Living in Japan

4 ways to cool down your apartment in Japan without an air conditioner

Here are four cost-efficient ways to cool down your apartment this summer without using your air conditioner.

Of course, these methods also work along with an A/C. Stay cool out there (and indoors, too), folks, and let’s see if we can cut down on our electricity bills a bit this summer!

Use an air circulator

Air circulators look like traditional electric fans but function differently.

Example of an air circulator for sale on This compact model is designed to cool an 8-tatami mat room. Price is ¥3,197, Image:

Neither air circulators nor fans actually lower the temperature of a room. They produce a cooling effect by moving the air around and creating a breeze. This then evaporates sweat from your skin, making the body feel cool.

The main difference between the two is how they’re designed to circulate air. Standard oscillating electric fans flow air in one direction and are designed to blow a chilling wind onto you in order to wick away moisture.

Air circulators, however, are designed to blend and move large amounts of air, dispersing it throughout a whole room and push warm air downward; this results in a cooling effect no matter where you’re standing.

Air circulators are also more energy efficient than electric fans, though they can be slightly noisier.

In terms of energy consumption, air circulators are more energy efficient than standard electrical fans and much more efficient than A/Cs. Typical floor or box fans use between 40W and 100W of power.

On average, wall-mounted air conditioners use between 130W and 880W of energy an hour, when cooling a room, which is equivalent to an electricity cost of between 3.5 yen and 23.8 yen an hour. (Source: Fujitsu)

In contrast, air circulators use about a third of the wattage as air conditioners. The popular Vornado brand of air circulators, for example, claims to use between 43W and 53W an hour. (Source:

If you just need to cool down a single room in your apartment, you can look at very compact circulators that use even less energy. The model pictured above, for example, claims to consume only 29W of energy and is designed to cool a 8-tatami mat room.

Use an electric fan or air circulator + Frozen PET bottles

You can also up your cooling game by placing frozen PET bottles behind your electric floor fan. This will cool down the air that the fan blows toward you.

For this hack, fill used PET bottles with water, freeze them, then place them on a tray or on top of a towel (to protect your floor) immediately behind your fan. You can also tie them to the back of your fan with cord. This may not be the most aesthetic thing for your living room or bedroom, but it will cool down the air!

Use heat-blocking curtains

In the summer, heat enters your home mainly through the windows. In winter, conversely, most heat loss occurs through window panes.

So an effective way to cool down your room is by keeping heat from entering the room in the first place.

Heat-blocking curtains can block as much as 50 percent of the heat transfer that occurs through your curtains, or at least that is what the manufacturers claim!

Search for “遮熱カーテン” (heat-shielding curtain) or “UVカットカーテン” (UV-cut curtains) online. They are available on Amazon, Rakuten, and anywhere you would usually shop for window treatments. A set for a sliding-glass door costs about ¥3,000.

Use window insulation film

Window insulation film deals with the problem of heat transfer before the sun makes it to your curtains.

Window insulation sheets are applied directly to your window and can significantly reduce the amount of sunlight and heat that enters the room. The top images show what windows look like from the outside; bottom images show transparency from the inside of the room. These are available on Rakuten, Amazon, etc.. Image: Takrafune on Rakuten

These sheets are sold in rolls and are applied with water and pressure. Measure out the correct size, spray water on the windows, place the sheet on top, then smooth out the sheet to remove air bubbles. A roll costs between ¥3,000 and ¥4,000.

Search for “窓断熱シート” (window heat-shielding sheets) online.

You may also be interested in

Lead photo: iStock 1248384469