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Thursday, 26 July 2018

Keeping cool

As the temperatures in London seem destined to rise yet again tomorrow, and after one of the worst night's sleep Sue and I can remember since we were married in 1982, the order of the day is to try to keep as cool as possible.

We have three tower fans (one on each floor of our house) and two portable air-con units, and they are all working like billy-oh trying to keep the air cooled and moving. Every window that we can open is open, and even the gentlest of breezes is very welcome. Despite all of this, our house seems to be warmer on the inside than it is outside.

The problem seems to be a result of the building regulations, that insisted that our roof and external walls should have foam insulation. This was introduced when global cooling was predicted ... but global warming doesn't seem to have been recognised as requiring the insulation to be reduced. As a result, our house has been getting hotter and hotter as it retains the build-up of heat inside, and unless there is a rapid and prolonged change in the weather, this will continue for the foreseeable future.

As Baldric would say, 'I have a cunning plan'. Sue and I are keeping hydrated (I don't usually drink water, but at present I am glugging it down by the litre!) and only using rooms where there is little or no direct sunlight. Luckily, we are both retired, so that we can sleep during the day (cat permitting) if we sleep badly at night. I'm having at least one warm shower every day (this is better than cold shower which will actually cause your body to warm up) and when absolutely necessary, I go for a drive ... with the air-con unit going full blast to cool me down.

The forecast is for thunderstorms at some point on Friday with cooler weather over the weekend ... but the temperatures are predicted to rise again after next weekend.

26 comments:

  1. Having airco working AND the windows open ... isn't that fighting an uphill battle? I don't know the characteristics of your house, of course, but that struck me as weird :-)

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    1. Anyway, I'm biting the bullet ... sitting outside in the shade is doable. But then, I'm living in the Flemish countryside where it's most likely somewhat cooler than in major city such as London. Although the forecast for today is a whopping 36 degrees Celsius. We might break the heatrecord in Belgium since they started measurements in the 19th century ...

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    2. Phil Dutre,

      I should have made it clear that at night - for security and insurance purposes - the windows are closed and the air-con units used. During the day the windows are open and the fans circulate the air as best they can.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    3. Phil Dutre,

      Unfortunately the only shade in our garden is at the end away from the house, and because our garden has a 1-in-10 slope, sitting there is almost impossible.

      Our house is orientated north-east (front) to south-west (back) and on top of one of the highest hills around London. One wall of the house is in the sun at most times of the day, hence the difficult in keeping it cool.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Unfortunately Bob that's your problem. Windows open at night to allow the house to cool down. Closed during the day to let the aircon do its job.

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    1. Ashley,

      Our insurance is invalid if the window are open at night even though we are inside and have a burglar alarm. As long as the house is occupied during the day, we can have the windows open. I've double checked the policy, but that is what it states.

      Normally I wouldn't worry, but there have been a number of nighttime burglaries of occupied houses in this area since the heatwave began, at least one of which involved the use of a weapon.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Bob, I was sorry to read about Sue's fall in your previous post, was it on a tiled floor? Hope shes recovering from the effects. My wife Sharon slipped on the marble staircase in our new house on our first morning here, required 8 staples in a head wound plus a black eye. Medical services here was excellent and she has made a full recovery. Flip flops are now banned on the stairs!

    Re the heatwave I think it's across much of Europe, even in Spain locals are commenting upon the temperatures, 35 degrees most days. The new air conditioning works well with the doors and windows closed, worth every Euro!

    All the best Bob and best wishes to Sue.

    Lee.

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    1. 'Lee,

      Got it in one! It was tile floor in a corridor between the restaurant, the kitchen, and the toilets. The chef had just carried through a tray of wet fish, and it was water that dripped off it that caused Sue to slip.

      She had some bruises and joint swelling, but nothing that required the sort of treatment your wife needed. I trust that she is now fully recovered.

      Our cheap air-con units are just not up to the job. Luckily we have some big rotary fans that are, and they are being used wherever they are needed,

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. I feel your pain Bob. We've had temperatures rising into the 30's with a humidex approaching 40 abd this old house was not built for it but a few years a go we put in a marvellous heat pump which cools in summer and heats in winter in addition, Kathy laid down the law two years ago and we now have a window a/c unit upstairs in the bedroom. Not sleeping in summer is a thing of the past!

