Older homes built before the 1960s or 1970s can be challenging to cool. Most of these homes don’t have the necessary ductwork in place to support a modern central air conditioning unit. Even if these homes do have central AC, they might still not remain as cool as a newer home. That’s due to a lack of modern energy efficiency standards such as weather-stripping and well-sealed entryways. If you’re searching for a better way to stay cool in your older home, consider these 7 options

1. Update Energy Efficiency 

window in a dark room

Before you do anything else, perform an energy efficiency audit on your home to determine where you may be losing cool air. It’s very common for older homes to have air leaks around doors and windows. A lot of the time, there may be issues with energy inefficiency due to a lack of insulation in older homes as well. This can translate to undue heat transfer through the walls and roof. This can be especially problematic if you have a dark roof that absorbs heat from the sunlight faster. An audit can help you identify and address problem areas. 

2. Ceiling Fan

ceiling fan

A good old-fashioned ceiling fan can be a great way to cool a room. While a ceiling fan can’t actually reduce the temperature in a room, it can make it feel about 4°F cooler. That might not sound like a lot but even a few degrees less can be a game changer on a scorching hot day. Be sure your fan is set to spin counterclockwise to create a cool downward breeze. You can actually use ceiling fans during the winter too. Simply switch it to spin clockwise so it can pull cool air up which, in turn, will force the warm air collected at the ceiling down.   

3. Ductless Mini-Split Systems

ductless mini-split in a new build home

Many homes constructed before the 60s and 70s were not constructed with ductwork. Central air conditioning wasn’t common until the early 70s. That being said, many homeowners with older dwellings might prefer to find a cooling option that doesn’t involve installing new ductwork. One great solution is the ductless mini-split system. This type of cooling system is comprised of an outdoor compressor and an indoor air-handling unit. The indoor unit is fixed to the wall. You will need a separate unit for each room you need to cool or each floor if you have a smaller home.     

4. Evaporative Cooler 

swamp cooler on roof

Also known as a swamp cooler, an evaporative cooler is a great option for dry, hot climates. They utilize the power of water evaporation to absorb and dispel heat from in the home. This type of cooling unit can easily manage to keep your home at a comfortable temperature during 90-degree weather. They also increase the humidity levels within a home. This may be an added advantage for those in arid climates. 

5. Portable Air Conditioner 

portable ac unit

If you only need to cool a small bedroom or living room, a portable air conditioner might work for your situation. This is a cost-effective option compared to other types of air conditioner units. It can also be more energy efficient if you only use one portable AC unit at a time at the times you need it. Keep in mind that these units can be a bit noisy since their compressor is inside. 

6. Window Unit 

Window unit

Another fairly cost-efficient cooling method is the window air conditioning unit. This cooling option was commonplace in homes before central air conditioning ruled the day. Just as the name suggests, the unit will be installed directly in a window. While it does help homeowners avoid more involved, invasive installations, it does obstruct your view and limits natural light. This is the trade-off for a cheaper, easier-to-install air conditioning option. 

7. Central Air Conditioning

Central AC outdoor unit

If you have the space and the means for it, you can install central air in an older home. It’s simply more challenging than installing one in a new home. Maintaining the character and historic integrity of an older home can also be a challenge when installing central AC. It will require ductwork and a space for the indoor air conditioner unit. This can eat up precious space that you might not want to lose out on. This whole endeavor can be quite expensive too. But for some, it’s worth it to have a cooling solution that can work throughout the entire home. 

8. High-Velocity HVAC Systems

8. High-Velocity HVAC Systems mini vent

If you don’t have a lot of spare space to work with and you still want a whole-home cooling option, it might be worth your while to look into a high-velocity HVAC system. This system utilizes mini-ducts that are far easier to fit into the cramped spaces of an older home. They have smaller vents that are roughly 3 inches in diameter which can lend well to a more sleek interior design style. The high-velocity HVAC system is a great choice for small older homes and they can accommodate both your cooling and heating needs.