When temperatures rise to unseasonable levels, as they seem to do more regularly these days, it can make it difficult to work, sleep and simply live. This is especially true in countries such as the UK where homes aren’t set up for really hot weather. But we’ve got some tips on changing your habits and the way you use your appliances to help you make it through the heatwave – especially if you’re working from home. Obviously, they are aimed at homes that don’t have the benefit of air conditioning, but you can still use them if only certain rooms have air-con.
1. An ice start to the day
Swap your morning coffee for an iced coffee. Breville sells an easy-to-use iced coffee maker but a dedicated machine really isn’t necessary. Just fill a glass with ice (and ice-cold milk, if that’s how you take it), make your coffee as usual, and pour it over.
This is also a good time to brush up on your smoothie making skills. You’ll probably feel less hungry as the temperature rises but a smoothie is chilled and hydrating. You can add add protein powder, oats, fruit and even veggies (if you have a strong stomach and you like a challenge).
2. Enlist your fridge and freezer
Dig out your hot water bottle and fill it with cold water from the fridge to make a cold pack for the small of your back.
If you need more help to keep cool, and don’t mind risking damage to your hot water bottle, you can fill it two thirds with water and freeze it to use as an ice pack. Remember to leave plenty of space for the water to expand when it freezes – it’ll increase by about 9% in volume.
So you’ve always got cold drinks ready during the day, half fill some water bottles and lay them on their sides in the freezer. Whenever you want a drink, get one out and fill it up with juice or water. If you’re likely to forget to stay hydrated, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to chug a glass of water regularly.
3. Close the windows, curtains / blinds
Even though it may seem counterintuitive, close your windows. Just as in cold weather, they work in reverse, keeping the hot air out of your home. And though it may feel more stuffy, close your curtains and let down your blinds to stop the sun from shining through the windows and – like a greenhouse – heating up your rooms.
If you don’t already have one, now is the time to invest in a fan. More than one, ideally. (Even better, if you can afford it, get a portable air conditioner instead.)
If you only have yourself to worry about, you can obviously put your fan as near to you as possible to achieve the dog sticking his head out of a car window effect.
But, if you’re trying to cool down an entire room, there are some other fan placement ideas to try.
As long as your windows aren’t getting too much direct sunlight, you can put one fan in front of an open window, facing out of the room, to help to push warm air out. If you have a second fan, place it facing inwards to help circulate the cooler air. This is the best way to set up your fans to cool a room when you come in from work at the end of the day or prepare your bedroom to sleep in.
4. Get a midday boost
When the temperature rises in the middle of the day, you might need some extra help. You’ve heard the trick of putting a bowl of ice cubes in front of a fan to cool the air more. Instead of using ice cubes, fill Tupperware containers or bowls with water and freeze them.
You’ll end up with big chunks of ice, which will last much longer. It won’t chill the air as much as using ice cubes, as there’s less surface area for the air to pass through. But when every degree counts, this will give you a longer cooling boost that may get you through the middle of the day.
5. Stay away from your oven
When evening rolls around, you may well be sick of cucumber and broccoli smoothies (to be fair, I’m sick at just the thought of them). You may even decide you want hot food. Whatever you do, don’t turn on your oven or hob, as they will heat up your kitchen, cooking you as you cook. An air fryer or microwave is a better bet for heatwave cooking.
5. Get the best sleep possible
Sleeping isn’t easy during a heatwave but there are a few things you can try to make it a bit more bearable.
Open your windows and set up fans in your bedroom as outlined above, with one fan in front of an open window, facing out of the room, and a second fan facing inwards to circulate the air. Take a cool shower and grab one of the cold water bottles you prepared earlier to use as a cold pack in bed.
Good luck! You might also want to check out our articles on how to keep your laptop cool and how to cool down a hot iPhone.