Skip to Content

How to Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

Sick of the heat and your air conditioning bill? We gave up air conditioning 3 summers ago and have no plans to go back! Here’s how we save money and stay cool without air conditioning! 


Our house doesn’t have air conditioning. 

Depending where you live, this might be perfectly normal. But not where we live! I do not know a single other person who doesn’t have air conditioning in their home! When I tell people we don’t have air conditioning, they look at me like I just told them that an Elvis Presley impersonator and the Easter bunny live with us. ? And they think I’ve completely gone mad when I tell them that we have no intentions of ever putting in an HVAC system!

Yes, it gets hot here. July and August temps typically stay in the 90’s and always swing into the 100’s throughout the summer. Luckily, we have very low humidity! Cause this girl doesn’t do humidity – and neither does my hair!  Give me that dry desert heat any day!

How to stay cool without air conditioning

Personally, we like not having air conditioning. But, before we get started, let me just say this: if you’ve got air conditioning and you love it, then you rock that! You don’t need to “rough it” or become a sweaty monster to be a homesteader! We aren’t pioneers and we don’t need to live like one in order to reach some invisible “good homesteader” standard. You do you, boo!

Why we don’t have (and don’t want!) air conditioning:

So why on earth would we ever want to live without air conditioning? Well, there’s several reasons!

  • It’s way cheaper! We don’t have to pay to maintain or replace an air conditioning system or a furnace. I love that our electric bills are $50/month instead of $200+/month like they were when we had to conventionally heat and cool our home!
  • It’s better for the environment. Air conditioners contribute to greenhouse emissions and they use a lot of energy. Naturally cooling your house (even part of the time) can help protect our earth and environment. 
  • I’ve never liked air conditioning. This might sound weird, but it’s too cold! ? Lindy and I both naturally run cold (like freezing all the time!) so we don’t mind our house being a bit warmer.
  • We handle the summer heat better now. This might be in my head, but I feel like our bodies have a much easier time handling the summer heat now that we don’t have air conditioning. You know that extreme shock you feel when you walk our of an air conditioned building into the summer heat? We don’t have that since our house stays warmer, forcing our bodies to acclimate to the natural temperatures. I also feel like this is an important part of living seasonally and as close to the earth as possible. Yeah, I know, that’s some hippy-dippy shit, but I actually like feeling more connected to the earth in this way.

Now, all that being said, it still gets hot and miserable some days! But we’ve worked out a pretty great system to keep our house cool! And none of it is rocket science! These ideas are all easy, common sense things that anyone can do! If you want to live without air conditioning, or if you want to reduce the amount of air conditioning you use, here are 5 ways to naturally stay cool this summer!

Stay cool without air conditioning: weather app showing temp at 106 degrees Fahrenheit

Five ways we stay cool without air conditioning during the summer:

**This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no expense to you if you choose to sign up for services using these links. See our full affiliate disclosure here. Thanks for helping support this blog! **

1. Work dem windows!

The most important thing you can do to control your home’s temperature is to use your windows correctly. They can be your best friend (keeping your house nice and cool), or your worst enemy (letting all the hot air in)! High quality double-pane windows will make your house more efficient both in the summer and the winter. If you have older-style windows, this can be an expensive home upgrade but it’s definitely worth it! 

To keep our house cool, we have to open and close the windows at the right times. Every evening, when the temps cool down, we open our windows. We leave them open overnight (yes, we live in a safe area!) to let the cool night air in. The windows stay open as long as possible in the mornings, either until we have to leave for work or until it the temps start to heat up. The key is to get them closed before your house heats up!

Stay cool without air conditioning: window with plantation shutters

We also heavily rely on blinds and shades during the summer. We have plantation shutters on all our windows. I can’t express how much I love them! They make it so easy to adjust the amount of light we let in! They allow us to keep the direct sunlight out without making our house dark and gloomy!

Stay cool without air conditioning: house with sun shade fabric shades over the exterior windows

We also have fabric sun shades on the outside of our house on our West-facing windows. These shades are designed to block UV rays. They let a little filtered light in, but keep the direct sun and heat out. We roll the shades down each summer and roll them up for fall and winter. They make a huge difference in keeping the house cool!

2. Become a fan of fans!

Next to windows, I would say that using fans is the second best thing you can do to keep your house cool. Yes, fans do require some energy to run, but it’s very minimal compared to the expense of running a window AC unit or a full HVAC system! 

Our ceiling fans run non-stop all summer long. And, believe it or not, ceiling fans have different settings for winter and summer! Be sure you have them on the summer setting so that the blades spin in a counter-clockwise direction. 

Stay cool without air conditioning: window fan sitting in window sill

Now, I’m going to tell you about our secret weapon to combat the summer heat: window fans! Have you ever heard of them? I hadn’t! And I have never seen them in stores, which is crazy because they are so efficient and work so well! These fans sit inside your window sill and either pull cool air in or push hot air out, depending which direction you face them. You will be able to immediately notice the difference when you use them! They are lifesavers – and so freaking cheap to buy and operate!

If I’m canning in the kitchen and producing a lot of heat, I’ll turn the kitchen window fan so that it blows the hot air out, keeping the room much cooler. During the evenings, nights and cool mornings, we turn them so they blow the cool outside air in. We use these window fans and we place these 12x20x1-inch furnace filters  between the fan and the window screen. This helps keep the air much cleaner – especially when it’s smokey from forest fires!

