How To Stay Cool During a Heatwave Without Central Air Conditioning

Tips for keeping cool while also having a lot of fun!
How To Stay Cool During a Heatwave Without Central Air Conditioning

As someone originally from the East Coast, I am well-versed in heatwaves. But I’ve always had air conditioning to get through it. But here in Washington, I’ve found that most homes don’t have a/c because it didn’t always get super hot. As every summer gets hotter and hotter due to climate change, i’ve had to learn how to stay cool during a heatwave… without central air conditioning! So today I wanted to share a few of the ways we do so, while also having a little bit of fun along the way.

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CENTRAL AIR? I DONT KNOW HER 🫠 Over 100 degrees all week long here in the North Cascades in Washington… and our cabin doesn’t have air conditioning ☀️ these easy hacks help us stay cool — and YES the portable a/c unit is an investment but the only way I can sleep when its super hot! #heatwavehacks #cabinlife #northcascades #pnwsummer2022 #staycoolpnw

♬ Do You Believe in Magic – The Lovin’ Spoonful

A Few Ways We Stay Cool During a Heatwave — Without Central Air Conditioning!

As much as we want to invest in a mini split to get some air conditioner action in our cabin, it just isn’t in the budget these days. So until then, we make do! This is our second summer in the cabin, so we’ve learned a few heatwave hacks. Here are a few recommendations we swear by:

How to stay cool during a heatwave without central air conditioning including the best inflatable pool, chicken pool floats, a chilly pad cooling towel, portable air conditioner and more!

Get a pool!

During our Heat Dome heatwave last year, Sean and I set up this affordable pool in our yard and I quickly became obsessed with it! This is honestly my #1 tip just because I love it so much.

Since it will be in the 100s this week, I take a dip every few hours and then come back to my office to keep working. It’s amazing how much cooler I feel just by doing this one thing.

But also, it’s just so nice to have the ability to float and ‘swim’ at home… all without the major investment and undertaking of installing a real pool. Oh and you can get fun floaties, like these chicken pool floats!

How to stay cool during a heatwave without central air conditioning including the best inflatable pool, chicken pool floats, a chilly pad cooling towel, portable air conditioner and more!

Try a Chilly Pad cooling towel

I used to keep a wet towel in the fridge and use that to cool down during heatwaves. But now that I have this cooling towel, it’s so much better! I love that it doesn’t drip all over me, while keeping me comfortable and cool.

Sean also works outdoors all day, so it’s amazing for him, too. It stays cool for a pretty long time and doesn’t drip.

How to stay cool during a heatwave without central air conditioning including the best inflatable pool, chicken pool floats, a chilly pad cooling towel, portable air conditioner and more!

Invest in a portable air conditioning unit

While I realize that a portable air conditioner is a big ticket item, but to me it’s worth it because it ensures I get a good night’s sleep. I really struggle to sleep when it’s really hot, so even just setting it to 70 degrees helps a lot. I also find it necessary because it means that we have a place for our elderly dog, Noodle, to stay cool when it’s over 80 degrees in the rest of the house.

How to stay cool during a heatwave without central air conditioning including the best inflatable pool, chicken pool floats, a chilly pad cooling towel, portable air conditioner and more!

Rotate fans depending on time of day

During the day, I don’t want our fans to pull hot air in through the windows. So instead, I have them circulate the cooler air that’s already inside the house.

Then, as soon as it’s cooler outside than in the house, I move the fans to the windows to pull in that cooler air. It’s sort of a constant dance, but I swear it works!

Other things we do around the house to keep cool:

  • We put tarps over our skylights and secure them with bricks to provide shade in our living room. Otherwise it will quickly become a greenhouse!
  • I also cover my more delicate plants in my garden with shade cloth and double my waterings.
  • We freeze bottles of water and put them in all water sources for our pets.
  • If you don’t have a chilly pad, wet some washcloths and pop them in the fridge or even freezer then put them on your head, around your neck, or on your chest to cool down.
  • Make extra efforts to stay hydrated. One of my favorite ways is to blend frozen fruit with ice cubes into a slushy texture. I keep that in my Yeti tumbler and sip all day. It’s fantastic.
How to stay cool during a heatwave without central air conditioning including the best inflatable pool, chicken pool floats, a chilly pad cooling towel, portable air conditioner and more!

What other ways do you keep comfortable when it’s really hot out? I’d love your recommendations on how to stay cool during a heatwave! Leave a comment and let me know.

Photography & styling by Jojotastic.

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Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest digital influencer and former textile designer with an eye for beautiful things. Jojotastic is a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress home, interior styling, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style.

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