Summers are becoming warmer due to climate change. And although some of us may welcome the heat occasionally, we want to make sure our homes can provide a cool retreat. This is especially important during heatwaves, when extra high temperatures can disrupt sleep and be a danger to health.
Here are some of our top tips for keeping the heat out – from simple, free solutions to bigger home improvements.
Windows and curtains
It may seem like stating the obvious, but getting wiser about windows is a good way to start. If it’s hotter outside than in, keep them closed to block out the warmer air. Close the curtains on the sunny side of the house as well to avoid heating up the air indoors even more.
As the outdoor temperature drops in the evening, opening windows on opposite sides of the house to get a cross breeze blowing will cool things down faster.
Avoid using appliances that generate lots of heat, such as tumble dryers. Cook meals using the hob or a microwave rather than the main oven, as the oven will release more heat into the surrounding room.
Making fans more effective
Sales of electric fans spike when heatwaves hit, but many of us end up not using them properly. Here are a few things to remember to make sure you’re not wasting your energy:
- Fans don’t cool the air, just move it around – there’s no point using a fan if you’re not in the room, as you won’t feel any benefit.
- Only place a fan by an open window if it’s cooler outside – fans will draw air in and recirculate it, so if it’s hotter outside keep the window closed.
- Put a large bowl of ice or cold water in front of the fan – this will provide some instant air conditioning and works best in a smaller space.
Some types of room are more difficult to keep cool with free methods, such as loft conversions which may be less well insulated and heat up quickly from sun on the roof. In these cases, you could think about investing in a portable air conditioner. Depending on the model you choose, it may need to be installed professionally.
One downside of air conditioning is that they can use quite a lot of electricity. Reduce this by making sure you’re buying a highly efficient model. Go to Which? for more advice on the pros and cons of air conditioners and coolers.
Bigger home improvements
It may seem counter-intuitive, but upgrades that may usually be associated with heating can also provide a helping hand during the summer months.
Roof and wall insulation
Having a well-insulated home doesn’t just stop heat from escaping in winter. In summer, the insulation means it will take longer for heat to permeate through the roof and walls from outside, too.
Add some shade on the sunny side
If you have a south or south-west facing home, you’ll be in the sun throughout the day. While this is perfect if you want to install solar panels, it can mean your home will heat up more quickly.
To stop the hot afternoon sun streaming through windows, feel inspired by Mediterranean design and install shutters or awnings.
Air source heat pumps
If you’re thinking of changing from gas to a renewable heating system, remember that air source heat pumps can also provide cooling during summer.
As moving away from gas means using more electricity, make your heat pump greener by switching to a 100% renewable tariff. That way, you’ll know that your extra electricity usage is being matched with electricity generated from renewable sources.