9 Air Conditioner Alternatives: Substitutes for Cooling

Central air conditioners cool our environment and keep us comfortable. However, they are not very eco-friendly and are costly to install and maintain.

What we need in this case is an air conditioner alternative! Fortunately, there are plenty of options available. Let’s take a look at the nine best substitute cooling solutions.

9 Best Air Conditioner Alternatives

1. Cold Washcloth

Summer can be tough — heatwaves can occur and make people sick. Unfortunately, people living in apartments and small spaces may not have the resources to turn the AC thermostat down. One alternative to this problem is to use an age-old trick.

  • Get a washcloth and soak it in water
  • Turn it into a U-shape and place it in your freezer
  • Take it out when it is frozen and use it as a neck support
  • And you will enjoy the cold for around an hour

It works well in Florida and Texas, where you may find it hard to sleep without adjusting the AC to its lowest temperature setting. With a washcloth providing you instant heat relief, you can comfortably sleep without worrying about a massive energy bill.

  • Readily available
  • No extra costs
  • No device needed
  • Easy to reuse
  • Sheets and shirts getting wet
  • Short term solution

2. Cold Shower

To reduce your summer energy bills, you must have an air conditioner alternative to cool down. A straightforward option is to take regular cold showers.

You can reduce the need for central air conditioning by integrating these baths into your daily schedule. For example, take a cold shower when you return home from work, giving you more time before you need to turn the AC on.

Another benefit of cold showers is that it doesn’t tax your water heater. You don’t need a warm bath when it’s above 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside. You may turn your heater off in the summer months and enjoy the cold bath sessions twice a day.

  • Reduced heating bill
  • Reduced fan needs
  • Feels nice
  • No extra cost
  • Water availability
  • Condensate tank needs draining

3. Personal Fans

Do you sit on your home workstation and need some fresh air? A personal fan will provide you with a breeze and make it comfortable. These types of fans use minimal electricity and can often be powered using USB connections.

You don’t have to turn your central AC on a moderately warm day. Instead, by just improving the temperature of your sitting area, you can enjoy the benefit of cheap cooling. These fans are also easier to use in hard-to-reach places.

Small fans are excellent for people that suffer from breathlessness. They are portable and offer cost-effective cooling. Personal fans also provide instant relief.

Related Article Fan Vs Air Conditioner

  • Miniature
  • Portable
  • Plug and play
  • Easy to store
  • Need to be close to it
  • Inefficient
  • May break down

4. Room Fans

Room fans are coming back strong in homes. They are among the top alternatives to central air conditioners when it comes to most houses. These fans come in different trims and also serve as room extra décor.

Room fans keep the air circulating, thus making the room cool. Room fans come in varieties like ceiling fans, bracket fans, and box fans. They stop dust from settling on furniture and reduce the need for AC cooling.

Related Article Fans That Cool Like An AC

  • Comfortable air
  • Separate use
  • Lower energy bill
  • Decorative options
  • No active cooling
  • Often need multiple fans
Ceiling Fan

5. Whole House fans

A whole house fan is a cheap alternative to air conditioner solutions for homes. It works by creating positive air pressure in the attic, forcing warm air outside the house. Cool breeze gets sucked in through the windows, creating a draught in the house.

A whole house fan is a perfect solution to traditional air conditioners that only work well by closing the windows. Its use reduces the need for lighting and completely changes the air composition of the house.

Related Article Whole House Fan Reviews

  • It affects the entire home
  • Fresh air
  • Away from sight
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Passive cooling
  • May cause heat loss
  • Can be noisy

6. Evaporative Air Coolers

Evaporative air coolers are a perfect RV air conditioner alternative. They work well in desert regions. Swamp coolers dampen and cool the air by adding water vapor.

Air coolers come in different shapes and sizes. The list includes personal ones, room coolers, meaning you can always find a perfect one for your home space.

Evaporative coolers do not need any chemical refrigerants hazardous to the environment to work.

Related Article Swamp Cooler Reviews

  • Inexpensive
  • No refrigerant
  • No installation needed
  • Easy to move
  • Inefficient in humid conditions
  • Can make it excessively humid

7. Mini Split Air Conditioners

Mini-splits are ductless air conditioners that are among the best alternatives to central air conditioner units. They have separate outer compressors and inner fan units, ensuring a much better temperature zone control, reducing the need for several vents and air ducts.

Mini-split systems are perfect for multi-family homes. They work well in buildings that may have small, separate apartments. Tubing and electrical connections join the inner and outer AC units. The condensate drain pipe ensures that water vapors can leave the room, keeping it dry.

