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How to Make a Fan Blow Cold Air (What to do instead)

It’s summer, it’s burning up—you’re burning up—and no matter how high you turn your fan, it hardly seems to be doing a thing. I’ve been there, and as someone who hates hot weather, I know I’m always wondering what I can do to beat the heat.

If you’re here, you’re likely wondering if you can make your fan more effective at cooling you down. Unfortunately, your fan is actually pretty limited in what it can do to keep things cool, but there are several other methods you can try that require little to no effort on your part. Some of them do involve making use of your fan, and others don’t!


Fans can’t blow cold air. They only redistribute air cooled by other means. Instead, take advantage of the fan’s wind chill effect, drink cold water, pull cold night air inside, cool off in the shower, target pulse points, use a dehumidifier, and limit how heat enters the house.

Fans Can Only Redistribute Cold Air

What many people don’t know is that while fans can help keep you cool in hot weather, they don’t actually produce any cold air of their own.

They can produce wind chill, which encourages your body to release heat, but it does not make the air around you any colder.

Fans can only redistribute existing air.

While there’s no means of making a fan itself blow cold air, it is possible to make use of a fan’s ability to move air in conjunction with a source of cold air in order to distribute it more effectively.

HVAC or Mini-Split

Some houses aren’t set up in a way that allows them to effectively distribute cool air to every part of the home. 

If that’s the case for you, you can set up a fan or two near the closest cold-air output—that would likely be the output from your HVAC or mini-split.

Air-conditioning unit with a stand fan

From here, you can direct the fans so that they are facing away from the source of cold air and angle each fan so that it blows towards the rooms and corners of your home that don’t normally get cooled well.

Colder Areas (Basement and Outdoors)

You can use a fan to blow cold air from natural sources as well, not just from an HVAC.

A basement is naturally cooler than the rest of the home, for a number of reasons. You can place a fan or two in the basement to blow cold air up out the basement door, and place another fan at the top of the stairs to direct the cold air in the direction you want.

Of course, there are other methods of moving cold air upstairs out of your basement, but the extra boost from a fan can certainly help move things along!

Let’s not forget that the outdoors can be cooler than your home, too- especially at night. When the temperatures drop and your home has yet to catch up, you can cool down the home by opening a few windows.

We’ll go into more detail below about how to effectively pair a fan with an open window.

Don’t Bother With Other Methods

There are a lot of things that won’t work well to cool you down in the long run. I’ve seen people suggest wet towels, humidifiers, and bowls of ice.

Wet towels will just increase the room’s humidity. Humidifiers will increase the humidity and the temperature. Bowls of ice might work to a certain extent but on such a small scale that you’d do better putting the ice into a drink.

Even some things that can work won’t do so if they aren’t used “properly.” Let’s discuss some of the methods that do work, and how you can make use of them!

Alternative ways to keep cool

Alternative Ways to Keep Cool

1. The Fan Can Cool You on Its Own

Although a fan can’t actually produce any cold air, it can certainly still keep you cool on its own!

However, this requires you to sit directly in the stream of air that the fan puts out. Just being in the same room won’t really help.

This is because fans use a wind chill effect to help you cool off.

Essentially, your body puts out heat. A fan blows away any heat that your body produces that has gathered in the air around you. This cools you down in the same way that blowing steam away from a spoon full of hot food cools it down faster.

Fans also assist your body’s natural method of cooling down—sweat. When sweat evaporates, it takes heat with it. When the air around your body is fully saturated with humidity, this process essentially halts.

By blowing away the warm, moist air, the fan allows your body to continue to benefit from evaporative cooling.

You can try to simulate this cooling effect by placing a damp towel around your neck or by wearing a damp shirt in front of a fan.

Just don’t sit on any cloth furniture if you try this since you can encourage mold growth if you do it too often and water keeps soaking into the fabric!

2. Drink Cold Water (Stay Hydrated)

Drinking cold water might seem like an obvious solution, but it’s also an easy one to forget about. Drinking cold or icy water can help to cool you from the inside out in addition to any other methods you choose to use to fight off the heat.

Additionally, water is water regardless of temperature. By drinking any water or water-based drinks, you’ll keep yourself hydrated, which will enable your body to continue sweating. And as we know, sweating is your body’s natural method of maintaining your temperature in hot environments.

3. Use the Cool Night Temperatures

I mentioned earlier that you could take advantage of cooler night temperatures to keep your home colder throughout the day, as well.

When the sun goes down and the weather chills, your home may be a bit slow to follow since it’s insulated from the outdoors.

Simply opening a window to let heat out and let cool air in will help, but there are ways to let the nighttime chill in even more efficiently.

