How to keep cool in the heatwave

With temperatures in the UK soaring and the sustained heat assault showing no signs of abating, many of us are finding the conditions draining. Trying to keep comfortable can be difficult, but with the right technology, you can boost comfort and beat the heat. Below, we look at some of the best options to keep cool.

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Keep cool – Maximise your fan usage

Buying one of our best fans is a good starting point. Fans work efficiently to keep you cool in two ways. First, they aid sweat evaporation, which can help cool down your body. Second, they help to circulate air. On a still night (or day), mixing stuffy air inside with the cooler air from outside is essential.

Fans have two main downsides, however. They can’t cool a room and they become less effective at cooling you as humidity rises. There are some tips and tricks to making them better, though.

1. Use a bowl of ice

Fans can’t cool the air, but you can produce colder air flow by placing a dish of ice in front of a fan. This will only last as long as the ice lasts, but the effect will be an airstream that’s colder than the ambient air temperature. One of our best fridge freezers can help you produce or store the ice you need.

Bowl of ice

2. Use a dehumidifier

As humidity increases, fans become less useful, as they can no longer aid sweat evaporation to keep you cool. This is the reason a humid room feels so uncomfortable. A dehumidifier can help, reducing the relative humidity of a room to make it easier for evaporation to occur. In the UK, humidity is usually measured at somewhere between 40% and 60%.

You can use an air quality monitor such as the excellent Foobot to keep tabs on humidity.

3. Point your fan outwards

At night, if the outside air temperature is cooler than the inside air, you should point your fan facing outward. This will take the hot air from inside and push it out, replenishing your room with cooler air. This trick works best in rooms with multiple windows to improve airflow.

Keep cool – Use an evaporative cooler or air-conditioning unit

While fans don’t bring down the actual air temperature, there are other devices that are up to the job, of which evaporative coolers are the cheapest and quietest devices. Using a water reservoir, they cool the air flow via evaporation. Typically, these will struggle to reduce the temperature of a room, but will blow colder air at you than a fan can manage.

Some coolers can take ice to further lower the temperature of their output. The excellent Evapolar Personal Air Cooler is an effective device for use at night-time, or for cooling your desk area by creating a micro-climate around you.

Evaporative air coolers become less effective as humidity increases (evaporation reduces as a result). Using them with a dehumidifier can improve effectiveness.

If you want to cool down a room, you’ll need an air-conditioning unit. These take the warm air from your room, push the heat outside and circulate cold air back into your home. As a side effect, air conditioners also act as dehumidifiers, taking moisture out of the air thereby creating a more comfortable environment.

Portable air-conditioning units need to be vented outside, so they’ll have to be placed by a window through which you can run the ducting. There are two other downsides: they’re comparatively expensive and they’re also very loud, which can make them difficult to sleep through.

Keep cool – Avoid allergies flaring up

Allergies caused as a result of pollen and other external irritants can also flare up in summer, making it hard to sleep for some. An air purifier can help, filtering out the irritants and making it more pleasant inside.

Our roundup of the best air purifiers features suitable models, including the excellent Dyson Pure Cool Tower, which performs as an air purifier and fan in one.

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