Mini-split air conditioners allow temperature zones, especially in separate units in a building. They are also easier to install in cramped spaces as they only require a hole of 3-inch diameter. Furthermore, less insulation is needed for the system, which improves energy efficiency.

Related Article Mini Split Vs Central AC

  • No air ducts
  • Ideal for apartments
  • Good for confined spaces
  • Less insulation required
  • Expensive
  • Condensation removal

8. Window Air Conditioners

These air conditioners are installed in windows and are perfect for cooling small, standalone rooms and living areas. If you switch to a new home and cannot afford to install the central AC unit, window air conditions may present the best solution.

These fixed air conditioners need space behind the wall where energy transfer can take place. Additionally, window units are inexpensive compared to other air conditioner options.

They are a perfect temporary fix when the landlord wouldn’t invest in an expensive central unit. Besides, they are easier to install by simply fixing them in the window’s place. You can also take them out to your new home when your lease expires.

Related Article Window AC Vs Central AC

  • Quick fit in rooms
  • Zone control
  • Inexpensive
  • No air ducts
  • Need access to a window
  • More maintenance
Window AC

9. Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are great for cooling individual rooms. They have wheels and are easy to move around the house. They are perfect for quickly setting up a cooling solution in any area.

They are portable air conditioner alternatives, much better than window air conditioners and mini-splits when you move around the property a lot. It works well in large homes where air conditioning needs may change frequently.

Related ArticlePortable AC Vs Window AC

  • Easy to move
  • Good for separate areas
  • No installation needed
  • Easy to store
  • Inefficient
  • Need window ventilation
  • Condensate tank needs draining

Other Simple Ways To Stay Cool Without An AC

  • Close Curtains During The Day
    If you have east-facing windows, it is best to keep them covered during the day. Close the curtains or blinds and ensure that your house doesn’t conduct heat from the outside. You can also use dark-colored curtains on such windows to minimize heat transfer.
  • Keep Doors Closed
    If you have a large house, keeping the doors of rooms and sections closed will keep it colder for longer. Ideally, block off all unwanted spaces and use a suitable alternate air conditioner to stay cool.
  • Switch To LED Lights
    Inefficient lighting is often responsible for heat buildup in houses. Switching the LED lights reduces this heat and ensures that you can lower your air conditioning needs. You can then pair this technique with suitable alternate AC options.
  • Use Cotton Linens
    People should switch to comfortable and breathable linens in summer. Low-thread cotton is ideal in such scenarios and can help sleep on warm nights. In addition, lighter cotton clothes don’t retain heat and allow people to sleep well without central air conditioning.
  • Drink More Water
    Staying hydrated ensures that your body can cool itself effectively. It reduces your alternative air conditioner requirements. Your body perspires in summer, so drinking more water replaces your water loss.
  • Use Exhaust Fans
    The kitchen and bathrooms may suffer from heat and moisture buildup in the summer months. Consequently, they can increase your energy bill. Using exhaust fans to remove this warm, moist air will keep your house considerably cooler.
  • Cook Early
    Avoid cooking during the day to ensure reduced heat production in the house. It is among the most straightforward tips that you can follow to stay cool. Cooking early in the morning will reduce your overall cooling needs making it easier to keep cool without turning the air conditioning to full.
How to Stay Cool Without AC

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How cool should my house be if it’s 100 outside?

It depends on your personal preference. Ideally, your thermostat should never be more than 20 degrees lower than the temperature outside for efficient heat refusal. You should keep your thermostat at 80 degrees, which will make the house comfortable.

How fast should the AC cool?

Your home temperature should come at the desired temperature set on the thermostat in not more than half an hour. If the AC is performing slower, you should contact an air conditioning professional. Of course, if you’re expecting a massive temperature decrease (say from 80F to 72F, this could take some more time).

What temperature should I keep in my house?

The ideal temperature in summer is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, it should remain around 10 to 25 degrees less than the ambient temperature in summer. Lowering it any further will result in higher energy bills and higher maintenance costs.

Why is my AC cooling so slow?

AC cooling slows down for several reasons, including wrong setting, clogged filter, faulty unit, and air leaks. Contact an AC installation and service professional to check your air conditioner to find all the underlying issues.


Portable and window air conditioners are suitable alternatives to central air conditioning units. You can also use electric fans in different parts of the house to improve air circulation.

You can also try taking cold showers and using dark curtains to keep cool without using an air conditioner. However, the best way to find a cheap alternative to air conditioner is to hire a professional to evaluate your summer cooling needs.

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with DIY and improving my family home. HVAC topics can be tricky for homeowners so I decided to share my knowledge on the subject. When I am not working on DIY projects, you can find me at the beach or my local coffee shop.