Get Ready for Heatwaves

Does Your Home Become Uncomfortable in Heatwaves? Make Preparations Now

After a mostly cool and wet spring, it’s a good time to prepare for the expected heatwaves!   I hope you can enjoy pleasant weather in between.

Cambridge set a UK record temperature of 38.7°C in July 2019, but as expected with global heating, that was soon surpassed by last July’s new record of 40.3°C in Lincolnshire.  Climate change will bring us even more extreme heatwaves, which will be uncomfortable for most of us and life-threatening for many.  NHS Advice.

The Office of National Statistics estimates that 3,271 extra deaths in England and Wales were associated with hot weather last summer. Unfortunately the cycle of El-Nino years are probably coming again and are expected to cause even hotter UK weather over the next summer or two.

So this is the time to get ready for extreme heat, if you can.

Most UK homes are badly prepared for these heatwaves, including many new homes, especially those like south-facing flats, which are hard to shade and ventilate.

I was glad when the new Buildings Regulations finally came into force last June, requiring designers to reduce overheating in new homes. But I was disappointed to hear that Cambridge City and South Cambs shared planning team are seeing minimal resulting improvements in planning applications for new homes.   Preventing overheating needn’t be expensive, costing only a tiny fraction of normal building costs.

You can probably make improvements to your home, old or new to keep it cooler in heatwaves, like:

  • Shading to stop the sun shining in through windows and skylights. External shading, like awnings or shutters. If that’s not possible, white blinds or curtains to help reflect the sun.
  • Only open windows when it’s cooler outside, especially at night to flush out the hot air. Can you securely get a good through-draft during the cooler summer nights?
  • Keep yourself cool and hydrated. Loose clothing, a water spray or a small fan may help.
  • Look out for vulnerable neighbours. Can they keep comfortably cool?

We’ll cover these and more suggestions, with practical details in a free online Open Eco Homes talk: ‘Cool Homes in a Heatwave on Mon 5th June  7:00-8:30pm: Booking essential.
Hoping you can safely enjoy the coming hot weather.

Tom Bragg         Cambridge Carbon Footprint Trustee
First Published in Cambridge Independent 17 May 2023