How to prepare your home for a heatwave
Temperatures in the UK are eventually rising and while the heat is lovely, it also comes with some drawbacks.
While you might enjoy the sunshine to get outside or from the comfort of your air-conditioned office, it’s a different story at home, especially at night.
The heatwave currently settling across much of Europe can be distressing and underscores what climatologists have long been predicting: we will likely be seeing more heat waves than usual as the planet warms.
If you’re feeling the heat, here are a few preparations which can help reduce its impact in your home.
1. Open your windows and doors strategically
When the weather becomes really hot, you may find it very useful to become an early riser, and be up when it is still cool outside. Open up the windows in the morning to cool your house down, then shut them when it gets warmer outside. That way at least your home would be at a decent temperature in the mornings.
By opening windows at both ends of the house, you let air move freely throughout the whole structure. This is called a cross-ventilation and helps reduce the temperature quickly.
If a room is cooler than the outdoor temperature or even than the adjoining room, close the door. This will retain the colder room temperature for as long as possible even in the warmest part of the day.
2. Shield windows exposed to the sun
Take note of the amount of direct sunlight your home receives at different times of the day, so you know which rooms contribute the most to heat build-up from direct sunlight. Shield the windows in those rooms accordingly. Even simply pulling down the shades will block sunlight and reduce indoor heat. If you’ll be away for the day, then shade the windows before you leave in the morning. Don’t hesitate to invest in inexpensive mini blinds or curtains.
Awnings are ideal because they block sunlight without reducing air circulation around windows. Even temporary awnings can be installed: it’s worth the effort, because the ‘awning effect’ can help reduce heat entering the house by as much as 80 percent.
Pulling down the shades or shutting the blinds will block sunlight and help keep indoor room temperatures down, but it can also reduce circulation in homes which do not have air conditioning. Leaving an air space between the shield and the window will help.
3. Refrigerate bottles of drinking water and use hot water bottles
We become dehydrated more quickly in extreme heat, so we need to drink small amounts of water throughout the day. Bring a bottle of drinking water when leaving the home and keep a few bottles of water chilling in the refrigerator.
Hot water bottles can be a real lifesaver in summer too. Fill your water bottle with cold water and then stick it in the freezer. You’ll have your homemade ice pack ready for when you need it most.
4. Stock up on ‘cool’ foods
Eating heavy meals will make you hotter, and cooking large meals adds heat to the house. During a heatwave, plan simpler meals that don’t require cooking. Salads and cold fruits like watermelon are full of water and will help you stay cool. Sandwiches are easy to prepare from cold or room-temperature ingredients.
Some foods can be prepared in the evening or early morning when the temperature is cooler, then served cold during daytime meals.
If you need to cook indoors, use the microwave when possible to avoid heating up the kitchen.
5. Use the ice fan trick
An electric fan might seem like the obvious go to when temperatures start to rise but there’s an old trick you can use to make it even cooler: place a bowl of icy water in front of the fan. As the ice evaporates, it will make the air feel pleasantly cool.
6. Use cotton sheets in your bed and hand a wet sheet
Whilst the weather is hot, you might want to keep away from silk or satin sheets. Trade these fabrics for light coloured cotton sheets which will be a little cooler to sleep in.
Hanging a wet sheet in front of the window will also help to bring the room temperature down.
7. Turn off lights and tech
Light bulbs – even if they are environmentally friendly – give off heat. Save yourself a bit of money on the energy bills whilst keeping the house cool by turning the lights off. The sun shines up later anyway, so there’s no real need for light bulbs until it gets really late.
Like light bulbs, your electrical appliances radiate heat which won’t help when you’re trying to sleep in this weather. Unplug your phone and devices and don’t be tempted to charge them overnight unless you absolutely have to.
8. Sleep downstairs
If you’re really struggling to sleep in your bedroom, downstairs might be the best place for you. Hot air rises, so sleeping in a room on the ground floor means you’ll feel cooler.
9. Avoid clutter
As always, our last recommendation is to avoid clutter. The more stuff you have in a room, the less air can properly circulate. Try to put as many things away as you can. It’s always a good idea to organise storage before the real heat arrives, as you don’t want to be decluttering and moving things around when temperatures are suffocating !