woman fanning herself on couch

5 Heatwave Home Survival Tips

If your air conditioner fails during a heatwave, your primary objectives are to keep heat out of your home and to keep your body cool until a technician can repair your AC system. We’ve compiled the advice below to help you through this exact scenario. These tips are also useful for reducing how often you’ll need to run your air conditioner, which can save you a lot of money during hot summers!


Whether you’re waiting for an AC repair technician or trying to lower your summer energy bill, these cooling tips and tricks will help improve your overall comfort during a heatwave.

1. Close Your Window Coverings

Your home can gain a lot more heat through uncovered windows than you might think. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that 76% of the sunlight that streams in through standard, double-pane windows becomes heat inside your home! Avoid letting in warmth by closing the curtains and blinds of any windows and glass doors that get direct sunlight.

Pro Tip: Energy-efficient window attachments are especially effective at lowering solar heat gain. Some types (like Roman blinds and insulated cellular shades) also reduce your home’s heat loss during winter!

2. Get Your Fans Going

Electric fans won’t remove heat from your home’s air the way your air conditioning system does. However, they can make your body feel cooler by producing a wind chill effect. What’s more, they use a tiny fraction of the energy that your air conditioner uses, making them more cost-effective to operate.

Pro Tip: Make your ceiling fans rotate in a counterclockwise motion to make your rooms feel colder. Make your ceilings fans rotate clockwise during winter to make your rooms feel warmer.

3. Avoid Producing Any Extra Heat and Humidity

Several appliances and electronics can add unnecessary heat and moisture to your home. Avoid meals that require your stove or oven. If you would like to use your dishwasher, switch its settings to a non-heated dry cycle to avoid adding more warmth and humidity to your home’s air. Similarly, running loads of laundry can also increase your home’s moisture levels, so try to delay doing the laundry until the weather cools off in the evening. Remember: humid air takes longer to cool than dry air.

4. Stay hydrated.

Staying well-hydrated makes you feel more refreshed and helps keep your body temperature balanced. When you’re burning up, ice water will be the best thing to drink to cool down fast. You may want to avoid drinks that are diuretics (such as caffeinated or alcoholic beverages). These beverages increase your need to use the restroom and can dehydrate you faster than you replenish yourself with more fluids.

5. Put ice packs or cold, wet cloths on pulse points.

Your body’s pulse points are areas where you can easily feel your pulse: your neck, wrists, crooks of your elbows, backs of your knees, etc. By cooling down these specific places, you’ll feel cooler overall. Place cold, wet cloths or ice packs wrapped on cloth in these areas--just don’t overdo it. WebMD recommends keeping the cold packs there for only 20 minutes at a time.


Most air conditioning system failures can be spotted before they occur. Technicians are usually able to see potential issues while performing preventive maintenance on AC units. This gives you the advantage of repairing a small issue before a heatwave arrives and before the small issue becomes a larger, more expensive one. Additionally, poorly maintained systems have to work harder to meet cooling demands, which results in higher operating costs, a decline in performance, and a higher chance of a system failure.

Looking for reliable emergency AC repair in Northern Virginia? HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited is ready to help, 24/7! Call our caring team at (703) 454-5040 for a quick response.