Beat the heat (on a budget): Seven cost-effective ways to keep cool during a heatwave without energy-draining fans or air-con units
Britons are facing a heatwave this week with temperatures in the mid-30s predicted in what is set to be the hottest week of the year.
The Met Office also issued a Level Three Heat Health Alert, urging people to check in on those most vulnerable, and avoiding the sunshine and heat at much as possible.
Warm summer days can get pretty uncomfortable, and as very few Britons have the option of an air conditioning, many are scrambling for ways to stay cool.
Britons are looking for ways to cool off during the heatwave, but with energy costs set to soar, This is Money looks at the ways to cool your home without overspending on your bills
But, if you are on a budget, it may not be as simple as filling your home with expensive fan units or bulky, energy-draining air conditioning – especially with energy prices at record highs.
Here are seven extremely simple yet cost effective ways to keep cool in a heatwave without increasing your energy bill in the process. Most of it is a refresher in common sense.
1. Stay hydrated
Our bodies are good at regulating when temperatures soar, and while sweating may seem like an inconvenience, it’s one of the most effective ways of cooling your skin down.
But it’s essential you keep on top of your hydration, as dehydration could leave you at risk of heat stroke.
The NHS recommends that you try to drink around 2 litres of water a day to stay hydrated, and even more if you are particularly active, or when the heat rises.
Start by keeping a bottle of water ready to go, and sip on it throughout the day. You could also opt for a thermal cooling bottle to keep your water ice cold while you’re out and about.
Keep a spare bottle in the fridge too if you are at home, and top up your empty bottle as soon as you finish it to ensure you have a steady stream of cool water.
And while an ice-cold beer sounds great, it could leave you feeling worse off, as alcohol dehydrates you more.
Caffeine is also known to dehydrate you, but should be fine to consume in small amounts, and with plenty of hydration from water throughout the day.
One of the best ways to stay cool this summer is to drink plenty of water: you can avoid extra spending when out and about by carrying a thermal bottle and filling up at free refill stations
2. Turn your hot water bottle into an ice pack
If you are looking for a reasonably quick way to cool you down throughout the day, try switching out your hot water bottle for an ice pack.
You may not think that your hot water bottle will work once frozen, but by popping it in the freezer for a few hours, you’ll have the perfect ice pack without worrying about the mess.
You could stash your ice pack in the bed before you get in, or place it under your feet, to help you regulate your temperature while you are working from home.
Laura Rich, a Furniturebox product developer, said: ‘This is an old-school tip, but it still works a treat.
‘Holding an icepack (or anything cool) on your wrist is a great way to bring down body heat before bed, especially if you’ve been active all day or don’t have time for a shower’.
3. Take a warm-ish shower before bed
Sometimes the best way to fight the heat is to trick your body into thinking it’s cooler and a quick way to do that is with a tepid shower right before bed.
Britons are taking the plunge to cool off this week as temperatures expect to hit 33C
As counterintuitive as it may seem, you shouldn’t turn your shower onto the coldest temperatures, as it can help your body to conserve heat by causing blood vessels in the skin to constrict.
One of the body’s key strategies for heat loss is bringing the blood closer to the skin’s surface, so the heat can radiate out.
This is why its normal to look flushed when its warm outside.
Longer immersion in cold water, such as going for a swim or taking a dip in the ocean, can gradually cool the body, but showering in tepid water boosts blood flow to the skin and subsequently increases heat loss.
4. Keep your blackout blinds closed
One of our first instincts when the sun is shinning is the open the curtains and windows, however, you could be slowly turning your home into a greenhouse.
A good rule of thumb is that if your room receives direct sunlight throughout the day, you should keep your curtains closed wherever possible.
If you have the spare cash to make the upgrade, it would be worth investing in blackout curtains, or even just dark coloured fabrics, as it could reduce the heat in your home by 24 per cent.
If your home sees a lot of sunlight, it could be worth the long-term investment to install shutters on the outside of your window.
The move could also help you save on your winter energy bills, as they can help your home retain heat, as much as they reflect the summer heat away.
Outdoor shutters can help block out the sun to keep your home cool and are a long-term investment that could even see your energy bills cut back in the winter months
Shutters would also allow you to have your windows open, without letting the sunlight in, further helping to cool your home.
