Working from home?
Find out how to keep cool when it’s hot!
There are some fantastic innovations in the home heating and cooling industry which we’ll talk more about over the coming months (like heat pumps), but in the very short term, there are a number of quick wins available to help you keep cool when it’s hot outside!
Sounds basic, but opening windows on shaded areas of your house will have more impact than opening those which are in direct sunlight. Try to manage this throughout the day where you can to let in only the cooler air. If you can, leave windows open during the night when it’s cooler both to keep it more comfortable to sleep and to get rid of warmer air which may have built up during the day. Some also advise hanging a damp bedsheet next to open windows to cool the air as it enters. Leave internal doors open to help air circulate.
Close the curtains
As much as it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do, curtains can keep heat out as well as in. When it’s warm outside, closing the curtains acts as a barrier to the sun so you can maintain the cooler temperature you have indoors.
This doesn’t initially sound like a good way to keep cool, but uninsulated hot water pipes inside your home can let off as much heat as a radiator (depending on their size). You have the option to remove the summer insulation in winter, as long as it’s not going to cause issues with your pipes freezing.
Turn off any standby electrical devices, which create heat – the impact of one may be negligible, but a few may help. Also, if you have an electric oven – or gas for that matter – try not to use it if you can.
Using smart heating controls to set the thermostat in your home can save you money on energy and help with the temperature from room to room by using multi-zone heating packages with smart radiator values. Remember to only use your boiler when it’s necessary in warm weather. Find out how to get smart heating controls installed here.
Swap that winter duvet for light-coloured cotton bedsheets that help your skin to breathe.
Whilst turning electrics off is advised, perhaps consider using a fan, but with the added benefit of a bowl of cold water or ice in front of it to cool the air even more.
Now, a bit about how to stay cool and safe personally. The human body’s core temperature is around 37.5C. As the outside temperature gets hotter, the body has to work hard to keep the temperature down, which should lead to sweating as more blood vessels are opened near the surface of the skin.
This is a good thing, but it can lead to lower blood pressure which means the body needs to work harder again to keep oxygen flowing and can increase the risk of heart attacks.
Sweating also means the body loses fluid and salt leading to dehydration.
All of that can cause heat exhaustion
The symptoms for which are:
- Muscle cramps
- Heavy sweating
What to do if you recognise any of those signs?
- Move to a cool and shaded place.
- Cool down with a fan, water spray or cool sponge. The neck and underarms are good places to target to cool down specifically.
- Drink water or rehydration drinks.
- Lie down, with your feet slightly higher to help blood flow.
If sweating stops, it’s possible that the person has developed heatstroke which typically happens once the body reaches 40C, and may lead to a loss of consciousness or seizures. In this case, or if any of the above symptoms last for more than 30 minutes, call 999.
As with most things, prevention is better than cure, so follow these tips to avoid any issues in the first place:
- Whilst tempting to stay out as long as you can in the sun, consider shorter periods split by breaks in the shade.
- Wear a hat to keep the sun at bay, and wear loose, light clothing. Eye protection is advised also.
- Drink plenty of liquids and stay hydrated – drinking tea and coffee is ok too, but avoid excessive alcohol as it can dehydrate you.
- Change your behaviour or routine to suit the conditions – if you usually do intense outdoor exercise at midday, then start your routine at a cooler time of day. e.g. morning/evening.
- Don’t forget to check your suncream’s UVA and UVB ratings. Whilst suncream alone does not stop you from becoming dehydrated, it will protect your skin from burning which can be very serious.
For more information on how to keep you and your family safe, visit the NHS site on sun safety.