So Your AC Went Kerplunk: Here's What to Do Next

by Team HomeServe
A small electric fan sits atop a mirrored accent table blowing across a white ceramic bowl full of ice.

HomeServe photo by Matt Schmitz

If you instinctively find yourself reaching for your thermostat when the temperature outside rises, you're not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, around 75% of homes in the United States have air conditioning, and the nation spends a whopping $29 million every year to keep their homes cool.

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Air conditioning is essential in many areas, so it can feel like a nightmare if you suddenly find yourself with a broken central air conditioner on your hands. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap DIY methods for making your home cooler and more comfortable while you wait for a repair.

What Are Some Ways to Keep My House Cool If My AC Breaks?

If you have a broken AC, but you still have a power supply to your home, one of the simplest ways to keep comfortable is to use electric or ceiling fans. Fans don't reduce the air temperature inside your home, but they encourage sweat to evaporate from your skin to make you feel cooler. If the temperature outside gets significantly cooler at night, you can try opening the windows and placing the fan in front of them to pull cool air inside your room.

If the weather is scorching and fans alone don't cut it, consider placing some ice in front of the fan to cool the air as it blows throughout the room. You could either fill a large bowl full of ice cubes or use a large container to make an ice block in the freezer.

If possible, it's also best to avoid using appliances that generate heat, especially during the hottest times of the day. Ovens and stoves are the most obvious sources of extra heat inside your home, but other appliances such as washers and dishwashers can also make an overly warm house even hotter.

Finally, consider using a portable AC unit or a window unit to cool down key areas of your home, like your bedroom or living area. Portable ACs aren't cheap, and purchasing one to tide you over for a couple of days while you wait for a repair may not be a cost-effective solution. However, it's worth asking around to see if someone can lend you one. Or, see if you can get a second-hand unit online.

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What Are Some Ways to Keep My House Cool If the Power Goes Out?

If your electricity supply is cut off, keeping your home cool can be more challenging. The first thing you might want to consider is to plug a window AC, portable AC or fan into your generator. This is probably the most comfortable option.

However, there are some methods you can use to keep yourself more comfortable that don't require electricity. They can also be used in addition to fans or portable ACs if you have a broken air conditioner.

First, wear clothing that's as light and breathable as possible. Placing towels that have been soaked in iced water out around your neck can help. You could also consider using a spray bottle full of cold water to spritz your skin and then cooling off with a handheld, battery-operated fan.

It's also worth taking steps to prevent the air inside your home from getting any hotter. While it may seem intuitive to throw the windows open when the temperature rises, this can actually allow more hot air inside if it's warmer outside than it is inside the house. Covering as many windows as possible with curtains or blinds can stop your house from turning into a greenhouse due to strong sunlight.