Stay Cool in a Heatwave

Here are the main ways to keep your home cool in a heatwave, or at least not so hot!  Try to adapt them to your situation.

Shower to cool off

Cool Yourself:

Spray or sponge yourself with water. Take a cool shower

A fan can help you stay comfortable

cold pack around your neck or under an arm.
Put cold water in a ‘hot water bottle’ then in a freezer. Take it to bed!

Avoid going out or exerting yourself in the heat of the day

Loose, thin clothing, a wide-brimmed hat & sunglasses outside

Don’t get dehydratedHave cold drinks regularly.

Avoid heat exhaustion See NHS advice 

Shade Your Home  

DIY awning keeps the sun off

Reduce sun coming in the windows

Internal curtains or blinds, especially reflective ones, help but external shading is better still:

External shutters or venetian blinds – can be electrically operated

Awnings, retractable or DIY (video), Many electric awnings are automatic.

Ventilate at night:

On a hot day close all doors, windows and vents that let in hot air.

Thermal Image shows HOT roof

Cool off at night :
Let hot air out by opening windows or skylights at the top of the house.  Draw in cool air by opening ground-floor windows or vents where the air is cooler outside. Many windows can be part-opened in secure ways that won’t let a burglar in.
For example restrictors like these or these can be fitted to wooden sash windows, letting them only open a bit when you want. 
If your home is only on one floor, purge the hot air by opening windows or vents on opposite sides, if possible. 

Avoid unwanted heating etc

Choose low-energy appliances & lights: use them only as needed.

Are your hot water pipes and tank well insulated?

Insulate walls and roofs, especially those that get hot in the sun.
Reflective, silvery insulation (eg: multifoil) is good for reducing heat radiating down from a hot roof.  Draught-proofing helps keeps hot air out.

Thermal Mass from brick, stone, etc stabilises indoor temperatures.

Burning hot sun

External wall insulation, with the thermal mass of the walls inside is good for this.  You can benefit from the thermal mass of solid floors by covering them with tiles, rather than thick carpets.

Human choices

If your home’s too hot, is there anywhere you can go that’s cooler? Could you sleep in a cooler room – on the north side or ground floor?

Avoid air-conditioning, where possible – it’s energy-intensive and blasts heat at your neighbours.

See this NHS advice on staying safe in hot weather. Older people and young children are most at risk.

Being Neighbourly

Do you know people in hot homes you can invite to cool off in yours?
Could you offer them advice or practical help, with some of the above?

Hoping this helps you enjoy the hot summer weather!

My heart goes out to anyone in a poorly designed home that overheats easily, especially people in single-aspect flats that face the sun. Single-aspect means that windows are only on one side, so they’re hard to ventilate, although see slide 21 here on using a fan to help. Without shading  or heat-reflecting glass, the sun becomes punishing.  CCF thermal imaging revealed a new flat like this with poorly insulated hot pipes in a corner, carrying solar-heated hot water around the block!  

 It’s a scandal that UK building regulations have only just (June 2022) required design to prevent overheating in new-build homes. This was practical and needed decades ago; so many residents suffer unnecessarily in poor homes, built during that time.


Tom Bragg, based on an Open Eco Homes talk: ‘Cool Homes in a Heatwave

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