Keeping Cool in Summer

The summer may be several months away just yet, but it's never too early to be thinking about how you are going to be keeping cool when the temperature soars.

It's all fine and dandy if your home is equipped with a whole house air conditioning and ventilation system as you won't be too concerned with much apart from wondering how you are going to keep paying those ever increasing power bills that your power sapping monster makes it massive contribution to.

It may make you wonder if it is worth ditching the whole system and thinking about the alternatives.

Cooling Alternatives

keeping coolThere are cooling alternatives? Yes there are!

Of course, there are no truly free alternatives to air conditioning to keep cool in the hot summer months, but there are some that are less expensive to buy and to run than a massive HVAC system.

One of them is to get a portable aircon unit that can cool one room at a time, which is great if you live in a small apartment or a small house and you don't have a large (or even a small) family. You can simply move the unit from room to room as you go and keep cool when those temperatures are way too high to be comfortable.

There are several types of portable unit that can do a great job of keeping you cool. Most still need to be vented to the outside and they use a hose that you can trail out through an open window. But you have to plug the gap in the window with something or that hot vented air will come right back at you!

Swamp Coolers

You can also get portable devices that don't need venting, but they only work when the humidity is very low. These are often called ventless air conditioners, but are more correctly known as swamp coolers, or evaporative coolers.

They work by pumping air across a wet membrane that cools the air by evaporation.

If the humidity in a room gets too high, then the effect is lost and there is no more cooling effect. But if you live in a place that has very low humidity, these babies can drop the temperature in a room by as much as 20-30 degrees, which is a massive difference.

Why Buy a Ventless Air Conditioner?

So why would you want to buy a ventless portable air conditioner to cool your home or office?

Well, they are more economical to run for sure because they are designed to cool only the room they occupy. Swamp coolers also use around 1/20th the amount of electricity that a similar size air conditioner does.

Portable Air Conditioner (With a Vent)

That also means even a regular portable AC will only use a fraction of the power that a larger "whole house" or HVAC system uses, where most of it is wasted if most of the rooms in your home are going to unoccupied.

If there are only one or two people living in the house or apartment, then it doesn't really make economic sense to cool the whole house. So a portable unit or two can make a great and cost effective alternative to larger systems.

You can also buy self evaporating portable air conditioning units that provide even better efficiency and economy. Also, these AC units do not need to be drained every week or so, making them lower maintenance appliances.

Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

You can, believe it or not, stay relatively cool without any form of air conditioning or evaporative cooling as long as you follow some common sense tips.

First, make sure there is plenty of shade around your home. Awnings, roof overhangs, covered porches etc. all provide useful shade, as do large trees. If you can keep the direct rays of the sun off the walls of your home, it will be several degrees cooler than a building without any shade.

You can also paint the walls white. Light colors and especially white reflect heat better than darker colors, contributing less heat absorption of the masonry and thereby helping to maintain a cooler indoor temperature.

Regular fans help to move air around, but they don't actually cool the air. You feel cool when you're in the air stream because the perspiration on your skin evaporates to create a cool feeling.

However, it is still useful to move air around the home during hot weather to circulate fresh air and help to expel stale air with windows open a little to allow air movement.


The cheapest way to stay cool is to rely on shading and ordinary fans, although this may not be enough on the very hottest days.

A swamp cooler is the next low cost option but this will only work in dry climates. Humidity will reduce the cooling ability and anything over 50% humidity will render even a big swamp cooler little better than a big fan.

For areas with higher humidity, an air conditioning unit or system may be the only viable cooling solution that will work in most hot weather. It will cost more to run, but you need to balance this cost against the need for some level of comfort during the summer heat.