bed and sleep in the dampened shirt and surround yourself with rechargeable fans and you will sleep well. You will be cool using this trick even when you experience power outages.

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