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No air conditioner? Here are some other ways to cool down at home

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It’s scorching in Montana right now, and the heatwave is expected to last for days. While many are flipping on those air conditioners, there may be other ways to keep your house cool or to use the air conditioner less.

You probably already know the basics of keeping your house cool: Open the windows at night, pulling the shades in the morning to limit how much sun comes through the windows, But Amy Cilimburg with Climate Smart Missoula says there’s so much more you can do, starting with the age-old fan in the window trick.

“If you can put one fan in one window that blows the cool air in and another fan in another window that can blow out, you can provide cross ventilation that pulls that cool air in faster," said Cilimburg.

When it comes time to close the windows in the morning to trap that cool air inside, rather than just pulling the shades on the inside of your house, think about the outside as well.

“The biggest thing we can recommend is that anything you can do to have shade on the outside helps dramatically," Cilimburg said.

A pulldown shade or an awning around windows can block heat. So can foil window reflectors for cars or aluminum foil taped to cardboard.

Cilimburg says more time spent in a basement where it’s cooler or limiting oven or stove use can also help. That might not be enough to make your home tolerable during the hottest parts of the day.

She also says expensive central air, while nice, isn’t necessary. It’s more important to cool the room you spend the most time in. You can get a window a/c unit, or if you’re renting, a portable unit that sits on the floor, but when the temps dip at night, shut it off and let the cool breeze in.

"You can get an effective room air cleaner that you can make yourself for between $35 and $45," says Mechanical Engineer Tom Javins.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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