UK heatwave: How to keep your home cool as the temperature rises

·5-min read
UK heatwave: How to keep your home cool as the temperature rises
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Hot summer days are something that most of us look forward to in the UK, considering that the majority of the year is cold and dominated by downpours.

But, while we might be enjoying the balmy days of summer, it is important to remember that there is such a thing as being too hot.

This week, forecasters at the Met Office have issued weather warnings as blue skies and scorching temperatures look set to persist for much of the week.

Heatwave conditions in parts of southern and central England will see temperatures reach the mid to high 30’s, and overnight temperatures will also be high for many.

“Much of southern England and eastern areas of Wales will see the heatwave continue until the middle of next week, with temperatures widely into the low to mid 30’s Celsius,” says Andy Page, chief meteorologist at the Met Office.

“We’ve got a few exceptionally warm and humid nights ahead this weekend too, which could come close to record-breaking, as temperatures overnight remain above 20 Celsius in parts of south east England.”

Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, consultant in public health at Public Health England, adds: “Many of us welcome warmer weather, but some people may find it more difficult to cope.

“This summer, many of us are spending more time at home due to Covid-19. A lot of homes can overheat, so it’s important we continue to check on older people and those with underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re living alone and may be socially isolated.

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“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and know how to keep their homes cool.”

From closing your windows during the day to building your own DIY aircon, here is what you can do to keep the temperature down in your home.

Keep your curtains closed

While it may be tempting to open your curtains or blinds and let the sunshine in when it’s warm outside, the government’s Heatwave Plan for England says doing so can actually increase the temperature of your home.

Instead, it suggests keeping them closed throughout the day, adding that extra care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat.

“Consider replacing or putting reflective material in‐between them and the window space,” the guidelines state.

Only open your windows at night

According to OVO Energy, windows should be kept closed during the day but once the heat starts to drop they can be opened again.

This is because temperatures fall considerably at night, meaning that opening a window in the evening will allow cool air to circulate around the house.

“Tempting as it is to fling open the windows at the first sign of heat, it’s a plan liable to backfire on you,” the company says.

“If it all gets a bit too hot during the day and you really must open a window, make sure you do so in a way that encourages a through draught. This means opening windows at opposite sides of the house and keeping doors open so the air can move through freely.”

Build your own DIY aircon

No air con? No problem. While an electric fan might seem like an obvious solution when temperatures start to rise, there is a trick you can use to make it even cooler.

Simply place a bowl filled with ice water directly in front of a fan and then switch it on. As the ice melts the breeze from the fan will pick up the cool air coming from the ice’s surface and create a cool breeze, similar to an air conditioning unit.

If you don’t have any ice, a wet flannel or damp towel placed over the fan will work just as well, as will leaving bowls of water dotted around the house to create moisture.

Buy house plants

The NHS adds that keeping indoor plants can help bring moisture into a stuffy room, adding that plants such as peace lilies and rubber plants serve as a “natural air conditioner”.

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“Planting trees and vegetation and the creation of green spaces to enhance evaporation and shading are other options, as temperatures in and around green spaces can be several degrees lower than their surroundings," the NHS says.

Turn off the tech

A surprising amount of heat is generated from appliances around the house, so avoiding charging them overnight or switching devices off can help avoid internal heat gains.

According to Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep expert at Silentnight, the optimal bedroom temperature for sleeping is between 16C and 21C, and your brain needs to be slightly cooler than the rest of your body.

For this reason, she suggests turning off all electrical devices in the bedroom as these emit heat and switching off sockets too. This includes not having your phone on charge.

“A good night’s sleep is important in order to process information throughout the day as well as to repair and re-balance the body physically and mentally,” Ramlakhan previously told The Independent.

Lights out

 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Like technology, light bulbs radiate heat which won’t help when you’re trying to keep cool in this weather.

So, save reduce your energy bills by turning the lights off. OVO Energy adds that conventional incandescent light bulbs generate light quite inefficiently, giving off up to 90 per cent of their energy as waste heat in the process.

As such, switch to low energy light bulbs will help reduce overheating, as well as saving money.

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