Keeping your house cool in the heat

The recent hot weather may have been welcomed by some, but for others, especially those who work even part of the time at home, it’s not such good news.
As the heat builds, homes become stuffy and, in many cases, start sizzling like bacon in a pan.
So how can you keep you and your home cool without resorting to adding to our carbon footprint by installing air conditioning?
Electric fans are a good place to start and are a godsend in the heat but it pays to use them wisely. Not only do they consume energy, a consideration given bills are currently rocketing, but if you do use them, position them in the right way to get the most out of them.
Heat rises, so the coolest air in your home is on the ground floor. So, set the fan here and point it upwards and towards the opposite wall so cooler air can bounce off the wall and back into the room where it will mix with the warm air and thus cool it.
One of the easiest hacks is to freeze a bottle of water and then stick it in front of your fan. The breeze from the fan picks up the cool air from the ice’s surface as it melts, creating a cool breeze. An alternative is to put a wet tea towel over the fan or hang a wet sheet near an open window.
In much the same way, turning a hot water bottle into a cold one is great for bedtime. Simply fill with water, pop in the freezer and take out just before you go to bed.
It may sound counter intuitive but closing the windows and doors, particularly during the warmest parts of the day, helps the room stay cooler. Tempting as it may be to fling the windows and doors wide open, this will only let the heat in thus increasing the inside temperature.
Once the outside temperature cools in the evening, it’s OK to open the windows again. This will allow cooler air to circulate around the house.
The room will stay even cooler if curtains and blinds are also closed as they will deflect any direct sunlight. Venetian blinds with the slats completely shut, and blackout blinds which completely block out the sunlight are also a good option.
A good night’s sleep is one of the many casualties of the hot weather so investing in the right bedding is key. Pillow inserts can be used as they are naturally cooling and sateen sheets are better than cotton and less expensive than silk.
Taking a cold or lukewarm shower before bed can help not only cool you down but can also help you sleep. Adding a drop or two of lavender oil on your sheets or pillowcase can also be beneficial.
Switching off lights, TVs and other electrical appliances when they are not in use is a great way to not only save money on your energy bills, but also to stop excess heat building up. Don’t be tempted to leave things on standby though, as energy is still being drained and heat produced. Far better to unplug them totally.
Another very environmentally friendly way forward is house plants. Indoor plants can help keep a house cool when it’s warm as they consume the hot air and release excess water into the air from their leaves, cooling themselves and the environment around them.
House plants are great for cleaning the air generally so the more the merrier but some of the best include rubber plants, palms and Chinese evergreens. Remember they will need watering and feeding but check the instructions when you buy them as even in very hot weather, some don’t need watering unless the compost is bone dry.
All these ideas are relatively inexpensive but if you have some spare cash there are other ways to keep you cool as the temperature soars.
Installing energy efficient windows will help keep heat inside your home so when you have the heating on in winter, you are not losing energy to the outside. In the summer they are great at keeping the sun’s heat outside.
Awnings and shutters will give the maximum amount of shade from the sun’s rays so are a good investment, as is wall insulation as it is great at keeping the heat out as well as keeping the heat in during the colder months.