With the UK’s temperature reaching 40°C for the first time in recorded history, it’s time for a crash course on how to cool down during a heatwave.
It goes without saying that using an air conditioner (AC) is the best way to cool down your home. But since ACs aren’t really common in the UK, here are other methods you can use to beat the heat:
Keep the Heat Out with Dark Heavy Curtains
Your home is most likely designed to retain heat using external or internal wall insulation. And it’s a good thing that insulation goes both ways so your walls are also protecting you from the heat outside.
Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to keep the heat out entirely since it can easily enter through your windows. What’s worse is that your wall insulation is then going to trap that heat in.
So your best bet is to cover your sun-facing windows with thermal curtains. Don’t have any heavy curtains? You can use tin foil in a pinch. It will look ugly but it will keep the heat out.
You also need to fight the instinct to open all of your windows. If it’s 40°C outside, you don’t want that hot air coming in. How do you remove the heat from within your home then? You need an efficient air-cooling setup.
The Most Efficient Air Cooling Setup
There isn’t a one-size fits all solution to air cooling your home. You need to map out your home and figure out which windows get sunshine and when. That way you can open the windows that aren’t currently getting some sun.
Ideally, you want one open window close to where you’re going to work or relax in, and another farther away from you. If that’s not possible, then you may want to open your door instead.
The next step is to get two fans. You’ll obviously point one fan in your direction and place it in front of the window close to you. Then you’ll want to place the second fan in front of the open window farther from you but be sure that it’s blowing air OUTSIDE the window.
Why would you waste electricity on a fan that’s blowing air outside? This setup allows cool air (as cool as air can get during a heatwave) to enter your home, absorb the heat around you, and then be promptly blown out of your home by the second fan.
Keep the Heat Production to a Minimum
We know, nobody’s silly enough to turn on their space heaters in this weather. But your TV or computer can pump out a surprising amount of heat. So turn off all electronics that you don’t need. Then put your other devices in power-saving mode to ensure you’re producing the minimum amount of heat necessary.
Monitor the Humidity
The humidity can make the heat a lot worse since our bodies rely on the evaporation of sweat to cool down. If the air is too humid, then our sweat won’t evaporate, making us more susceptible to heat stroke.
One of the most common cooling advice that circulates the internet is to place wet towels in front of box fans. This works great if the relative humidity is low. If not, then you’re just increasing the humidity even further and hindering your body’s ability to regulate heat.
An alternative to this method is to place frozen gallon jugs or water bottles in front of your fan instead. This way you can transfer your heat to the cold air from the frozen jug or water bottle, and as a bonus you get to drink the cool water when the ice melts. Cooling and hydration!
Watch What You Wear
Clothes can trap your body heat which in turn reduces the effectiveness of all the methods listed above. Those working from home have the advantage of being able to wear as little clothing as possible.
For everyone else, then you’d want to wear clothes that allow heat to easily pass through them. These are usually clothes made of natural fibres like cotton, linen, and bamboo blends.
If the relative humidity is low, then moisture wicking clothes are also good options. These are usually clothes made out of synthetic fibres like polyester. For the best of both worlds, you can look for clothes made out of cotton and polyester blends.
If you’re going to be exposed to the sun, then it’s better to be all covered up. It might seem like a good idea to wear as little as possible, but if it’s 40°C outside then your body heat is the least of your concerns. So wear a hat and cover your arms and legs. Keep safe and don’t forget the sunscreen!