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Don’t Have AC? Here’s How to Stay Cool & Unboiled This Summer

Let fresh linen sheets, a Dyson air conditioner-purifier, and a wearable fan teach you how to stay cool without AC this summer.
how to stay cool without ac with an air conditioner fan pillow
Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

From one boiled egg to another: It doesn’t have to be this way [takes mayonnaise bath]. We do not have to boil to death in our apartments, especially if we haven’t schlepped up the AC unit yet.  A whole spectrum of comfort exists between “crawdaddy boiling” and “ice toes” when it comes to matters of the seasons—even if you don’t have central air. There lies a place in-between, where totally competent, comfortable coping exists when learning how to stay cool without AC.

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Sure, nothing slaps like a fresh Frigidaire AC unit, or an apartment with central AC (we dream, we dream). But cool linen sheets and the habit of rubbing ice cubes on your wrists’ pulse points makes a big difference; a strategically placed fan, positioned by a low-light window, can [cargo pant Dad voice] improve your whole cross-ventilation situation a lot, champ. 

You don’t have to feel like a kebab on the spit when you wade through your home. That sensation is reserved for winter, or anal bead play. You just need to make a few summertime tweaks to feel a little less awful, even if you don’t have a sophisticated home cooling system. Rube Goldberg that jazz with ice packs, standing fans (that also purify your air), and a better set of blinds. 

Welcome to your iced out, Super Soaker baptism.

The best wearable AC neck fans

I have a proposition for the communists: Dip into your Dogecoin purse for a portable neck fan robot, because you need more than just big brother breathing down your neck. Imagine the look on your friends’ faces when you wear it to lunch on a heatwave day, and order French Onion Soup because you have the Cadillac of portable face glaciers, a.k.a. the Coolify portable air conditioner neck fan by TORRAS. There are many neck fans on the market, but not all of them are bladeless, and even fewer get as icy cold as the Coolify, which has 36 air vents, and a special cooling strip that sits on the back of your neck that the folks at TORRAS say can lower your body temperature by 18°F in just three seconds. “I know it cost more than the usual neck fans out there but you definitely get what you pay for,” writes one Amazon reviewer, “YES it really does get cold, it works y'all!!”


$149 at Amazon

$149 at Amazon
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This portable neck fan by DGLK is one of the best budget neck fan picks on Amazon with over 1,000 reviews, and many chilled-out folks praising its ability to provide some breezy relief for a low price tag. “Being a woman of a certain age,” writes one fan of le fan, “cool air is a must; this slice of heaven did not disappoint.” Reviewers do mention that it’s a little louder than luxury neck fans such as the TORRAS, but who cares? We’re here to get icy, not whisper.


$23.98 at Amazon

$23.98 at Amazon

Stay at half-mast

It may run contrary to our instincts, to close the windows and shut the blinds, but doing so can help keep heat out of your apartment. You are going to need a fresh air flow in your apartment, and if you only have a single window keeping it closed might not be an option, so here’s an idea: get some roman shades (they’ll look great with your Japandi furniture) and roll them down three fourths of the way. We love a natural wood finish, but these also come in white, which will repel the heat even better. 


$53.46$40.13 at Wayfair

$53.46$40.13 at Wayfair

Want the look of linen shades, but don’t want to shell out all of your hard-earned clams? Go for a flax set, such as this one with almost 2,000 reviews on Amazon, and top marks for its easy installation and au natural vibe. “It is opaque but light filtering. When pulled down, you cannot see in or out, either in day or night time,” writes one fan.

