13 ways to stay cooler in hot weather

14 July 2022

Some may like it hot, but for many people, hot weather can be very uncomfortable – especially when you’re trying to work or sleep. Lots of people we speak to on our advice lines at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) live in homes that get dangerously hot in extreme heat.

Our CSE energy advisors share these top tips to help you stay cool this summer: from how to keep rooms cooler, to how to sleep during a heatwave and we’ve also got some unexpected uses for a hot water bottle and how to create make-shift air con!

1. If you can, use a fan. Energy advisor Will says “A lot of people we speak to are on very low incomes and every penny spent on energy counts. We regularly hear from people worried to turn their fan on because they’re worried about how much energy it’s going to use.”

But the average fan uses less than 100watts of energy and for 1 hour costs less than 3p.

If you’re using fans at night or during the day, put them by a window facing inwards so that they suck in cooler air (provided outside is cooler) and distribute it into the room. If you have a fan on in a room without the windows open, and it’s really stifling in there, the fan just throws hot air around. It acts like an oven!

Hot air rises, so the coolest air in your house is going to be at floor level. Putting your fan on the floor and pointing it upwards will blow cooler air around. Another tip is to position it upwards and point towards an opposite wall - this will bounce cooler air off the wall and back into the room, where it mixes with warm air helping cool the temperature.

2. On south-facing walls, keep windows shut and curtains closed. Our energy advisor Bego grew up in Spain. She says “windows should be shut, and curtains closed on any sides of a house that gets the sun. Otherwise, they just let more heat in. Also, generally, windows should be shut if it is cooler inside than out and open if it’s cooler outside than in. In Spain, blinders or shutters are closed during the day – it’s a bit like living in caves.”

3. Create DIY air con. There are a few ways you can create makeshift air conditioning. Freeze a water bottle and place it in the room, over a plate to catch any drips. If you have a fan, place it in front of it and you will notice a much fresher air circulation.

4. Turn your hot water bottle into an ice pack. CSE’s Pete suggests filling your hot water bottle halfway with water and put it in the freezer a few hours before bed. Once frozen, it’ll emit cold in the same way that it warms you up if you use hot water. Another option is to invest in a Chillow® Cooling Pillow.

5. Energy advisor Katey suggests placing some bowls of water around the house. It might sound a bit odd, but bowls of water help cool hot air. You can also hang a wet sheet. Hanging a wet sheet in front of the window will actually help to bring the room temperate down.

6. Be mindful with your appliance use. CSE Project manager Lisa says “if you can, avoid using anything that heats up like irons, cooker, hobs, hair dryer etc.”

7. Keep to cooler rooms. If you can, try and stay in cooler rooms which will be downstairs and north facing. Hot air rises, so working or sleeping in a room on the ground floor means you’ll feel cooler. If you don’t want to shift your bed downstairs or you live in a flat, you can always move your bedding to the floor.

8. Ditch the duvet – energy advisor Trishna says “Sleep under a sheet instead and also try and use natural fibres like cotton rather than synthetic fibres which aren’t so breathable.”

9. Wet a towel and use it on your shoulders to cool down.

10. Freeze your sheets. Sounds weird, but try it says Will, our energy advisor.  Try placing your sheets in the freezer before you’re about to go to bed. Make sure you place your sheets in a plastic bag before you pop them in the freezer to keep them dry. They won’t stay cold for long, but it's lovely getting into a cold bed!

11. Energy advisor Anne says to take a cold shower before bed. Trick your body into thinking it’s cooler by having a quick cold shower before bed. Don’t do this right after you’ve come in from intense heat because a sudden change in body temperature isn’t good for you.

12. CSE’s Lisa says putting your feet in a bowl of ice water while working from home is a great way to cool down!

13. Wall insulation – we talk about this a LOT at CSE says Ian, our director of household energy services. It’s such an important part of saving energy and keeping warm. But a well-insulated and ventilated home will actually help with keeping the heat out too. If you’re able to invest in insulation do so, just make sure ventilation is considered at the same time.

Have any more tips? Let us know on Twitter! We’d love to share even more tips to help people keep cool in summer.

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