How I Keep My Tiny Apartment Cool Without Air Conditioning

The year 2018 is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record here in Ontario. It’s only the beginning of July and already there have been numerous days with extreme heat warnings and even heat-related deaths in the GTA.

It’s times like these that I wish (and so does the rest of the world) I had an air conditioner. I even know who I’d get to install it (if you live in the GTA, would definitely recommend you check out AtlasCare for air conditioning service — I’ve spend time with them on work-related assignments and they’re great.) Sadly, I live in an apartment without central air, and I have no room for a portable/window AC.

So how am I surviving in a tiny apartment without air conditioning? On the upside, it definitely helps that I live in a low-rise building and not a densely-populated tower. On the downside, I’ve managed to cram 100+ gallons of heated aquariums into my space, which constantly generate heat 24/7. That’s a challenge.

There’s no secret to staying cool without air conditioning — I just follow specific routine. It doesn’t cost me anything, and it makes a big difference.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Cover windows during the day
  2. Don’t turn on the oven
  3. Create a cross-breeze
  4. Turn on the ceiling fan
  5. Take cool showers

1. Cover Windows During the Day

Windows are a huge heat source on sunny days. I didn’t realize what a difference it makes until I started covering them up. Since my lease doesn’t let me put UV-blocking film on my windows, I block them best as I can with blackout curtains.

2. Don’t Turn on the Oven

The oven is another heat source you should actively avoid if you don’t have AC. It takes a long time for the heat generated from cooking to dissipate in a small space. Use the microwave instead. You’d be surprised how many things you can cook in a microwave (seriously, I cooked microwave pancakes the other day!)

3. Create a Cross-breeze

Once the clock strikes 6PM and the sun starts setting, I immediately open the windows at both ends of my apartment to create a cross-breeze. The cool breeze makes it so much easier to fall asleep in the summer (the ideal temperature for sleeping is between 15 to 19 degrees, according to science).

4. Turn on the Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans don’t actually create cool air, but the help by pushing warm air down to the floor and walls. It can make a world of difference in a small space. Make sure yours is spinning counterclockwise, or it’ll have the opposite effect!

5. Take Cool Showers

When you’re living in 450 square feet of space, taking a hot shower will warm up the whole apartment. Cool showers are the way to go in the summer. If you can’t stand cool water for long, I’d suggest taking a warm shower and making it as quick as possible.

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