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$41.99 at Amazon

$41.99 at Amazon

This epic Dyson fan is on sale

It’s always a bummer sacrifice one of our windows to our AC unit, but we do it because we don’t want to turn our bedrooms into a Crockpot. Given that most window AC units cost a few hundred dollars anyways, investing in a Dyson cooling—and purifying—fan system is one of those things you will thank yourself for immediately, and in six years. It removes gases, 99.97% of allergens and pollutants as small as 0.3 microns, and it has a delightfully unimposing presence; a svelte, cool wall-mouth with a remote control that looks like an iPod shuffle. Wouldn’t it make a handsome couple with your Roomba


$399.99$299.99 at Dyson

$399.99$299.99 at Dyson

You still use traveller’s checks

What is this? A 1940s film noir? Own the fact that you love the classics, because you can’t really go wrong when you return to pieces with timeless design. You’re perfectly content sitting at a desk with a fan that looks like it fell off Amelia Earhart’s plane—and you know what? An old fashioned fan does help, and isn’t an eyesore. “The oscillating feature moves smoothly, no ticks or clicks,” writes one Amazon reviewer of this Hunter fan, “The retro style looks so cool! It’s like a very tiny version of a fan my grandmother had in the 50s.” (Only this one comes with a USB port.)


$26.99 at Amazon

$26.99 at Amazon

A fan with a fully developed personality

Who needs new friends, when you have a standing fan that looks like a dapper human out of the right corner of your eye, at the right time of night? There’s a degree of self-loathing most aesthetes/Libras have when they look at a fuggo home appliance amongst all their beautiful home decor. That’s just not the case here. This fan hits that mid-century vintage note, but not in a way that feels too kitsch, and (fun fact) it was an extra in Cars.

$269 at Amazon
$399 at West Elm
$269 at Amazon
$399 at West Elm
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A window fan that takes up little space 

We love a self-aware appliance. This transom fan knows you really don’t want to put a massive AC unit in your window, so it took off its top hat and elevator shoes to fit riiiiight in there at a fraction of the height (and price) of a jumbo unit. And it doesn’t just blow in fresh air, but sucks out stale air. Kind of like a snake plant

$94.99 at Amazon
$99.98 at Home Depot
$99.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond
$94.99 at Amazon
$99.98 at Home Depot
$99.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Your sheets might be “suffocating” your pores

Dude. Your poly-blend sheets are the equivalent of rubbing your body in Vaseline, or making sheets out of Hefty trash bags. There is very little breathing room for your pores. Linen, however, is one of the most naturally breathable cooling materials out there. Just look at everyone’s outfits in Jurassic Park (top marks go to the grandpa in that all-white ensemble). Replacing your sheets can be costly, but it’s a smart investment when you consider how much time we spend asleep. Trust us, they’re worth it


$41.99 at Amazon

$41.99 at Amazon

$219$139.90 at Quince

$219$139.90 at Quince

$279$251.10 at Buffy

$279$251.10 at Buffy

I’m your private dancer

Any old music will do. This Vornado (say it with me) has the swagger of a Sky Dancer (IYKYK) that spent a few years learning pole and drinking with Drake, and we love it. “It packs a lot [of] power in such a compact tower,” says one reviewer, “It also runs very quiet.”

$64.99 at Amazon
$67.84 at Walmart
$99.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond
$64.99 at Amazon
$67.84 at Walmart
$99.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond
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A second skin

If you live alone, or have a very tolerable roommate, you likely know the joys of putting your underwear/pillow cases in the freezer. This meaty cloth is an upgrade from that logic, and “[uses] high grade and extra thick PVA with evaporative technology” to keep itself cool after being submerged and wrung out with cold water. “The more water it comfortably holds,” say its ice lairds, “the longer it takes to evaporate, which means the longer it stays cool for you.” 


$5.97 at Amazon

$5.97 at Amazon

When it’s a million degrees outside, there’s nothing quite like replacing your face with a face that’s made out of icicles and permafrost to give you a re-set. This gel face and eye mask duo has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, where users say it has helped everything from overheating to migraines and headaches. And it kind of makes you look like Shrek, which is a plus.


$19.99 at Amazon

$19.99 at Amazon

This might be cheating, but it’s worth it

A big multi-tasker. This genre of air conditioner is more (easily) portable than those chonky AC window units, which already makes it less of a commitment and hassle if/and/when we move, and it not only cools but circulates and dehumidifies the air in your room. No more swamp ass! 

$349.95 at Amazon
$339 at Home Depot
$349.95 at Amazon
$339 at Home Depot

Go eat a cold bowl of fruit, and don’t forget to stay hydrated


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