We’ve all spent a few nights tossing and turning unable to get comfortable in the muggy stifling heat of a British summer. We’ve also mostly found ourselves trying to work at a desk, prepare dinner, or keep children entertained while feeling the cloying heat sap our energy.
The temptation to go out and buy air conditioning units is alluring. However, in the UK it’s rarely worth it, and that’s before you factor in that air-conditioning can increase your home’s energy inefficiency by a staggering 100%.
So what is the best way to cool a room?
In reality, there is no ‘best’ way to cool a room. In fact, to keep rooms cool you want to be using a combination of different methods. Let’s take a look.
You don’t have to remember your secondary school physics lessons to remember that light (particularly sunlight) equals heat. Therefore, you need to keep the harsh summer sun out of your home.
The easiest way to do this is to make sure your blinds and curtains are closed during the day. If they are blackout blinds and curtains then even better.
Working out how to keep the room cool requires playing a game of cat and mouse with doors and windows. During the hotter parts of the day, doors and windows should actually be kept closed. They should be opened once it’s dark, or the air outside is cooler than inside.
Furthermore, at times when they are open, work to maximise the through draft by opening several in a ‘chain’.
Similarly, keep doors closed to areas of the house that aren’t in use. Maximise your cooling efforts in the spaces you occupy.
Ovens and hobs kick out a powerful amount of heat which is then often trapped in your kitchen and surrounding rooms. Keep the room cool by opting for salads and cold options instead of adding to the heat.
If you want hot food, then head outside and cook over the BBQ instead.
Heat rises, so avoid upstairs when you can. It may be worth it on particularly warm nights to move sleeping quarters to downstairs, or even under the stars in the garden.
If you’re still desperate to reduce the temperature and have a fan, then knowing how to use them to best effect is invaluable. Don’t simply switch it on without much thought.
Instead, position the fan so that it is drawing cooler air from a window (at night). Furthermore, place a bowl of cold water (or ice) under the breeze from the fan. This ensures that the air blowing in your direction is particularly cool.
Sometimes it is easier to think about cooling yourself rather than the atmosphere around you. Wear light cottons and use cotton bedding. Sip cool drinks and apply cold cans to strong-pulsed points on your body. Freeze ‘hot’ water bottles of cold water and place in your bed wrapped in a tea towel.
It’s a longer-term solution, but if particular rooms are south facing and really get unbearably hot then consider how you can grow plants or use awnings to shield these rooms from the worst of the heat.
Save sheet washing for really hot days then hang the washed, but wet, sheet to dry over an open window at the cooler part of the day. This will create a breeze to blow in cooling down the room.
If it uses electricity, it’s pumping out heat. Computer hard-drives, gadgets and even light bulbs are kicking out heat which all contributes to raising the temperature of the room. Switch off everything which isn’t needed, and keep lighting low. Only the newer models of TVs don’t emit heat, so put your hand over the screen and see if yours is one of the ‘heat sources’.
By employing a range of different techniques from our above list, you can be sure to keep your rooms cool without wasting energy and spending too many pennies.