Keeping Cool in Heatwave

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Article by Tom Bragg

With climate change we have to expect more extreme weather and this year we’ve already had a very wet spring followed by the heatwave and drought.

Here’s a few of ways to stay comfortable in a heatwave:

  • Cool yourself with a water spray, damp towel or cold pack. Have regular cold drinks.
  • Shade your home on the sunny side with external blinds or awnings - drawing curtains or blinds helps too. 
  • Shut windows, vents and doors to keep out hot air, opening them to cool your home at night.
  • Avoid unwanted heating from appliances, lighting or hot pipes.
  • Insulation that helps keep your home warm in winter will also help it stay cool in summer.  
  • There’s more detailed advice on these points at CambridgeCarbonFootprint.org

Older people and young children are most at risk from over-heating, especially if their home is hot.  If you know people like this, and your home is fairly cool, can you be neighbourly and invite them to cool off or maybe offer practical help?

But some brand new homes still get uncomfortably hot:

Last year, one of our volunteers, who was trained and lent a thermal imaging camera, helped a friend with a lovely new sunny flat in Trumpington Meadows understand why her flat was unbearably hot. The over-heating was mainly caused by having large windows on the sunny side, without any external shading, and by not having any through-ventilation. Imaging revealed that it was made worse by many poorly insulated hot pipes that ran through the flat.  Our volunteer advised using blinds to keep the sun out and provided the thermal images to help get the developer to insulate the pipes properly. Sadly this remains an all too common example of a new home built without the design details keep it comfortable in heatwaves.  

The UK independent Committee on Climate Change says new homes must be designed and built to be prepared for a changing climate, and that this needs to be put into building regulations, along with effective enforcement of the standards.

See our free event on ‘Getting Your Home Ready for Climate Change’ at St Barnabas Church, Mill Rd, CB1 2BD on 15th October, openecohomes.org/events

A version of this blog post first appeared in the Cambridge Independent on the 18th July 2018