3. Cook cautiously during the heat

Don’t even think about turning that oven on during a heatwave! One of the quickest way to warm up your house is by cooking! Now, you can either feed your family cereal every night during the summer, or find some creative ways to prepare your food! 

During the summer, I utilize electric appliances that keep the kitchen cooler. I regularly use my bread machine, yogurt maker, and crock pot because they put off very little heat. I’ve also heard that InstaPots are another great option! 

We cook outside a lot during the summer. This Spring, we finished creating our outdoor living space with the specific intent of being able to have a nice area to cook during the summers. It’s even equipped with misters! We have a charcoal grill and an electric single-burner hot plate that we use to cook the majority of our meals. We also plan to add a high-quality propane camp stove so that we can do some of our canning outside next year!

Stay cool without air conditioning: covered patio with chairs and bbq grill

During summer, a lot of our meals consist of fresh, cold foods. Salads make a perfect summer meal paired with other grilled or raw veggies from the garden! Platters of fresh sliced veggies, served with hummus or dill sauce, are a another summer favorite at our house!

If you absolutely must cook, try to cook during the cooler times, either early in the morning or late in the evening. I try to pick the coolest day each week and do all of my necessary cooking for the week. And don’t forget to use your range hood fan when you do cook! It will help exhaust the hot air produced by cooking. 

4. Landscape your way to a cooler house

Here’s your excuse to go buy more plants! Trees, shrubs and bushes can help block direct sunlight, provide shade and help circulate airflow to cool your house. This can be especially helpful on the West side of your home, which is generally the hottest due to the evening sun. Grasses and ground cover will also help reduce ambient heat. 

Arbor with flowers and trees and kitten sitting at gate

5. Work smarter & find a way to escape the heat

Without a doubt, there’s a lot of work to do on a homestead in the summer. But you gotta work smart when it’s hot out! Since it’s much harder to cool off when you don’t have air conditioning, it’s important to not overheat or overwork yourself. Try to plan your day so that the most physical outdoor chores are done in the mornings or evenings. Use the hot afternoons to do indoor chores or projects that aren’t physically intense. And of course, stay hydrated and dress appropriately for the weather!

Stay cool without air conditioning

Inevitably, there will be days when you get too hot! This is when you need a Plan B! For us, it’s the stock tank pool! In fact, the whole reason we created our stock tank pool was so that we could cool off on hot days after working outside. After hanging out in the pool for 15-20 minutes, we are generally re-energized, cooled off, and ready to get back to work! Having a way to cool off quickly is absolutely essential for your summer success!

How do you stay cool in the summer? Share your tips in the comments!


Pin these tips for later!
How to save money and stay cool without air conditioning!


  • Kaylee Vaughn

    Kaylee is the Founder of She has set up and run two homesteads, a one-acre in Idaho, and her current two-acre dream homestead in the Pacific North West. Her qualifications include a Permaculture Design Certification from Oregon State University, and she is a Gardenary Certified Garden Coach. Kaylee currently produces at least 80% of her own food. She contributes to our site through articles, training and coaching to our clients. You can read more about her at


Tuesday 12th of November 2019

This makes me think of how my grandparents and their parents probably had to get creative during the hot months! Texas is so hot that we actually stay in the air inside most of the day, because after 10 am my car doesn’t even fully cool down anymore =( I so appreciate this post, though! I love seeing how folks get creative with living sustainably.

Emily Maze

Thursday 1st of August 2019

Wow! What great tips! If only I could convince my husband... if it were up to me, we'd probably ditch the AC. There's just something peaceful about waking up to fresh air from opens windows! And I can deal with the heat!

Project Zenstead

Thursday 1st of August 2019

Maybe you can wean him off of it slowly ?

Chelsea Duffy

Wednesday 31st of July 2019

Great post! We don't have AC either, but we live in the PNW. While it used to not get too hot here in the summer, the past decade has seen some pretty hot Augusts! Most new homes are build with AC here, but our home is exactly 100 years old. Luckily, two trees have grown up quite a bit in the 7 years that we have lived here and they keep the house much cooler than it used to be! We have the window fans as well. I love them because you can easily change from blowing in to blowing out as needed. Mine even has a remote so I can adjust it from bed. They are our saving grace! I am with you on cooking outside. I grill so much of our food during that time. There is no way I want to stay inside with an oven on or stirring over a hot stove! We don't have a covered area for our grill, so we hung a sun sail between the house and our "barn". Works great!


Wednesday 31st of July 2019

Okay firstttt of all, WHO KNEW air could get to 106 in Boise?! Lol we’re in Texas so dry heat galore. Our electricity went out three times in one week for 12 hours at a time in the middle of July.. I wish I read this then! Lol thanks for the info — definitely storing it away for a no electricity day!

Project Zenstead

Wednesday 31st of July 2019

Ha! It's true - we get the summer heat AND the winter cold! So best of both worlds I guess? ? I can only imagine the Texas heat! ? Ugh! Hang in there and stay as cool as possible!

Tessa Zundel

Tuesday 30th of July 2019

These are great tips! I love the window fans and would use those all spring and fall. We get so humid in summer that I'd just be exposing us to too much wet. Mold is one of our major crops, ha, ha.

I don't think you're imagining it about acclimation. When we first moved to the South it was August and I, literally, no joke, thought I was going to die. Breathing outside was like putting water into my lungs and the heat was so oppressive. A few Augusts later and I was still alive. I realized that, while still hot and wet, the weather wasn't as oppressive. It should also be remembered that I'm a huge, huge wuss when it comes to summer. I'm the opposite of you guys - always hot!!