9 home remedies to stay cool without spending – according to experts

You do not need to shell out to stay cool, these heat remedies use things you already have at home

kitchen window with dining table and chairs
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Air conditioning is a luxury that not all of us have access to during a heat wave. Luckily, however, there are some quick home remedies to help you stay cool – and without spending money too. 

Although having high-tech fans, air conditioning, and dehumidifiers certainly help keep a home cool in a heatwave, they are not the end-all and be-all. In fact, you may only need a simple fan and some ice to help alleviate the oppressive heat. 

Here are nine home remedies to stay cool without spending, recommended by experts. 

Home remedies to stay cool – without spending 

Cooling down a room without AC or spending money on the best fan doesn't have to be a nightmare. Usually, it is about using what you have strategically rather than haphazardly to get the best results when trying to remove hot air from your home. 

1. Push hot air out of the room with a fan

bedroom with chairs in window

(Image credit: Jared Kuzia)

If you have a fan already, then it can be used to help redirect existing hot air in your house out through open windows (or doors if you are trying to cool down a room without windows) suggests Jeff Palla, president of Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company. 

‘For extreme heat conditions to quickly remove heat from a room, it is best to open one window, from the top if possible, and place a fan in front of the window to push the hot air of the room.’ This method can be a more effective way of using fans, helping to actually lower the temperature of a room. This is because fans usually only blow a cooler air stream over your body, rather than lower the mercury. 

‘Once the room is under normal conditions, utilizing a ceiling fan will help redistribute air throughout the room,’ Jeff adds. 

Jeff Palla
Jeff Palla

Jeff Palla was named President of Mr. Handyman by Neighborly in 2022. Mr. Handyman is the nation’s leading home maintenance, repair, and improvement experts

2. Insulate the inside of windows

Although usually a draft-proofing tip, insulating your home does more than keep you warm in winter. Blocking up gaps and covering the inside of the window with a reflective film can help to keep heat out just as effectively as cold air. 

‘Many reflective films can block up to 79% of the solar energy from entering and heating up your home,’ explains David Flax, president of Window Genie, a Neighborly company. ‘What’s more, by reducing the amount of heat entering through the windows, the film helps improve energy efficiency and can save you money on cooling the home.’

It is important to keep in mind that the effectiveness and quality of the window film can vary depending on the film type and quality, however, he adds. That being aid, in a pinch and without spending, you can opt to use aluminum foil from your kitchen drawer. 

Reflective Window Film | Was $20.99, Now $13.99 at Amazon

Reflective Window Film | Was $20.99, Now $13.99 at Amazon
This reflective window film is highly rated on Amazon and is great for both reflecting external heat away from your home and keeping your home private through summer. 

3. Close window treatments to reduce heat transfer

Modern cream living room with abstract printed curtains, curved sofa, rug, coffee table, lantern pendant

(Image credit: Future)

Your window treatments are for more than looking nice when it comes to temperature control. Using the right materials can help you to stay cool too, explains Jeramy Sibley, president of Glass Doctor, a Neighborly company. 

‘Window shades are a great way to prevent furniture damage, lower energy costs, and reduce the UV rays which cause heat transfer entering your home by up to 90%,’ he explains. ‘With blackout curtains keeping heat out as well as the blaring sun.’

‘Consider keeping your blinds and curtains closed during the hottest hours of the day. It may be a bit darker, but it will be worth it for the lowered temperature.’

4. Run ceiling fans counterclockwise

An all white bedroom with a light wood ceiling fan

(Image credit: Unsplash)

It should be no secret by now that your ceiling fan direction can make a huge difference in how cool your room feels. 

Mark Woodruff, senior product manager and HVAC expert at Trane Residential reminds us that we should be running our ceiling fans clockwise: ‘Fans are not just for keeping you cool in the summer. Ceiling fans do a great job of circulating warm air that rises to the top of the room and redistributes it throughout the house, a counter-clockwise direction pulls hot air up and away from you – pair this with open upper windows and you can effectively pull the hot air out of your space,’ he says. 

5. Use chilled damp towels to cool skin

white twoels on towel ladder in monochrome bathroom

(Image credit: Christy)

To help cool down your skin directly, you can dampen face clothes, such as these cotton cloths from Amazon, and leave them in your refrigerator to help chill them. These can then be applied to your face, chest, and neck to help naturally lower your body temperature. 

6. Limit heat-generating activities

A white kitchen with a space rack built into the side of a wall unit

(Image credit: Madeline Harper photography / Anastasia Casey design)

Avoiding adding more heat to your home is essential when trying to cool it down without spending anything. The major producers of heat are usually your cooking appliances, such as your ovens and stovetops, and your tumble dryer too, explains Kodi Wilson, HVAC expert, and campus director at the National Technical Institute. These appliances can drastically increase your home's internal temperature, and make your cooling appliances such as fans or ac work hard – costing you more money in the long run.

7. Open windows at night and close them during the day

Contemporary gray bedroom with patterned window film and gray curtains

(Image credit: Purlfrost)

Although it may seem counterintuitive, it can help to keep your windows closed in the day and only open them at night to prevent letting more hot air into your home – especially when trying to keep upstairs cool in summer, says Jeramy Sibley, president of Glass Doctor. 

‘If you are in an area where it cools off at night, open the windows to let fresh, cool air into the home. This will help reduce energy usage during the day. You can also use a fan to help pull air from outside into the home.’

When opening your windows at night, it may help to learn some tips to keep bugs out of bedrooms when sleeping with open windows too to ensure your sleep isn’t disturbed any more than it may already be. 

8. Make a DIY air con with ice and a fan

A close up of a metal fan next to some plants

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When trying to cool down a room with fans, a little extra help can go a long way to ensure they are circulating cold air, not just punching the hot humid air around your home. Pacing an ice block, or a frozen bottle of water, behind your fan can chill the air around it ready for redistribution. 

9. Opt for lightweight fabrics

Cultiver bedding best bedding brands

(Image credit: Cultiver)

One of the best ways to sleep in warm weather without spending is to change your bed linens to lightweight fabrics to help your skin breathe through the night. 

Jennifer Ebert, deputy editor (digital) for Homes & Gardens suggests opting for the best linen sheets where you can, as the material is known as some of the best cooling sheets due to its ability to wick away moisture and regulate your body temperature throughout the night. You may also wish to forgo your comforter or duvet in favor of simple sheets too – unless you have one of the best cooling comforters, that is. 

It can also help to use lighter weight fabrics for your clothing, and your window treatments too, she adds, to allow cool air to flow easily into your home where thicker drapes may absorb heat and contribute to warming up your room. 

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jen is the Deputy Editor (Digital) of Homes & Gardens online. Before starting this position, she had completed various interior design courses at KLC Design School, as well as working across Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes and Country Homes & Interiors as an interiors writer.


How can I cool down fast?

The quickest way to cool down is to submerge yourself in cool water – be it a bath or shower while also consuming cool liquids. It is important to not go from an area of high heat into freezing cold water, however, as it can send our body into shock, so submerge yourself slowly, and use tepid water cooler than the ambient air, but not cold enough that it could have just come out of a fridge. 

Why am I struggling to cool down?

If you are struggling to cool down despite taking measures to beat the heat, then it may be down to a medical condition like Dysautonomia. It is important to see a doctor about any heat intolerance you experience, however, for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. 

These home remedies for keeping cool without spending may not be as efficient as turning on an air conditioner, but they will certainly help to take the edge off in a pinch and can even help to keep your pets cool in a heatwave too. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.