Why don’t German homes have air conditioners?” is one of the questions that come up every year. By the time May or June hits with the first hot days, Americans are flabbergasted. How do Germans survive the summer without the wonders of AC? 

There are many reasons why air conditioners are rare in German homes. I guess, the biggest reason is that it is very expensive to have them installed after the house was built. Its easier to calculate in central heat/AC if you are planning and building your home, versus having to add it later on. Also, ACs do use a lot of electricity, so again a matter of cost. The maybe funniest reason is the dreaded draft. A cold draft, in Germany, is still considered a threat to your health. Responsible for everything from a cold to joint pains, especially the older population worries about getting cool drafts, even on hot days. 

So, what are the tricks to survive the hot summer days? 

  • Air your house out early in the morning, open up all the windows, get a nice breeze through the house. This rids your home of the hot air and excess moisture. Once aired out, close or crack the windows. 
  • Keep Rolladens and blinds closed, or lowered, during the days. Black out curtains are a great alternative, if your house doesn’t have Rolladens. This will keep the sun out and prevent the rooms from heating up. If you have sun sails or awnings, roll them out, too, for additional shade. 
  • Invest in a couple of fans, buy them early in the spring or hunt for them on the yard sale pages when people sell them. By the time it gets hot, fans are sold out quickly. 
  • Change your bedding. Germans have summer and winter bedding. Wintertime calls for heavy down filled duvets and flannel sheets, while summer time is light comforter and cool linen time. 
  • Avoid running the dryer in the house and save some cash all by simply hanging up your clothes outside to dry. Stuff dries within an hour when it is hot. Drying your clothes on a small rack inside your bedroom is also a good way to cool the room a couple degrees. Drying laundry actually has a cooling effect. 
  • Make sure your heater is set to summer operation (your landlord can do that for you) or if you have an older system, be sure all heaters are set to off. 
  • If you have a lot of lamps with lightbulbs, making sure all of them are changed to LEDs and are no longer the old-style bulbs can make a difference. 
  • Unplug unused appliances; not only does that save you power, but those chargers and lights also create heat. 
  • If you have tile floors, don’t cover them with carpets, the cold floors give you a nice, cool feeling. 

If you use all those tricks, your house should stay relatively cool. However, sometimes that still isn’t enough. With the following great ideas, you should be able to keep a cool head: 

  • Make your own air conditioner by placing a bowl of ice in front of a fan. 
  • Hang a damp towel in front of a window with a breeze. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids; spritz mixed drinks are a great way to replenish minerals and keep hydrated. Simply mix some apple juice with sparkling water at the rate of 50/50, done. They are so good, and you can use your favorite juice if you don’t care for apple. 
  • Jump in the pool. Germany has public outdoor pools all over the place, or if you prefer it more private, invest in a nice little outdoor pool for your home; they come in all shapes and sizes. 
  • If all else fails, go out and invest in a portable AC unit. They are relatively affordable, and if you keep an eye out on a good energy rating, they won’t run your electric bill up too much. If you live on base, check to see if you are allowed to use an AC unit first; some housing areas do not allow them. 

Either way you look at it, hot summer days are limited here, so enjoy them while they last. Most Germans flock outside during the hot days and spend the days at the lake, pool or park. And by the time you finish up the day with a nice cold beer at one of the thousand beer gardens, its time to open up the windows at home.