The current heatwave is a taste of things to come and CIBSE has some advice on living comfortably with increasing heat.
You’ll probably find your house uncomfortably hot this week. For now, this is something that is likely to last only for a couple of days, but as climate change experts warn that we in the UK will need to get used to progressively higher summer temperatures, how do we live comfortably in homes that are more designed to prioritise keeping us warm in winter over keeping us cool in summer?
Dr Anastasia Mylona, from The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), has some practical advice to help.
“Look to the continent. Countries that are used to dealing with very hot summers can provide some great tips on keeping cool as it gets hotter here in the UK.”
CIBSE’s five top tips are:
- Ventilate – keep all windows and doors that do not have the sun on them open if possible. Try and make sure you have windows open on both sides of your building to get through-ventilation that will “purge” hot air. Also open windows at the top of the house and on the ground floor: hot air rises and you can create a “chimney stack” effect that draws air up through the house and out at the top. If your bedroom is at the top, make sure you open all the windows a couple of hours before you go to bed.
- Stop the sun coming in. External blinds are best, but most windows in UK homes open outwards. Alternatively, an awning blind over the top of the window can provide shade which will have the same effect. Internal blinds and curtains help too, but once the sun’s heat is inside the building (eg absorbed by curtain fabric), it’s only a matter of time before it disperses into the rest of the home.
- Use fans to move the air around and speed up evaporation.
- Keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house as evaporation helps cool the air.
- Turn off all unnecessary electrical appliances.
Longer term, try to use trees or plants to provide shade around the building during summer and make sure that your house is well insulated. Insulation not only keeps warmth in, during the winter, but it also keeps heat out in the summer. Provided you have good ventilation, well-insulated homes will be more comfortable all year round.
“We’re expecting summer temperatures in the UK to rise quite quickly over the next decades” explains Dr Mylona. CIBSE uses Met Office observations and climate projections to provide weather data for people designing the buildings of the future.
“The hottest summer recently was in 2018. According to UK Climate Projections (UKCP18) we expect to see that kind of summer every 10 years at the moment. By 2050 it’ll be every other year and by the end of the century, all our summers are likely to include prolonged spells of temperatures in the high 30-degree range.
“We’re just not used to it and our buildings are not designed to deal with it, so we have to get used to taking simple practical steps to help make hot summers more comfortable.”
You can find out more about CIBSE's position on overheating, along with a list of relevant resources via https://www.cibse.org/policy-insight/position-statements-and-briefings/overheating-position-statement