If you are really stuck for cash, but want a quick solution to your heating problem, you could simply add some DIY window insulation, such as cardboard, newspaper, or foil to help reflect some of the blasting heat coming into your home.
It may not look like the classiest option, but it will help make your home more comfortable during the peak hours of the day.
If you’re not fancying working all day with your curtains closed, Laura Rich suggest you treat your new curtains like a statement feature.
She said: ‘We recommend you style blackout curtains by imagining them as a feature wall, similar to colour blocking which is used by designers to draw the eye to certain areas of the room.
‘To contrast the blackout curtains, fill the rest of your bedroom with a bright and breezy summer palette. Think zesty lemon or an airy pastel blue.’
You should also avoid having your windows open once the temperature outside is warmer than your home, as the draft could simply be bringing warmer air inside.
5. Swap your textiles for linen or bamboo to sleep
Swapping your textiles is a great way to help you sleep through summer.
Switch out your your cosy winter duvet if you haven’t already, for something more weather-appropriate: a 4.5 tog to do the trick during the typical UK summer.
But if you’re struggling with the heat, experts suggest forgoing a duvet altogether in favour of thin bed sheets and breathable materials.
The NHS is urging Britons to take care when out this week as soaring temperatures leave you at risk of heat stroke and dehydration
Linen sheets are a great option, as the light and breezy material wicks away sweat to keep your body cool through the night.
The structure of linen absorbs a fifth of its weight before feeling hot or damp, so you don’t need to worry about those uncomfortable night sweats.
It’s recommended that adults have their bedrooms set to 18C to get a good nights rest, but babies, infants and young children benefit from a few extra degrees, around 20C, according to Sleep Foundation.
You should also avoid over-layering children through a summer’s night, replace heavy blankets with much lighter ones and monitor temperature by touching your little ones’ belly and nape of the neck.
Rich said: ‘Linen has, for a very long time, been the gold standard material for a great night’s sleep – but many new and trending textiles are giving this classic some fresh competition.
‘Bamboo is one such example. The on-trend material regulates heat incredibly well. Like linen, bamboo can wick away lots of sweat, plus it makes for super comfy pillow covers!
‘The small gaps in the bamboo fabric allow heat to escape from pillows, keeping your head cool and dry through the night. Bamboo also has anti-bacterial properties, so it’s less likely to harbour bad odours that will only get worse in the heat.’
Make your fan more efficient at cooling you while you work from home by placing a bowl of ice in front of it, or on the floor to allow the cooler air to rise and circulate throughout your home
6. Use a fan wisely with ice packs
Less than one per cent of UK homes reportedly have air conditioning, which means the fast majority will be sweating out the heatwave together.
But, if at this point you’ve decided you don’t mind the slight bump in your energy bill, you could try turning your desk fan into a makeshift air-con.
A quick way to convert your fan into air-con is by placing a frozen bottle of water in front of your fan, as this should produce a similar, if slightly less effective, cooling breeze.
You can take this to the next step by filling a roasting tray or large bowl with ice, though you should ensure your set up won’t be knocked, as the ice will quickly turn to water, which could mean bad news for your electronics if something went wrong.
7. Home upgrades and effective insulation
Another long-term solution to keeping your home cool is to invest in some likely, much needed home upgrades from energy-efficient windows to insulation.
Swapping your windows for energy-efficient panes not only helps keep your home cooler in the summer, but it will also help your home retain heat in the winter, which means you could see your energy bill get a little lower in the winter months.
And, while most people associate building insulation with cold weather and keeping heat in, it’s just as good at keeping the heat out too.
Insulated window films are a cost effective way to cool your home in the summer, whilst trapping heat indoors in the cooler months, which could save you money on your energy bills
Some lightbulbs are also huge energy drainers, which could be costing you more in energy bills, as well as heating up your home further.
When the time comes to swap your bulbs go for an LED bulb instead so you can reduce wasted heat and cool the room down.
If you are looking for a cheaper way to improve your home, why not try insulated films on your windows instead.
Thermal window films can provide year-round energy savings by blocking heat and glare during the warmer summer months while reducing the heat that escapes from your home throughout winter.
Some insulation films can reduce heat transfer of the window by up to 50 per cent and block up to 70 per cent of solar heat gain, and can be bought from most hardware stores, such as B&Q or Wickes.