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How to cool down a room in a heatwave — 10 essential tips

A woman trying to keep cool in front of an electric fan
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It seems wherever you go, you can’t escape the heat at the moment. And with temperatures spiking across the globe, we’re feeling it pretty acutely this summer. The problem is, our homes will inevitably heat up with the high temperatures, causing difficulties working, problems with sleeping and even a lack of appetite. 

The good news is your hands aren’t tied if you’re missing an air conditioner. There are certain methods you can use to lower the temperature in your room and help you sleep better in a heatwave. And the good news is, you might already have what you need. Here’s how to cool down a room, even if you don’t have an ac. 

Be sure to also check out how to stay cool to get a better night’s sleep.

How to cool down a room  

A hand opening the blinds to show sunlight

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

1. Close your curtains to the sun — First of all, while we all love it when the sunlight comes flooding in, it’s not a good thing during a heatwave. This will actually heat up your home substantially, so close the curtains and blinds when subjected to direct sunlight — especially during the peak hours of the day. 

Blackout curtains or dark curtains are best for keeping the rays at bay, but any barrier will help here. Just remember to open them up again once the sunsets so you can better air your home at night.   

2. Leave windows open at night if you don't have AC — Following on from that, you need to watch when you open your windows. A cool breeze can be lovely, but if it’s hotter outside than in, you’re just letting in hot air. 

With that in mind, it’s best to keep windows shut during the day and open at night to let in a breeze and refresh your air. Keep doors open between rooms at night as well so the breeze can flow through your home.   

If you want to increase the effect of that night breeze, you can also set up fans or even the best air purifiers to help direct it around your room.   

You can also learn how to make your own DIY air conditioner to cool down your room.

Someone applying window film to a window

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3. Heat reducing window film — If you want to take steps to permanently reduce the heat in your room, you can always apply a heat reducing window film, such as the KESPEN Window Film ($27, Amazon (opens in new tab)). This is essentially a layer of film which sticks to your windows and reflects the heat back outside. These can also provide tinting which adds privacy as well. 

If you need a quick solution in the meantime, one of our writers also tried applying aluminium foil to the outside of his windows and found this had a similar effect, although it admittedly didn’t look as inconspicuous.  

4. Sleep smarter — Heat naturally rises, which is why the upstairs often feels hotter than the ground floor. If you’ve got a loft you’re not using, why not open up the hatch and let the heat rise even further? If your bedroom is on an upper level, this can help cool it down.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a loft, why not sleep at a lower level to reduce the temperature. A basement can be ideal during heatwaves, or even moving your mattress to the floor can make a difference.

A ceiling fan

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5. Change your ceiling fan setting — The direction in which your ceiling fan rotates actually makes a difference. Ideally you want it to be rotating counter clockwise through the summer to create a downdraft. Whereas clockwise rotation is best used in the winter because it’s better at distributing the warm air around the room. Make sure you’re using the right setting, otherwise your ceiling fan could be making things worse.  

6. Hang up wet sheets — Want to get your washing done and cool your room down at the same time? Simply run your bed sheets through the washing machine, but don’t dry them in the dryer. Instead, hang them up in front of open windows around your room. 

As the breeze comes in the damp sheets will add a cooling effect to it and help bring down the temperature.    

A bowl of ice

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7. Place ice water in front of the fan — If you hold your hand near ice, the air itself feels nice and chilled. You can take advantage of that if you fill a bowl with ice or chilled water and place it in front of your fan. Think of it as a DIY air conditioner. You can even use an ice pack if you don’t want to waste the ice. 

If you’re short of a fan, check to see if you’ve got a space heater lying around. Believe it or not, a lot of the best space heaters double up as fans so you get two appliances in one. You might have a fan to hand without knowing it.  

8. Switch off lights or switch to LED — If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, these will be generating a lot of unnecessary heat in your home. Switch them off when not in use, or simply upgrade them to LED. These bulbs are more energy efficient and produce brighter results as well as less heat.

Take a look at some of the best smart light bulbs if you want to include them in your smart home regime.  

Woman sleeping on her side

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

9. Invest in cooling bedding — It might sound unrealistic, but cooling bedding does actually work and if you struggle to sleep in the heat, it’s definitely worth your consideration. You can buy cooling pillows as well as cooling mattress protectors which chill and refresh your skin on contact. For instance, we tested the Casper Foam Pillow with Snow Technology, and it definitely delivered on its cooling claims. 

Some of the best mattresses even have cooling qualities, so you can upgrade your entire bed to suit the summer months. At the very least, if you’re struggling to sleep in the heat, you should consider swapping out your duvet to a thinner one — this can make a world of difference.    

10. Buy an air conditioner — If you’re truly struggling in the heat, and it’s not the first time, perhaps it is best to take the plunge and invest in an air conditioner. You don’t have to go the whole hog and install a wall or window-mounted model, portable options exist such as the BLACK+DECKER 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner ($299, Amazon (opens in new tab)).

You can also check out our top 7 deals to help you stay cool and beat the heat.

Make sure you take advantage of the best air purifiers during this time as well. Most will double up as fans, so if you have one, use it. For more ways to beat the heat, check out our 7 tips for staying cool in a heat wave.


For more tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out 15 water saving tips to lower your bills, 10 ways to lower your energy bills this summer and 15 things you should never put in a washing machine.

Looking for more beat the heat tips? Check out our 5 tips for watering your lawn in a heat wave.


Katie Mortram
Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be stand mixers as she loves to bake in her spare time.