10+ Ways to Stay Cool When Your Air Conditioner Is Out

When it’s hot and humid outside, how do you stay cool when your air conditioner is out?

It has happened to everybody. Even if you are meticulous with HVAC maintenance, sometimes an air conditioner can just stop.  Why? Air conditioners work overtime, and they don’t get a break for months. This is how an electrical part failure can bring everything to a standstill.

There are things you can check yourself if your AC is not cooling before you call an HVAC company. Chances are – you may have to wait for them to arrive if the weather is scorching.

Here are 10 ways to stay more comfortable in your home, if your air conditioner or heat pump is not working.

ceiling fan helps you stay cool

Ceiling fans can help you stay cool (Terry’s A/C & Heating photo)

Turn on a Fan (or Two)

Fans of every type can make you feel cooler. Portable fans are inexpensive and available nearly everywhere, including big box hardware stores.

Circulating air with a fan helps evaporate sweat from your skin, and this effect makes you feel cooler. It won’t cool the air, but it will help you lower your body temperature.

Depending on how warm and humid the air is that you are circulating, a fan can make the temperature feel several degrees cooler than it is through the wind-chill effect.

Pull Out a Portable Dehumidifer to Stay Cool

If you have a portable dehumidifier, you can fire these up to reduce the temperature indoors. Pair a dehumidifier with a ceiling fan to increase the cooling effect. This works best if you live in an area that has high humidity as we do on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Cover Your Windows and Keep External Doors Closed

Keep heat and humidity from coming in through windows and doors. This is why having black-out curtains, shades, and blinds are recommended. They can reduce the overall heat load on the house.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure you keep cool drinks on the menu, perhaps even more than usual. By keeping yourself hydrated, you will equip your body to better weather a warmer than usual indoor temperature.

Now is the time to break out those insulated water bottles such as RTIC Outdoor insulated drinkware. There are many insulated drinkware brands, but we use a lot of RTIC, a company based here in Houston.

Certain foods can also help you meet your hydration goals. Break out the watermelon!

Don’t Run Heat-Generating Appliances

If you can, don’t run the dryer, run your dishwasher, or use your oven while your air conditioner is out. If you do need to run them, run them at night when it is cooler outside.

Using heat-generating appliances can have the effect of making it hotter inside your home. A microwave, slow cooker, or Instant Pot, on the other hand, can generate less overall heat.

Do not forget that you can always go out to eat and dine in!

Consider Wearing Clothing Designed for Heat

Light-colored clothing with vents, a loose-fit and fabrics that wick moisture away can make a difference in comfort. You might see fabrics described as “cool touch” fabrics. We use HUK Gear to stay cool. Arctic Cool is another brand of clothing that is optimized to cool. There are many, many more.

Cooling towels and neck wraps are other ways that can help you beat the heat.

Invest in Bedding Items to Keep Cool

Believe it or not, staying cool at night is a big business. You can purchase mattresses, mattress toppers and pillows that are cool to the touch.

Cooling bedsheets that wick away moisture are another way to combat the heat. Another brand of luxury, cooling sheets I’ve personally used are linen sheets made in America from Linoto. Note: You might just keep these bedroom upgrades even when the AC is working!

portable window ac helps you stay cool

Window units and portable AC units can keep you cool. (Terry’s A/C & Heating photo)

Plug In a Portable AC Unit

Window units or portable AC units that either sit on your window sill or sit on the ground next to a window can help you stay comfortable indoors. They may not be very efficient, but they can work in a pinch.

If you only have one, do not try to cool your entire home. Instead concentrate your efforts on cooling a small part of your home. Pick a room, start up your portable AC, and keep the door closed to keep the cool inside.

Go Swimming

Another way to stay cool in the summer is to find a public swimming pool, rent access to a swimming pool, or visit a water park in and around Houston and make it a “day at the pool.” Obviously that doesn’t work for everyone’s schedule, but my kids are a big fan of waterparks. One of our favorites is Splashway in Sheridan, Texas which is just a short drive away.

Find Another Air Conditioned Spot to Hang Out

It may go without saying that when the heat is on, sometimes the easiest thing to do is find a different place to hang out.  A public library, indoor shopping mall or coffee shop can fit the bill if you need a few hours of air conditioning. In our area, First Colony Mall in Sugar Land and Katy Mills Mall in Katy are both indoor malls and open early for mall walking.

If you have older or younger folks living in your home, you could even consider a hotel room for a night or two. The good part about that option is that they often come with the fringe benefit of having an outdoor pool. That’s two types of cool for the price of one!

Look Into a Swamp Cooler for Dry Climates

In very dry areas of the country, they may use an evaporative cooler or a “swamp cooler” indoors to keep a home cool.

You’ll experience evaporative cooling when you emerge from a swimming pool and every time you use a fan. You’ll also experience a cooling effect, if you sit on an outdoor patio next to a fan with a mister. When the water evaporates, it cools the air around it.

On the Texas Gulf Coast, we do not use these types of coolers inside the home because it’s simply already too humid.  Too much humidity makes it harder to perspire, which makes it feel muggy and hotter than it really is.

Again, we don’t use swamp coolers indoors in the Houston area, but you can use one or fans with misters if you’re out working in your garage or on your outdoor patio.

When Heat Becomes a Medical Issue

Too much heat can become a serious medical issue, especially for the very young, elderly, and those with certain kinds of medical conditions. Initially, heat can cause people to become irritable and upset because they are uncomfortable. We refer to that as the “heat talking.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration explains how to spot symptoms of heat-related illnesses. They have an app we recommend called “Heat Index,” a heat safety tool. The app shows the heat index, symptoms of heat illness, and first aid. It’s very important to address symptoms of heat illness before they progress. Hyperthermia is no laughing matter.

Air Conditioner Not Working in Fort Bend County?

If your air conditioner is not working and needs a repair, contact Terry’s A/C & Heating to schedule an HVAC service call.  If your air conditioner is not cooling, we can figure out the cause, determine if a repair is covered under warranty, and give you an itemized estimate for a repair to get your AC working again as fast as possible.

Find out about the areas around Richmond, Texas  and across Fort Bend County that we serve and learn how we are different from other HVAC companies. Our family-owned company looks forward to keeping your family cool for many seasons to come.

Photo credits: Header image, Canva.com/Robert Daly; Internal images of fan and AC unit from Terry’s A/C & Heating