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How to keep your house cool during hot weather

Melanie Whitehouse / 07 July 2020 ( 22 June 2022 )

Beat the heat and keep your house comfortably cool during the hottest days of summer.

Desk fan
Keep your home cool during a heatwave with these tips

Easy ways to keep your cool

Block the sun

We all know we lose heat through our windows in winter, but we also gain it through our windows in summer, and particularly those that face the south and the west.

Track the sun throughout the day, opening and closing curtains and blinds to prevent the sun coming in as it moves around the house. This can lower the temperature indoors dramatically. It's particularly beneficial to keep your bedroom curtains drawn so you have a nice, cool room at the end of the day.

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Cool a room quickly

You can cool a room quickly by making your own ‘air con’. Take a big bowl – something unbreakable is best, like a washing-up bowl – and fill it with ice or frozen ice packs. Place it in front of a fan, at an angle, so the rotating air flows through the ice and out into your room, creating a nice cool breeze. You’ll be suitably chilly in no time!

Install an awning

If your house is south-facing, a portable awning on the outside will help to keep the rooms shady. They come in a range of colours and patterns, with prices starting at £80 and going up to hundreds or even thousands for premium styles. and could also keep drizzle off your patio furniture during a bank holiday barbecue.

Turn lights off

Incandescent lights give off a lot of heat, so turn off lights when not in use. Use the washing machine, dishwasher, hob and oven during the cooler parts of the day.

Have some cold compresses on standby

Make yourself some cold compresses with folded rags dipped in cold water, and chill them in the freezer. When you’re too hot, apply them to pulse points on your wrists and neck.

Create a breeze

Once the sun has moved away, open windows and doors wide and let any breeze there is flow in. Create a cross breeze by placing a fan opposite the window.

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Fans and air conditioning

Fans are more efficient in their use of electricity than air conditioning units, but they just move air around and don’t actually cool it. There are lots of models out there, from elegant floor-standing models to tiny desk-tops, but they tend to disappear quickly from DIY stores when the weather gets hot, so nab yours early.

Top-of-the-range fans, such as Dyson, are quiet and powerful and some also purify the air (ideal for allergy sufferers). Be cautious when buying cheap models of fans because many of them, including tower fans (which take up less floor space), make too much noise for you to sleep at night so won't always be the best choice for light sleepers.

Check whether the fan oscillates – useful for keeping air moving – and how many speed settings it has. A lower speed is perfect for night-time – you don’t want to wake up with a stiff neck. Some models come with a timer, so you can cool the room before you get home.

Alternatively, opt for a rotating ceiling fan fitted by a qualified electrician. Some models include integral lighting, killing two birds with one stone.

If you can afford the electricity bills and can’t bear another sultry summer, a portable air conditioning unit usually costs upwards of £200 (some double as heaters as well, so are useful all year round). Check that the unit you want is suitable for your room size before buying.

Find out how to care for dogs in hot weather

How to keep cool at night

Pure cotton sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers breathe with you and will keep you far cooler than synthetic.

Keep a hot water bottle filled with water in the freezer and place it at the foot of the bed before bedtime.

Some people like to mist their bedsheets with cold water shortly before bed to keep body temperature down, but doing so could damage your sheets and encourage bacteria.

Find out more about sleeping well during hot weather

Cool down your garden

Take your inspiration from hot, dry countries like Morocco and include a water feature. Even a small fountain provides a cooling effect.

Read our tips for creating an Islamic-style garden.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.