With temperatures soaring into triple digits, air conditioning is a necessity in Arizona. But, if you find yourself without a/c due to a broken air conditioner or other circumstances, you can still stay cool with a few simple tricks.
While these tips can help you in the short term, being without air conditioning during the Phoenix summers constitutes an A/C emergency. You should call for service as soon as possible to restore cool, comfortable air to your home.
In a home without air conditioning, you can rely on your ceiling fans to help. They can make you feel cooler with a wind-chill like effect that makes the room feel more comfortable. Make sure your ceiling fans are set to spin counterclockwise to create a cooling downdraft. If you’re not sure how to change the direction of your ceiling fan, check the base of the fan. Most fans have a switch that you can use to change the fan’s direction.
With the help of a desk fan and a bowl of ice cubes, you can create a DIY air conditioner in just a few minutes. Just place a large bowl of ice in front of the fan and sit in front of it. The fan will blow air over the ice to create an extra-chilled flow of air.
Your body needs water to avoid dehydration and maintain your body temperature. Without a/c, you’re likely to start sweating more, which makes it all the more important to replace the fluids your body is losing. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and avoid drinks like soda, juice, and tea that can dehydrate you faster. For an extra boost of hydration, you can opt for a sports drink like Gatorade to replenish your electrolytes.
Applying a cold compress to the back of your neck, your wrists, and the insides of your elbows can help bring down your body temperature. You can keep a rotating supply of wet, cold washcloths in the fridge to ensure you always have a cold compress available.
In order to keep your home cool without air conditioning, you’re going to need to block out as much sunlight and artificial light as possible. Turn off all but the most essential lights and keep your curtains, shades, drapes, or blinds closed. If your windows don’t have window treatments, you can use bedsheets or blankets as temporary curtains. You can secure them with duct tape or thumbtacks.
To keep the sun out of your home all year long, consider investing in blackout curtains. These curtains are designed to block most visible light, keeping your home cool, dark, and comfortable.
Large appliances and electronics add heat to your home while they’re running. This usually isn’t noticeable, but when you don’t have air conditioning, it can be counterproductive to have multiple heat sources raising the temperature even higher. Try and limit the use of your stove, oven, and dishwasher. Cooking is sure to generate heat, and choosing to eat chilled foods while your A/C is out can help you feel cooler.
When it comes to dressing for life without air conditioning, it’s best to keep your clothing options loose and light. Breathable materials like cotton, jersey, and linen are better than polyester, rayon, or wool. Activewear is also a great option for staying cool, as it is made with materials that absorb or wick away sweat.
Since heat rises, you want to sleep as low as possible. If your bedroom is on the second floor of your home, consider relocating to the downstairs while your air conditioner is broken. When it comes to pajamas, sleeping in light, breathable fabrics like cotton is going to feel most comfortable. Likewise, lightweight cotton sheets are going to have more of a cooling effect than polyester, satin, or silk sheets. You can also slightly dampen your sheets and pillowcases and place them in the fridge before you lay down for the night to help you feel nice and extra chilled.
If you know your home is going to be without air conditioning for a long time due to a repair or system replacement, you can plan to spend the day at a friend’s house, the library, or anywhere else where you can find cool air. In the case of sudden outages or emergencies, it may be worth paying for a hotel room nearby instead of spending the night in a hot stuffy house, or seeing if any neighbors would be willing to host you for the night.
When the summer temps are at their worst, heat-related illness can sneak up on even lifelong Arizonans. If your home is without air conditioning for a significant amount of time, keep an eye out for common signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion to prevent a medical emergency.
In the case of suspected heat exhaustion, start by moving the affected person to a cooler place if possible—or run them a cold bath to cool off. Get medical help right away if symptoms get worse, if vomiting occurs, or if symptoms last longer than one hour. Signs of heat exhaustion include:
If signs of heat exhaustion are not addressed, it can progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is a very serious condition. If you or one of your family members begins to show signs of heat stroke, call 911 right away.
Air conditioning emergencies always seem to strike at the worst times—fortunately, Chas Roberts is always here to help, with emergency services available 365 days a year. Even if problems arise in the middle of the night, on holidays, or on weekends, we’re only one call away. Contact us for emergency service, routine repairs, and everything in between.