In Britain we’re not usually blessed with temperate enough weather to necessitate installing fancy air conditioning units in our homes, even in hotter countries there has been a deliberate move to reduce the use of aircon due to its massive energy consumption. So, what can we do to keep cool in the summer heat? (Aside from spending all afternoon walking around the local supermarket sponging their air con).
The trouble we face like many countries that endure mild winters is that we generally have our houses geared to keeping us warm when the temperature is low, this means that when the sun comes our homes are woefully unequipped to keep us cool — those thick carpets and the Aga are wonderful in the winter, but soon turn into our number one enemy when heat rises.
We know that most will agree that a warm summer is a wonderful thing, but there are times when it’s nice to be able to cool off, for example when we’re trying to sleep at night. So, if you’re worried the recent heatwave’s going to keep you flipping your pillow to cool side all night, do not fret! Here’s our guide to keeping your home cool this summer:
We know this sounds utterly counterproductive, the idea that stuffing every nook and cranny of your home with thick, warm insulating material will help you keep cool may seem like lunacy but, it’s true. Insulating foam and other types of insulation keep the cold air in and hot air out, in the same way they do the opposite in cooler weather.
2. Paint it white
There’s a reason why we tend to wear white clothing in the summer and why our friends on the continent white wash their homes! White reflects the sun's rays – this means that your home’s exterior will absorb less heat and will thus be better at staying cool.
3. Close your curtains/blinds
This is another way to keep the home cool which on instinct can seem wrong. We’re conditioned to rip open the curtains at the first sight of natural light and to only draw them when the sun sets. But anyone who has lived in a hot country before will tell you, that closing the curtains to block out the sun can do wonders to keep a room cool, countries around the Med tend to do this for the hottest part of the day (between 12:00 and 17:00) so they come home to a pleasantly cool home. You may want to consider replacing darker curtains with white ones for the summer. Or installing window shutters which are even more effective at keeping the heat out.
4. Create an airflow
Most people don’t realise that merely opening one window in the home is if anything on a really hot day make a room even warmer. The secret is to create an air-flow so you get a calming breeze run through the home.
If you live in a Victorian property there’s a good chance you have sash windows, which are specifically designed for this purpose, opening both the top and bottom panels will cause cold air to flow in through the bottom opening, while hot air escapes through the top.
5. Throw some shade…from your garden
Planting trees and shrubs near your home will provide some welcome shade when temperature soars. Some plants such as ferns even physically help to cool the air! A verdant garden will also reduce pollution and increase the oxygen in the air, helping you to breathe easier and stopping you feeling so sluggish in high temperatures.
6. Install reflective window film
Its appearance may not be to everyone’s taste but UV reflective window film has some fantastic properties when it comes to maintaining a moderate temperate in the home. Dramatically cutting the amount of UV light and glare that enters your home through its windows. Installing reflective window film may also be advisable if you have antique furnishings, artwork or wallpaper that you are worried about fading, as the primary cause of which is UV rays.
7. Add an awning
An awning is another way you can cut the solar heat gained through windows or doors in your home. They also provide a great shady spot to sit and relax under if you want to avoid the full brunt of the sun’s rays. They also add a Victorian seaside aesthetic to the home, evoking images of ‘croquet and Pimm’s on the lawn’. What's more, when the inevitable British Summer showers come you'll have a nice shelter so you can carry on eating your lunch outside.
8. Shut down your electronics
Every appliance and electronic you have plugged in even if unused will be giving off a small amount of heat. However, all added together electronics can become a significant contributing factor to a building’s temperature, this can be easily remedied however by switching off all unused appliances, laptops and chargers and see both your home’s temperature and electricity bills drop.
Now, that you know some ways to keep your home comfortably cool, why not read about how you can get the most from the summer? Check out our guides to getting your garden perfect for summer below!