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How to keep your house cool during a heatwave

How to keep your house cool during the heatwave
How to keep your house cool during the heatwave

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and Met Office issued a yellow heat health warning, as much of England prepares to experience temperatures of up to 31C (88F) this week.

Many Britons will be rejoicing as they welcome some sunshine and enjoy time in the park or by the seaside, but upon returning home they may find the level of heat has made conditions inside uncomfortable.

Making sure your living space is a bearable temperature will help you sleep better, while providing a chilled haven from the scorching heat outside.

Here, Telegraph Money shares cooling tips to take the heat out of your home.

Batten down the hatches

As much as you might love sunlight streaming in through the windows, in high temperatures you need to keep the heat out by closing your shutters, curtains and blinds.

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Rooms with south-facing windows will likely get the hottest, so you might want to snap up a purpose-built window shade as shelter from the beating sun.

You could also consider installing reflective window film, which is designed to reduce excess heat, glare and UV rays. It’s possible to buy some rolls of film and stick it on yourself, but if you’ve got large hard-to-reach windows it might make more sense to get a trader to install it for you.

Does opening your windows actually help?

While it’s a good idea to lock warm air out during the day, opening your windows when it’s cooler can help flush hot air out of the property.

But you’ll need to be selective about which windows you open, and when. Opening windows on opposite walls, or at opposite ends of the house will allow air to flow through the house, creating a cross-breeze.

Timing wise, open windows at night and early in the morning when it’s cooler outside, and then close them during the rest of the day. You’ll trap the cooler air inside, letting it circulate without escaping.

How effective are fans?

Getting a fan is perhaps one of the more obvious tips, but you might not be using your fan in the optimum way.

Since fans only circulate the air, rather than cool it, you’ll want to target the coolest air in your home and get it circulating to cool you down. As heat rises, the coolest air in your house is going to be at floor level, so set your fan on the ground floor and point it upwards.

Another great technique is to find the coolest room in your house and angle your fan from there to the warmest room. This should help push the hot air out and let the cooler air circulate.

diy home made air conditioner ac cooler
Use a fan and create your own icy breeze - https://www.alamy.com

Even better, place a shallow container full of ice in front of your fan so you can benefit from an icy-cool breeze.

A desktop fan starts from around £20, with a huge range of shapes, sizes and prices depending on where you want the fan to be, and what your budget is.

If you’re really splashing out you can plump for a Dyson Hot+Cool Purifying Fan Heater that can be used for heating as well as cooling. At the same time, it will purify the air by filtering out pollutants, and costs £699.

As for the effect having a fan running will have on your energy bill, the good news is they are usually very cheap to run. Price comparison website uSwitch, estimates a basic desktop fan costs just 74p to run for a week based on nine hours of use a day – but larger fans will likely cost a bit more.

Have a light bulb moment

Some older style light bulbs give out heat, which will be unwelcome in an already baking hot room.

Therefore, switching your bulb to an LED alternative can cut down on the amount of heat being pumped into the room, and they also use less energy, which is good news for your bills, too.

Consider investing in air conditioning

The ultimate way to keep your house cool is to have air conditioning installed. You could just have it in the rooms you need it most rather than all over the house.

This might be a lifeline if you have a home office in the attic, or for those who have bedrooms with south-facing windows.

The average cost to install air conditioning in a small home office is £1,750-£3,000, and in a double bedroom you might pay between £2,250-£3,000, according to tradesperson directory Checkatrade.

It can also add a large chunk to your energy bill, with uSwitch figures estimating that a built-in model uses 2.7kilowatts of power an hour, working out to £56.76 a week based on nine hours of use a day.

Switch your bedding

Hot rooms can seriously impact on your sleep, but you can switch your bedding to help keep cool at night.

Temperature regulating bedding is made from more breathable fabrics, which claim to draw away body heat to help you keep cool.

Nicola Waller, partner and home furnishings buyer at John Lewis said: “Specialist temperature regulating bedding will help you out during the hot summer months, and will even be beneficial as the temperature drops in the autumn. The bedding helps wick away moisture and responds to your body temperature.”

Use the fridge to aid sleep

To get some cool before you go to sleep, put your pillowcases in the fridge and slip them on your pillows just before you turn in.

The Sleep Charity also recommends chilling a pair of socks in the fridge before bedtime, as getting them to cool your feet will help to lower your core body temperature.

Alternatively, you could use frozen cooling blocks from picnic sets to cool down your mattress or pillows before you get into bed.

Insulate your home

Insulation is just as important for keeping homes cool in hot weather during summer as it is for keeping heat in during winter. It will also help any cooling systems to work more efficiently by keeping the cool air from escaping your home. Crucially, this will also save your money in the long run.

Loft insulation is usually the most affordable place to start, and usually costs between £400 and £1,200 for the average house.

As a lower maintenance alternative you could try a draught excluder and inexpensive foam tape around doors to help keep cold air in and warm air out.

Avoid using the oven

Ovens generate a lot of heat, and stay warm for a long time after cooking, meaning you could have a lot of warm air spreading from your kitchen throughout the house.

To cut down on heat from cooking affecting the air temperature, try to cook on the hobs, use the microwave, or even on the barbecue in the garden. If you have an air fryer, that could also provide a cooler alternative. And it should go without saying – turn the Aga off.

Aga
Kitchens can be the hottest room in the house, so turn off the Aga and try cooler alternatives - Andreas von Einsiedel/Corbis Documentary RF

Cool yourself

You can complement your heat-banishing efforts around the home by wearing loose, lightweight clothing made of natural fibres, like cotton and linen.

Use an icepack, chilled hot water bottle or cold cloth on your wrists and feet to cool your skin, and drink plenty of water.

You can also try taking a cold shower before bed – or whenever you need to cool down fast.

This article is kept updated with the latest information.