How to keep a house cool

By Tom Drake | 31st May 2023 | 5 min read

Stay cool as the temperatures rise

Whilst the shining sun can make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise, sometimes our homes can heat up too. When the temperature soars, we all want to bask in the rays but when we come inside, we need some relief to feel comfortable. There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning through the night, overheating while cooking or melting on the sofa trying to enjoy your evening.

Let us help you keep chilled through the summer with our guide on how to keep your house cool.

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Open windows and curtains at the right time of day

When you wake up on a sunny day, it can be tempting to throw open the curtains and roll up the blinds to fill the house with that bright glow. However, when temperatures start to rise, it’s much better to keep your windows covered, especially on south and west facing walls.

As evening approaches and the sun starts to set, you can open your windows again to allow your home to get a good dose of the cool air. A rule of thumb is to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside temperature.

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Choose the right window covering

All curtains and blinds are designed to keep out the light, but some are more effective when it comes to keeping you chilled. Black out blinds and curtains will do a much better job of blocking the sun.

If you’re looking for something different, take a look at our range of shutters, ever popular in hotter countries for their ability to keep out the heat. We work in partnership with California Shutters, the UK's no1 DIY shutter specialists, to bring you a range of premium quality plantation shutters, made to measure and delivered directly to your door.

Air conditioning

In the past, air conditioning wasn’t a common sight in UK homes. However, as summer temperature records continue to be broken and heatwaves become more common, many more people are taking the decision to install air conditioning in their homes. Air conditioners are more affordable than you might think and they can be installed easily using a window kit, which reduces the need for drilling into your walls to fit vents.

Portable air conditioners are an ideal solution for UK homes as they can be moved from room to room depending on where you need to cool. Localising the area you're cooling can also help you save on your energy bills. For example, rather than installing and running air con in every room, you can keep your portable air conditioner in your home office during the day, move it to your living room in the evening, then use it to keep your bedroom cool at night.

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Use light paints to prevent heat absorption

As heatwaves become more common in the UK, it’s going to become increasingly important to take the summer heat into account when designing your home. Darker wall colours will absorb heat, whereas lighter colours will reflect it. If you have a room in your home which is particularly warm in the summer, paint it a lighter colour to prevent heat absorption which will raise the temperature.

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Choose the right bedding

By making some simple changes to your bed ahead of the hot weather, you can prepare yourself for snoozing in comfort. Firstly, it’s a good idea to swap out any jersey or synthetic bedding for cotton or linen. Both are known for being porous and breathable, so the hot air won’t get trapped under the sheets with you.

If you like it extra chilled, you could swap out your duvet for a light blanket so instead of being weighed down, you’ll be free to feel the breeze.

Giving up the quilt might be a step too far, so you can choose a low tog one specifically designed for summer nights.

Bed sheets in the freezer

For a good nights sleep, you can pop your sheets in a plastic bag and into the freezer a few minutes before you plan to go to bed. You’ll now have a nice cold sheet to curl up inside, which will cool you down and help you drift off to sleep.

Use a fan to keep cool

Choosing the perfect fan is your first step to controlling your temperature. Sitting in a stream of luxurious fresh air is a wonderful way to keep the heat at bay. There are a few important features to consider when buying your fan. These include oscillating, so it’ll move the air around your space, speed control, so you can choose how strong you want the airflow to be, and programming, so you have different modes depending on what you’re doing. You can also choose from different types of fans.

Tower fans feature a tall column and push the air from the floor upwards. Pedestal fans feature a round fan head on an adjustable stand. Some even have a new handy storage feature, which means you can fold them down and pop them away when the temperature drops.

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Avoid using appliances that give off heat

As the temperatures rise, it’s a good idea to avoid using appliances which give off high levels of heat. Items such as ovens and tumble dryers in particular will cause your kitchen to warm up, so hang your washing up outside where possible, look for meals which don’t need to be cooked in an oven, or consider investing in an air fryer.

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Close the doors of unused rooms

In the same way that it feels counter-intuitive to close windows during a heatwave, you might also be tempted to open all the doors in your home to let the air circulate. However, this may not always be the best course of action.

If you have warmer spots in your home, for example if one side of your home receives a large amount of sun at certain times of the day, you can close internal doors to prevent this warmer air moving towards cooler rooms. Similarly, if you are using an air conditioner, keeping the door closed of the room it's in will help keep that room cooler, whilst also saving you money as the system won’t have to work hard to try and cool a large area.

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DIY air conditioner

Create your own air conditioning with just a bowl of ice and a fan. Place your bowl in front of your fan and it’ll send a breeze over the ice, sending chilled water vapour out into your space.

Hang a damp sheet near an open window

When the temperature is high but there's a breeze, hang a damp sheet over your window. The sheet will cool the air as it moves into your room, which will help lower the temperature.

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House plants

One of the many benefits of having plants in your home is their ability to cool it down.

Plants go through a process called transpiration, which in basic terms means some of the water taken in by plants is ‘sweated’ out. As the sweat begins to evaporate, heat will be removed from the air which will in turn help your home cool down.

For help choosing the right house plants for you, take a look at our buying guide.

Focus on lower level rooms

When you’re trying to keep yourself cool during a heatwave, sometimes it’s a good idea to focus on keeping a few areas cool and spend your time there, rather than trying to reduce the temperature of your entire home. If you’re going for this method, we recommend focusing on the lower levels. Heat will always rise and as a result downstairs rooms will usually be cooler than upstairs during warm weather. If you’re struggling to sleep, you could even set up an air bed downstairs for those days when the temperature is unbearable.

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Plant bushes and trees around your home

Although this isn’t a quick fix, plants, bushes and trees will provide external shade to your home. This will prevent direct sunlight hitting your walls and windows, which will in turn help your home stay cooler. Although trees and bushes can take a long time to grow, this could also be something to consider if you’re thinking of taking out any garden foliage as summer approaches.

Hot (cold) water bottle

Fill a hot water bottle with ice and cold water and keep it near your feet. Cooling your feet will lower the overall temperature of your skin and body. It might not sound glamorous, but you’ll thank us later.

Invest in an awning

Awnings are designed to provide shade from the heat to external areas of your home. However, as with trees and bushes, they will also stop direct sunlight hitting doors and windows. This can help make rooms with large windows cooler, so you can enjoy them even in the warmest weather.

Staying cool during a heatwave isn't always easy. Luckily, from investing in air con to cold sheets over the window, there are solutions at a wide range of different price points, so whatever your budget, you can keep your home cool.

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