Plum Orchard’s Apartment Living Guide #2: 10 Tips to Keep Your Apartment Cool Without Air Conditioning


With the summer heat upon us, apartment living can sometimes make it tough to keep cool. While we all love California summers, it can be a struggle to manage them without A/C. 

If you’re looking for some tips on how to beat the heat without breaking the bank, we’ve compiled a list of easy ways you can stay cool without air conditioning. You’ll be surprised at how little effort these simple solutions require. The best part? Every tip is doable in a 1- or 2-bedroom apartment. Stay cool in your 1- or 2-bedroom apartment in San Jose so you can focus on what’s important this summer: enjoying the best season of the year.

#1 Optimize Airflow

When it’s hot outside, most people’s go-to fix is to crack a window. But if it’s just as hot outside as it is inside, that won’t get you the results you’re hoping for. Instead, open multiple windows at a time. That will create more airflow so you can enjoy the fresh air and a nice breeze.

#2 Use Your Fans Strategically

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Just turning on a fan in a hot apartment won’t give you optimal results. Try setting up two fans at once in different windows of different rooms. Position one fan so it’s blowing into a window and another to blow air out the window. That will pull in the cooler outdoor air and push the hot indoor air outside, creating a lovely cross-breeze.

Only have one fan? Fill a pan or mixing bowl with ice and set it in front of your fan. (An ice pack works with this trick as well.) The ice will cool the air down as it passes over it, creating a nice breeze for you. This is especially useful if you tend to get too warm in bed.

#3 Block Out the Sun

During the summer, heat from the sun flows in through your windows and can’t get out. This creates a greenhouse effect where your apartment is boiling even if the air outside is bearable.

Block out the sun by closing your shades. Or, even better, hang up blackout curtains in a neutral color. The kind with white plastic backings are the most effective. And bonus, you’ll enjoy a little extra privacy.

#4 Avoid Heat-Making Kitchen Appliances

You probably don’t notice it the rest of the year, but the heat from your stove, oven and other kitchen appliances makes your whole home warmer. Sidestep this issue by sticking to cold meals like salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and iced drinks. You probably aren’t in the mood for a hot meal anyway if your apartment is piping hot!

When you have to use cooking appliances, do it in the evening when the air is cooler. Try batch-making meals, so you don’t have to cook as often. It’s convenient and will minimize the amount of time you spend over a hot stove. And after you’re done cooking, turn on the exhaust fan. It’s designed to draw the hot air out of your apartment.

#5 Open Your Windows at Night

Make the most of the cooler nighttime hours by opening your windows at night. There’s nothing worse than a hot, stuffy apartment during the day, so make sure you’re getting fresh air in. Just make sure someone in your apartment makes up early enough to close the windows and blinds back up again before the weather heats up again in the morning!

#6 Keep Your Body Cool

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While you can’t control the weather, you can control how your body handles it. Dress in lightweight, breathable fabrics (now’s not the time for heavy synthetics). Sip on ice water throughout the way. Eat cool foods (this is the perfect excuse to treat yourself to an iced coffee or popsicle). Try using an ice pack or cold cloth on your neck and wrists. Those are both pulse points, so keeping them cool will help drop your body temperature.

#7 Take a Cool Shower Before Bed

If you find yourself getting warm at night and having trouble sleeping, taking a cool shower before bed can help. It lowers your body temperature and will help you stay cooler as you sleep. This tip also works any time of day when you find yourself overheating. Skip the hot showers until the weather cools back down.

#8 Put Your Pillow in the Freezer

This sounds silly but think of it as the opposite of wearing a hat to keep warm. Your head and feet are both significant areas for regulating your body heat, so keeping your pillow cold will help the rest of your body stay cool as well. And who likes a warm pillow anyway?

While you’re at it, poke your feet out from under your covers!

If that’s not your thing, you can also fill empty quart-size plastic soda containers with water, freeze them, and wrap a dish towel around them to catch condensation.  Sleep with them under the sheets.  You can also use them as neck and back pillows or under your cat’s bed.

#9 Slip on Some Damp Socks Before Bed

It’s the same logic as wrapping a cold towel around the back of your neck. Run a pair of socks under cool water, wring out any excess moisture (you want them damp, not soaking), and slip them on as you go to bed. Combined with the “pillow in the freezer” trick, you’ll have no trouble sleeping, no matter how hot it gets outside.

#10 Switch Up Your Bedding

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Now’s the time to switch to lighter-weight bedding if you usually sleep with flannel sheets or heavy fleece blankets. Cotton or bamboo bedding breathes better, which means it won’t trap heat and keep you toasty all night long.

If you’re really serious about staying cool while you sleep, consider buying a buckwheat pillow for summertime. Buckwheat hulls naturally have gaps of air between them, unlike other pillow materials like memory foam. That means they don’t hold onto body heat as conventional pillows do, and you’ll have a comfy place to rest your head without overheating!

Beating the California summer heat without A/C can be a challenge. Luckily, you can take plenty of small steps to stay cool without shelling out for industrial fans or portable A/C units. Give a few of these a try; everyone in your apartment will thank you! Check out our Plum Orchard Apartments Blog for more tips about apartment living.

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