How-to: Keep your house cool

I live in a three story townhouse, and my bed is on the third floor. Sometimes, it can get so, so hot and I’m tempted to turn tail and hide at my parent’s place, where I not only sleep in the cool basement but also they have air conditioning!

While that compulsion isn’t so bad on the weekends when I don’t have to get too much done, during the week that means I have to get up about 30 minutes earlier and spend time packing work clothes/makeup to get ready in the morning, as well as drive into my house on the highway to tuck my car into the garage before walking to the bus station. It’s a lot of variables to add to an already hectic average work day, so I really try to keep my house cool to avoid doing that, as much as I love midweek visits to my parent’s place!

I know what you’re thinking, buy a portable air conditioner unit or a window version. I hear you. As someone who owns their home and pays whatever the utilities bills are, I investigated some of the options and couldn’t justify the cost of purchasing the unit ($500+ for a space of my size), creating a venting option, the energy to run it and then a reserve fund for if the self-evaporation function on it fails and there is a water leak in my home. Plus, as Consumerist and Consumer Report would imply, the efficacy of the portable units isn’t really worth the cost either.

For window air conditioner units, the argument was immediately stopped by a ban on them by the community guidelines in my area. However, they have a much higher incidence of mold than any other type of air conditioner, which can be damaging to respiratory health. If secured improperly, they can also be a safety and security concern.


So, I took some hints and tricks from family and friends and have a system that gets my main floor to 17 degrees every night and around 20 degrees upstairs- perfectly reasonable living temperatures, potentially even too cool for some people! Here are my tips:


Keep your lights and appliances off until it cools down

This one seems like a no-brainer, but also make sure that your blinds are of the blackout version in bedrooms and high-sun areas. Sure, my plain white vinyl blind isn’t the prettiest in my bedroom, but it keeps the sun out and that keeps my house cool. Airy curtain sheers are not doing you any favors, no matter how pretty they may be.


A lot of different types of lights kick off ambient heat that can make your home even hotter. For this reason, I keep my main floor lights off until I need to have them on- sometimes that means I need to turn on a lamp for task lighting, but it’s a lot less than lighting the whole place up like a landing strip. Similarly, 25+degree heat may not be the best time to be baking a chicken in your oven. These are great days to use a crock pot, or your microwave to heat up a premade meal from the freezer. Better yet, try this no-cook meal I talked about recently. Once it’s cool outside and you have your windows open, do what you like (within reason).

Broke Girl Air Conditioning


No, I am not implying you sit around and sweat it out until the sun goes down or outside gets cooler then inside. Although if you want to make yourself an iced drink and pretend it’s Mexico, I am with you. You can do things to prepare your house to clear the hot air out faster, though! I start with freezing trays of ice and pyrex dishes of water the night before. Then, on my main floor I turn on my giant turbo fan and aim it right on the ice! The effect of this is like dropping an ice cube in your drink- it cools the ambient temperature of your drink (or whatever room you’re in) and the heat rises. The same happens in your house! You’re just forcing it a bit. It is also nice to sit in front of the cool wind it provides. Beyonce hair alllllll night. This helps me be able to sit and watch TV, prep dinner, work on my computer without sweating to death. I’m Canadian… for the most part we’re optimized for cold, not heat up here in the GWN.

Once it is cooler outside than inside, take your fan or fans upstairs to the highest floor of your home or position them by your best windows for breeziness if you live on one level. Open up those windows and turn the fans on high. So long as your house is hotter than outside, there should be a natural effect where the hot air wants to rise, which means it needs to go outside! The fans will help push it out more expediently.


And of course, when all else fails, put some ice packs in your bed and tough it out! We only get hot weather every so often up here so it’s worth it to be good natured about it.



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