Houseplants and ‘bowls of water’ can keep homes ‘cool’ during heatwave – here’s how

BBC Weather: Brits get brief respite before heatwave returns

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Homeowners may be finding their homes uncomfortably hot at the moment as the UK’s heatwave continues. The hot weather looks set to last for the rest of the week and beyond, which could make spending time at home unbearable. However, as climate change experts warn, residents in the UK may need to get used to progressively higher summer temperatures.

So how can Britons live comfortably in homes that are designed to prioritise retaining warmth in winter over keeping cool in summer?

Dr Anastasia Mylona, from the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), has some practical advice for homeowners looking to keep their homes cool during a heatwave.

She said: “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.”

Houseplants and water

According to the expert, “indoor plants” and “bowls of water” can also help.

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Having them in the house leads to evaporation which helps cool the air.


All windows and doors that don’t have the sun on them should be kept open when possible.

Ensure windows are kept open on both sides of the building to allow ventilation to flow through the building.

Opening any windows at the top of the house and on the ground floor will create a “chimney stack effect”.

The hot air that rises is drawn upwards through the house and is released at the top.

Britons with bedrooms at the top of the house should ensure windows are opened a couple of hours before going to bed.

Stop the sun coming in

External blinds are the “best” way to do this.

However, most windows in UK homes open outwards.

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Alternatively, homeowners can install an awning blind over the top of the window which will provide shade.

Internal blinds and curtains can also help to stop the sun coming in.

But the sun’s heat will be absorbed by the fabric which means it’s only a matter of time before it is released into the rest of the home.


Fans are the best way to move air around the home and speed up evaporation.

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Turn off unnecessary electrical appliances

Electrical appliances which are kept switched on can emanate heat.

Even in small amounts, the heat will contribute to the overall temperature of the room.


In the long term, try to use trees or plants to provide shade around the building during summer and make sure homes are well insulated.

Insulation will help to keep heat out during the summer while keeping in warmth during the winter.

Homes with good ventilation and insulation will be more comfortable all year round.

Dr Mylona added: “We’re expecting summer temperatures in the UK to rise quite quickly over the next decades.

“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.”

CIBSE uses Met Office observations and climate projections to provide weather data for people designing the buildings of the future.

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