How to keep your house cool this summer
By Rachel England Monday 10 June 2013
We know, we know. After the winter – and hugely rainy spring, you’d be right to wonder if there’s any point getting excited about summer at all. But the good news is, things are set to get better and we’ll see at least a couple of days of sunshine, flip flops and last-minute barbecues.
Thing is though, we Brits aren’t very well prepared for hot weather (namely because we get it so rarely). When soaring temperatures strike we melt into sweaty pools of complaining and stickiness, tossing and turning all night and sitting in front of fans in a bid to cool down. As Peter Kay says, “I like it hot, but not this hot”.
Our counterparts in the States and Australia are more adept at dealing with the heat, but then they’re very dependent on air-conditioning – something we’ve no real call for in the UK. There are alternatives! Don’t rely on energy-guzzling electronics to keep you cool this summer, follow these top tips instead.
Tempting as it is to fling open the windows at the first sign of heat, it’s a plan liable to backfire on you. To keep your house cool, you need to keep the hot air out, so this means keeping windows – particularly south-facing windows – closed and covered with blinds or curtains during the day. Then at night time, when the temperature has dropped, you can open everything up to give your house a good airing.
But 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 – moving air is cooler than still air, after all. This means opening windows at opposite sides of the house and keeping doors open so the air can move through freely. But keep curtains and blinds closed to deflect any direct sunlight.
Also, a pro-tip for those with sash windows: make sure both the top and bottom are open equal amounts. The theory (well according to the Victorians, anyway), is that cool comes in through the lower opening and warm air is pushed out through the top.
Most people associate building insulation with cold weather and keeping heat in, but it’s just as good at keeping the heat out, too. Check out our straightforward guide to DIY home insulation and you’ll be reaping rewards all year round!
Leaving bowls of water lying around might look a little untidy, but doing so can help cool hot air. Similarly, trees and plants act as natural air conditioners and pump moisture into the atmosphere, so consider investing in a nice houseplant to help your efforts. Just remember to water it!
Switch it off
A surprising amount of heat is generated from appliances around the house, and switching them off can help avoid internal heat gains. Turn them off when not in use (don’t just leave them on standby), and make sure the backs of fridges and freezers have plenty of ventilation space – these appliances in particular can pump a lot of unnecessary heat into a room.
Also, conventional incandescent light bulbs generate light quite inefficiently, giving off waste heat in the process. Switch to low energy light bulbs to reduce overheating (as well as saving money).
Be a fan of the fan
Fans can prove a summertime godsend for the sleepless, but make sure you’re using them right. Since heat rises, the coolest air in your house is going to be at floor level, so set your fan on the floor and point it upwards. Position it so that it points outwards towards the opposite wall, unobstructed by large objects.
This will bounce the cooler air off the wall and back into the room, mixing with the warm air to help cool the temperature altogether. To speed up the process, place a bowl of icey water in front of the fan, so the airs blows across it.