This summer is shaping up to be a scorcher, but we Brits aren’t so good at dealing with hot weather, relying on energy-hungry fans and air-conditioning units to see us through. Here are 10 tips that’ll help bring your temperature – and energy bills – down to a much cooler level.
Seems like a no-brainer, this one, but using your windows properly can help circulate air around a house and reduce some of the mugginess associated with a heat wave. Sash windows should be opened equal amounts at the top and bottom; because heat rises this helps push hot air out while drawing cooler air in. The same principle applies to two storey houses. Keep upstairs windows open to get rid of hot air and leave downstairs windows open to pull in cooler air, and create some much-needed circulation.
Glorious, beaming sunlight can be something of a scarcity in the UK, so it’s tempting to throw the curtains wide to let light in. All this does is heat up rooms, though, so keep curtains and blinds drawn during the day, and come the evening, open them up to make the most of the natural light for as long as possible.
Light bulbs and electrical appliances emit heat. While it might only be a small amount, it’s enough to push an already hot house into truly unpleasant levels of sweatiness – so unplug! Eke out as much use as you can from natural light before flicking on electrical lights, and swap old light bulbs for new, energy-saving ones. They emit hardly any heat and you could save on your annual energy bill - check out our ultimate beginner’s guide to energy saving light bulbs.
Avoid using stoves and ovens if you can help it – they’ll just push the temperature in your kitchen up. But when needs must, be sure to:
Lighter foods are definite winners during a heat wave, so stick to cool, easily-digestible meals to keep your body temperature down, and avoid protein-heavy meals, which can increase your metabolic rate. That said, some experts believe a spicy curry can help keep you cool. Curry contains capsaicin, a heat compound in chilli peppers that stimulates sweat production, and as you sweat, you enhance evaporative heat loss, which helps you feel cooler.
Sleeping during a heat wave is no mean feat, especially in the UK where we’re not really geared up for such a challenge! Make things a little easier by choosing cotton sheets, which help ventilation, and going to bed with a cool, damp flannel. No-one wants to sleep under a heavy duvet when the weather’s hot, so use a thin sheet instead, and for maximum cool points pop it in the fridge or freezer before bedtime.
It’s tempting to set your shower to arctic levels when you’re hot and sweaty, but this can be counterproductive, as your body will react to dramatic change by trying to preserve heat. It’s much better to have a tepid shower that is cool enough to lower your core body temperature but warm enough to allow blood to the surface of the skin. You won’t need hot water to do this, so remember to turn down your boiler’s water thermostat – a tank of hot water sitting in your house will only add to the heat problem.
Washing machines and tumble dryers are heat-generating appliances so use them early in the morning or in the evening, rather than in the heat of the day. Better yet, use the washing machine first thing and then skip the dryer altogether by hanging laundry outside.
If you do end up reaching for a fan, make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Create a cross breeze by positioning it across from an open window, or point it downwards towards so it pushes cooler air up into the rising heat. When things get really hot, position a shallow pan or bowl of ice in front of the fan – the airflow will pick up cold water from the surface of the ice as it melts, creating a cooling breeze.
The terms double-glazing and insulation are usually bandied around during winter when we’re keen to keep the heat in and the cold out. But a well insulated house works all year round, and in summer proves its mettle by keeping heat outside and precious cool air inside. Insulating your home is an investment, but it’s one that will save you money and pay off whatever the weather.
OVO Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879
Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.
1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Based on all new customer signups between 01/02/2016 and 31/07/2016
94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.