Keeping your bedroom cool in hot weather
A new home offers many benefits and one of its biggest advantages over an older property is the level of insulation it provides. This is particularly useful in winter, reducing energy costs and retaining warmth. However, during a rare Scottish heatwave it can occasionally lead to hot and stuffy rooms in summer – particularly on upper storeys, since warm air from downstairs will naturally rise. And as we tend to sleep on the top floor of our homes, bedrooms may feel less than relaxing if heat can’t escape.
The challenges of a warm bedroom are exacerbated if it has large or full-height windows, faces south or west, or has a coombed ceiling. In a normal room, heat rises through the ceiling into the space above, but dormer bedrooms are effectively built into the roof so hot air has nowhere to go. Even opening windows won’t necessarily help if it’s still warm outside, while sunshine streaming through glass later in the day may contribute to an oven-like ambience.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your bedroom cool throughout the day. Start by turning every thermostat right down so the heating has no reason to come on – adjusting them once it’s hot won’t achieve anything. Maximise airflow by leaving the bedroom door open, so air can circulate around the house. Unless your bedroom is north-facing, keep the windows covered with blinds and curtains (the thicker the better) to block sunshine. Leaving a window open overnight helps to vent trapped air as outside temperatures drop to single figures, though this may not be practical depending where your bedroom is situated. You could also invest in reflective window films, which repel most of the sun’s solar energy.
It’s getting hot in here
At bedtime, a cool shower or a glass of iced water can help to negate the effects of a warm bedroom. Invest in a quiet rotating tower fan, which can be programmed to turn itself off in the night. Our body temperature drops when we’re asleep, which is why people who go to sleep on top of the covers generally wake up underneath them. You could also place a large bucket of ice in front of the fan, though you’ll need to experiment with positioning to achieve tangible results. Turn the fan off whenever you’re not in the room, as its motor will emit heat. Lightbulbs do the same (particularly traditional incandescent ones), so keep lamps off wherever possible.
Your head, feet and wrists are particularly sensitive to temperature, and cooling them could make things feel far more comfortable. Buy a small cool mat or freezable gel pack, and either pop it on your pillow for an hour before bed or rest your feet on it while winding down. Putting the sheets or pillowcases in the freezer for a few minutes before bed has a similar effect, as will keeping a hot water bottle in the fridge. Invest in a quilt with a tog rating of 4.5 or less, to prevent a heavy duvet trapping warm air around you.
Less clothing equals more heat dispersal, and socks are pretty much a no-no on muggy nights. If you need to wear pyjamas to feel cosy, choose lightweight and baggy cotton ones. Similarly, ensure your sheets are 100 per cent cotton or linen – synthetic materials like viscose and acrylic can’t absorb moisture or transmit heat, while even silk and satin will feel uncomfortable on sweaty nights. Finally, white fabrics absorb less heat than any other colour, which is worth bearing in mind when you’re choosing new bedding…
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