For starters, putting a box or window fan on the sill of your open window that faces into your home can help pull cool air into your house even faster. Once temperatures in your home have dropped, you can turn off the fan(s) and shut your window(s).

Holmes Dual Blade Manual Window Fan with Reversible Air Flow

You can also use ceiling fans to direct outside air into your home.

You might like to try taking advantage of exhaust fans to remove the warmer air from your home faster. For example, you might make use of your range hood or bathroom exhaust. 

Just be sure that if you’re pairing any exhaust fans with an open window, and that the window is on the opposite side of a room or in another room altogether. That way, you aren’t removing cold air right as it enters.

Once again, you can close the windows and shut off any fans you’re using once your home cools down.

Of course, you don’t need to use a fan at all if you make use of natural airflow. If you open windows or doors on opposite sides of your home, the created cross breeze will naturally allow air to flow through your home, pulling cold air in and blowing the heat away.

Creating a cross breeze isn’t just useful at night, however. Once things heat up again during the day, opening some windows and allowing a breeze into your house can keep you cool via wind chill, just like a fan would.

4. Cool off in the Shower

Don’t forget, you can always hop into the shower for a quick 3-10 minute cool-off.

If getting your shirt damp and waiting for it to evaporate isn’t enough for you, sustained exposure to a spray of cool water certainly should be!

Not only will the water cool you down, but the dampness on your clothing and skin after your shower can make you feel cooler for longer as it evaporates off of you.

Petite girl taking a shower

5. Target Pulse Points

If you’ve ever been told to put your perfume or cologne on your neck or your inner wrists, you may be surprised to know that there’s a bit of science behind that advice. These spots are areas referred to as “pulse points,” which are parts of your body that tend to be warmer than others.

Pulse points are generally warmer because of how close the blood vessels in your body are to the surface of your skin in these spots, since our blood carries heat. This heat helps our chosen fragrances to diffuse better.

In that same way, we can cool our bodies more effectively by targeting our pulse points with various cooling methods.

Resting an ice pack under your keyboard or around your neck, wearing damp wristbands or towels, or keeping a spray bottle nearby to periodically dampen these spots are methods that may help your body to reduce its temperature.

6. Use a Dehumidifier

Using a dehumidifier can help, but only to an extent.

Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air by cooling it and triggering condensation, but they don’t need to cool it too much to achieve this.

However, like a fan, a dehumidifier can also help a room to feel a bit cooler.

BUBLUE 2000 Sq. Ft 25 Pint Dehumidifier for Basements, Home and Large Room with Auto or Manual Drainage | 36 db Industry Leading Noise Reducing | Integrated Air Filters, 3 Operation Modes, Clothes Drying

Dry air feels better than humid air when it’s warm because the high moisture content prevents us from sweating. By keeping the environment itself less moist, we enable our bodies to continue cooling us naturally. 

Needless to say, dehumidifiers can be a decent option, especially if you live in a particularly humid or muggy area. 

However, you do want to be careful not to make the air too dry. Air that is too dry can cause irritation in the sinuses or eyes, and can even cause you to become dehydrated faster. That’s the last thing you want in the summer!

Your goal is simply to rid your home of excess moisture, not all moisture.

7. Limit How Heat Enters the House (or You)

Last but not least, keeping cool is easier if you limit the amount of heat that can enter you or your home.

For example, by taking care to turn off and minimize the use of unnecessary appliances, you may help reduce your house’s temperature slightly since many appliances do generate heat while running.

More importantly, proper insulation is key. Double- or triple-glazed windows, a properly insulated attic, and curtains to keep the sun out can all go a long way in keeping cooler air indoors and keeping heat out. 

As for yourself, it can help to avoid eating hot foods and drinks. Sticking to cool or room temperature meals means you aren’t putting extra heat directly inside yourself!

Of course, if you don’t mind sweating, drinking a hot cup of tea or another beverage can help you cool down by causing you to sweat. As a bonus, it will help keep you hydrated! And as a double bonus, tea is just an all-around excellent drink.

Sources

https://science.howstuffworks.com/question22.htm

https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/can-a-hot-drink-keep-you-cool-in-hot-weather/11282744

https://www.atticsystems.com/about-attic-systems/news-and-events/40678-will-insulating-my-attic-keep-my-house-cooler.html

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/nov-21-microbial-mining-in-space-baby-birds-get-the-boot-palm-oil-substitutes-and-more-1.5808499/why-do-fans-make-the-air-feel-cooler-1.5808501

https://www.healthline.com/health/dry-air

https://www.livescience.com/does-a-dehumidifier-cool-a-room

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57774/how-does-fan-work-cool-you

https://www.sylvane.com/blog/do-dehumidifiers-add-heat-to-a-room/

https://www.thespruce.com/do-fans-cool-a-room-5271790

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