The weather is glorious, like all the missing sunshine from the last two summers has been refunded to us in one go – but it’s also very stuffy at night, so I’ve been coming up with a few ways to keep cool and get a better night’s sleep.
Obviously, if it’s not a security risk, get those windows open. It’s especially good if you can create a direct through-flow of air from the front to the back of where you live, as this creates the most effective breeze. That might mean tucking or pegging the corner of a curtain back, or raising the bottom of a blind slightly, remembering any possible privacy issues. Cost: zero.
If you have reflective thermal linings on your curtains, you can take them down and turn them around so they’re facing outwards instead of inwards. If you then keep your curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day, they will help to reflect the heat back out. Cost: zero.
Going one shade cooler
The next option is electric fans. This is going to add to your fuel bill, but you might decide that it’s better not to be groggy for work in the morning. You probably don’t want to hear me saying this right now, but you can get some amazing deals on these in the winter, when you have the pick of the most efficient models… Anyway, the ones that move from side to side seem to do the best job, moving the air around more.
I’ve also heard it said that having two fans on the go is the most useful, as it can make more of a through draft, but you might decide that’s a step too far with the electricity bill. Otherwise, go for something you can put on your bedside table and direct right onto yourself – you can get hold of some very cheap, small desk fans in pound shops and stationers, either battery operated or plug in, and they can still make a welcome difference even if they aren’t too powerful. Cost: £1 upwards, plus fuel.
Getting ice cold
Something we’ve resorted to here is cool packs. This might just be my top tip actually. Grab yourself some of those ice packs that are designed for use in cool boxes and lunch bags, freeze them up, then wrap them in a clean tea towel and pop them under your pillow. You can also use them to cool the bed down before you get in it, or lie on top of it. They last for years, and you’ll get your money’s worth the first time you use them. Cost: £1 upwards, 3 for £2.50 in supermarkets etc.
I’ve also heard of people filling hot water bottles a third full of water and then freezing that to use as an ice pack. Again, if you want to try it, wrap it in a clean tea towel so it isn’t directly touching your skin. You should be ok doing this, but the extremes of temperature might hasten the end of the bottle’s life, although I guess the silicone ones might be more resistant to this than the more perishable rubbery ones. Cost: nothing, if you already own one. The mini handwarmer-type ones sometimes turn up in hardware shops quite cheap.
And finally freezing…
Don’t worry about sticking stuff in the freezer, by the way. Freezers tend to run more efficiently when they’re nearly full. That’s a good excuse to make some more ice, isn’t it? We’ve been filling our ice cube trays, then emptying the frozen cubes into freezer bags to make more room for the next lot of ice. You get through more than you realise in warm weather, and it’s nice to have some iced water on the bedside table at night (if you keep it in an insulated flask it stays chilled for several hours too). Cost: nothing / a few pence if you’re on a water meter.
My last cheap way to keep cool is the humble water mister. Give yourself a quick spritz with plain water from time to time and help the heat to come off without the need to sweat buckets. Give yourself a misting before lying down under a fan to get the biggest benefit (but of course don’t spray the water through the fan itself or get the electrics wet). Cost: £1 upwards from pound shops, hairdressing supply shops, cheap garden stores etc.
Do you have a better way for keeping cool at night during the rarity that is a UK heatwave? Please share it!