• Kate

How to Keep Your Cool: Reduce summer overheating by getting rid of heat sources

It goes without saying that the sun isn't the only thing that makes homes get hotter.



I'll just apologise again for the quality of the drawings.... but the one above is supposed to be showing a range of ways homes warm up- helpfully in winter, less helpfully in summer. These include:


  • Radiators or storage heaters being left on or stuck on

  • Badly insulated pipe runs and hot water tanks

  • Heat from cooking

  • Heat from other power use

  • Heat from people


Heat from people

We'll deal with the other ones in order, as there are things that can be done about them. But, unavoidably each person in a house will, roughly, be giving off about 100W of heat all the time, just because we're all burning food to stay alive all the time- and our bodies do literally do the same chemical reaction that a fire does to keep us going.


That's worth knowing, because it's another reason why overcrowded housing is unhealthy. Quite apart from all the air quality, damp, noise, disease transmission and general needing-space-for-wellbeing issues of overcrowding, too many people too close together gets too hot!


Radiators and other heaters being stuck on

If you have the controls, make sure all your radiators are turned to "frost protect" in the summer- and preferably make sure the heating control on your boiler is switched off.

If you have electric heaters (including storage heaters), make sure they're each switched off.


If controllers aren't working, either get them fixed (if you are a homeowner) or ask your landlord or maintenance provider to fix them. Make sure your record each time you ask for them to be fixed: If heaters are stuck on when you want them off not only are they making you too hot, you're likely to be paying for the power being used to cook you!


If you're on a whole-building or district heating system and it's not switched off in summer, again, contact your landlord or provider.


If you're not able to get a satisfactory response from a housing provider, contacting Shelter or Citizens' Advice can be a helpful next step.


Badly insulated pipe runs and hot water tanks

This includes hot water pipes and pipes to radiators- especially for whole building heating systems where the boiler may be left on in the summer.


If you have a combi boiler, this is unlikely to be a problem (provided you've switched the heating off) as water is only heated as you need it. Equally, if you have direct electric heating and hot water, you're unlikely to have long pipe runs.


If you have a hot water tank, make sure that it's well insulated. If you put your hand on the tank and it feels any more than very slightly warm, it needs more insulation: You're paying for energy that's leaking out of the tank and overheating your house. Free options for insulation include using cotton or other temperature-safe fabrics- but also make sure your tank isn't overheating above 60-65 degrees C as this wastes energy and is a hazard for burns or even causing a fire.


Insulating pipe runs is just as important- any pipes that feel hot need insulating, and not just the straight bits- it's really important to insulate right around all the corners, fixings and junctions too to prevent heat loss.


If you think about it, a radiator is just a weirdly shaped hot water pipe- and the last thing you want in your home is a giant radiator running all over the walls heating the place up.


Heat from cooking

Cooking needs to be done: We all need to eat. But an oven or hob or even a microwave can give off as much heat as a radiator. In fact, we don't even have a radiator in our kitchen/dining room, because even in winter, the cooker heats the room.


During a heatwave, modify cooking schedules if possible so that cooking is done in the evening when windows can be left open.

Avoid making things like stews that take a long time to cook during the day, and consider having cold meals when you can, even if some of those will need cooking ahead of time: Things like using leftover potatoes from an evening meal for cold lunchtime potato salad will avoid worsening overheating.

Equally, leaving bread dough to rise during the day then cooking it late in the evening can sort out the next day's meals without increasing daytime heating.


Heat from other power use

Almost all energy use in the home will end up as heat. This blog isn't about not using power: It's about not using pointless power that contributes to overheating. So anything that's on standby and doesn't need to be, switch it off. If you can use a hairdryer or straighteners in the evening near an open window or let your hair dry naturally, do that. If nobody is watching the TV, switch it off. Turn the temperature on the washing machine to 30 degrees if possible; use a cool cycle on the dishwasher when it's appropriate. Don't leave a full bath of hot water in the bathroom...


If you have a smart meter or accessible electricity and gas meters, you can use these to help you see how much heat you're putting into your home from different devices and appliances- which can then help you work out how to reduce heat input into your home.


There will be an Activity of the Day linked to this post- check it out to for more practical tips on heating reduction.

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