For most of us, a room temperature of around 20°C is ideal. Above our comfort zone, irritability soon sets in, accompanied by poor concentration and lethargy. To make matters even worse, hot bedrooms are responsible for disturbed sleep patterns and bring fatigue into the equation.
A hot environment can exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema, while the dehydrating effects also irritate our nasal passages and eyes. When heatwaves strike, especially if night-time temperatures remain high, our bodies can become exhausted through dehydration and an imbalance in salt levels.
Prolonged exposure can even lead to heat stroke, the most serious medical complication of elevated temperatures, occurring when we lose the ability to sweat. Want some tips on how to cool down a room? Here are our 10 best ways to beat the heat.
1. Keep curtains or blinds closed during the day
We’ve all heard of the greenhouse effect, but what we seldom consider is that our own homes can act like greenhouses. Responsible for an estimated 30% of the unwanted heat in our houses, infrared radiation from the sun easily passes through our windows, making temperatures soar inside.
Simply keeping curtains and blinds closed during the daytime reduces the amount of radiation that makes it into a room. If the thought of being in the dark all day is too much, focus on the south and west-facing windows which are exposed to the sun’s rays at the hottest times. It’s also worth noting that lighter-coloured curtains and blinds will reflect more of the heat away from the room.
2. Turn off electronics that give off heat
Everyone knows that our electronics give out heat when we use them. What some people don’t realise is that a lot of these appliances continue to emit heat when they are on standby or turned off.
How many of us leave our mobile phones charging overnight or our laptops in the docking station?
Even once the phone or laptop is charged, the voltage transformers on the plug are still consuming energy and that means heat is still being emitted.
To prevent electronics adding uncomfortable degrees to the home, turn them off at the plug when not in use. Also, get into the habit of charging mobile phones and laptops before bedtime, so they’re not left plugged in all night. With the number of appliances that are now part of our everyday lives, this can make quite a difference – plus it saves on the electricity bill.
3. Keep a fan blowing across ice
When thinking about how to keep your house cool, most people will reach for the fan. However, blowing warm air around the room can be even worse than not using a fan at all.
Answer: Place some ice packs (frozen water bottles do the job just as well) or a shallow bowl of ice in front of the fan. As the fan blows over the ice, the warm air is cooled down, providing a gloriously refreshing breeze. An added benefit is that, as the ice melts, some of the moisture evaporates. In conditions where the heat is very dry, this gives welcome relief from the dehydrating atmosphere.
4. Use an efficient fan
One of the most popular solutions to keeping cool is to use a fan. With so many designs on the market, choosing a fan can be a little baffling. However, the key things to consider are power and the volume of air that can be circulated.
The traditional desk fan is fine for smaller rooms, tending to be less powerful and with smaller blades. For better circulation of air, pedestal or floor fans are a larger version of the desk fan and rotating tower fans are particularly good where space is limited. Then, there are the new bladeless fans which provide a powerful and smooth flow of air around the room; expensive, but highly efficient.
5. Choose breathable bed sheets
How to keep cool at night is a problem for many of us over the warmer months. Choosing natural materials for our bed linen can help to keep us cool and dry throughout the night, allowing us to get some much-needed sleep. Unlike synthetics, natural fabrics allow heat to escape easily and are also excellent at wicking moisture away from the skin.
Cotton is a popular choice of material for bed sheets, as is percale – cotton with a higher thread count. Although a higher thread count can be a sign of quality, it’s worth bearing in mind that more fibres per square inch also means a denser, more tightly-woven material, which may not be as breathable.
Silk is the luxurious option for breathable bed sheets and has a feather-light touch. However, sateen (cotton that has been woven to give a glossy finish) does offer some of the same feel of silk, but without the price tag.
6. Use a portable air conditioner
Unlike traditional fans, air conditioners treat the air that they draw in before recirculating it around the room. When hot air enters the unit, a cold evaporator coil cools it down and removes moisture. Not only does this lower the temperature, it reduces humidity, too.
The combination of cooling and dehumidifying, makes air conditioners a very effective way of controlling the indoor environment.
Portable units can be moved to wherever they are needed in the house: upstairs for a comfortable night’s sleep, downstairs in the family room, or even in the home gym to keep cool and dry while exercising. This comfort does come at a price though and running costs also need to be factored in.
7. Declutter the room
When considering how to cool down a room, tidying up probably doesn’t spring to mind. But it’s true, decluttering can actually help to keep those temperatures down.
Every object absorbs and gives out heat. The darker and more matt the item, the more heat it will take in and then emit. Clothes, cushions, throws and soft toys are all excellent at giving out heat and so will serve only to increase room temperature.
One of the simplest ways to declutter in the bedroom is to put clothes away in wardrobes and drawers. Children’s bedrooms are often full of soft toys – invest in some colourful boxes that these can be kept in when not in use. If there are soft furnishings around the house, such as cushions and throws, consider storing these away over the warmer months.
8. Sleep in a hammock
The ultimate solution to how to keep cool at night: sleep in a hammock. Allowing air to circulate all around the body, a hammock is the perfect place for slumber when the weather gets too hot to handle.
Taking up very little space, a hammock can fit easily into a spare room or even the garden. Available with stands or attachments that can be fixed to walls and trees, hammocks can be put up almost anywhere. While most hammocks are made from synthetic materials, for extra comfort on a warm night, consider cotton and other natural fibres.
9. Keep windows open
Hot air will try to move into areas of colder air – that’s physics. So, when a window is left open during a hot day, convection currents will transfer heat energy from outside into a cooler house. By keeping windows closed during the day, the hot air can’t get in as easily and the colder air can stay inside.
Of course, the opposite applies too. On a cool night, open all the windows to allow the warmer air to flow out of the room and be replaced by colder air. As hot air rises, this process can be made even more efficient by opening top windows.
10. Paint rooms and install hard floors
Why does a painted wall feel cold to the touch, whereas one that has been wallpapered feels warm?
Well, wallpaper helps to insulate our walls. This extra layer makes it harder for houses to lose heat through conduction. By painting rather than wallpapering, there is less to stop heat escaping through the walls, leading to a cooler home.
Carpets do an even better job of insulating the floor. The combination of fabric pile and air that gets trapped between the fibres, prevents a substantial amount of heat loss through the floor.
For a nice cool surface to walk on barefoot in the summer months, which also helps to conduct heat away from the room, opt for hard floors rather than carpets.