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    1. Ross Mac,

      Happy birthday!

      I've just woken up from a short doze, and have a raging thirst and blinding headache. The former will be dealt with by a pint or so of water, but the later will probably require at least one Aspirin. The latter will also help to thin my blood, as my family has a history of having thicker blood than normal.

      Installing a proper air-con unit (or several) is something we need to think about, especially if this weather is going to become the norm.

      All the best,l

      Bob

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  5. We've been keeping the windows shut during the day (with the blinds drawn on the south facing ones) to keep the heat out and opening them in the evening to let in cool air. When my wife opened our bedroom windows yesterday evening she reported back 30 minutes later to say that the temperature had risen by 1 degree (to 29 Celsius): empirical confirmation that you should only open windows well into the night (insurers willing, which they mostly wont be).

    I've spent most of the afternoon in my workshop at the bottom of the garden where it is beautifully cool. When I built it I put 100mm of high quality insulation in the walls and roof and the only windows face NNE so minimal sun penetration. I'm seriously considering putting an armchair and an old PC down there amidst the machinery. From the temperature point of view it is much more comfortable than the house all year round and the heating bill is low!

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    1. Mike Hall,

      We've tried keeping the windows closed during the day and keeping the curtains shut, but the during he day the temperature was higher inside the house than it was outside. The problem with keeping the windows open at night is that it is specifically contrary to our insurance cover.

      If our garden was flat (it has a 1-in-10 slope), I would love to have a large workshop/summerhouse at the end of the garden, which is in shade all day. It might have even been somewhere we could sleep during the really hot weather,

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. We're on a hill and the ground slopes downwards both across and down our garden and, inspired by your comment, I have just calculated that the drop diagonally across my workshop is about 1 in 10. Basically, with such a slope it should be possible to do what you'd like but you need to move a lot of earth, or pay someone to do it for you. I recommend the latter to anyone who can afford it as it's bloody hard work, though the Irish labourer who dug out and laid the concrete base for my workshop made it look easy. I later regretted that I'd not got him to do more, like building the necessary retaining walls.

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    3. Mike Hall,

      My next door neighbour is a builder, and I'm sure that he would do the work for a reasonable price.

      It's certainly something for us to think about.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. Do you have forced air heat? If you do for the price of one of your cruises you could have central air put in - it uses the same duct work. When I was first marries and moved into my first house, it had an attic that got terribly hot. On hot days we would go up there and swelter for about 5 minutes and then run downstairs where the normally too hot temperature felt just great!

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    1. Dick Bryant,

      Funnily enough, the first house my wife and I owned had a communal heating and hot water system. During winter hot air was circulated through the ducts and in summer it was replaced by calling on air.

      Our current house is just over eighty-years-old, and was not designed for anything so advanced.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. Bob,

    While your sweltering there in London- we're freezing in SW Sydney. -2Deg C overnight and it has been colder. Through the day Temperatures do rise -though the house remains very cold. In Summer we can go up to 43Deg C with averages around 36Deg C...I prefer Summer to Winter. I do not believe in 'Global Warming' or 'Climate Change'. As for being the fault of Human Activities- our Globe is so huge as is our Atmosphere- I do not think the Political Parties such as the 'Greens' have any sense at all..if these lunatics had their way we would be going back to digging the ground with a stick and starving to death. It is ALL Bull- don't believe a word they say. Cheers. KEV.

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    1. Kev Robertson,

      I wish that we could 'borrow' some of your colder weather for an hour or two. It might just help us get our house cool enough to live in comfortably!

      In my time I've seen 'global cooling' and 'global warming' predictions made by scientists. I don't understand the science behind them, but I do sometimes worry that a particular agenda is being 'pushed' by a particular interest group.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. I'm sorry, it's not my habit to start non-related discussions on wargaming blogs, but I simply have to react.

      Anyone with a scientific bone on their body who has studied or read up on some of the climate change reports undeniably has to come to the conclusion that global warming is happening. There's no credible scientist who is going to deny this.

      Perhaps you might argue about how much is caused by human factors or Co2 emissions, but you cannot ignore the climate change as such.
      Reality is that many countries and governments are preparing for the changing climate. This goes from adapting sewer systems and canals to take care of already increased flooding risks due to increased precipitation in NW-Europe, to factoring in changing ecosystems and effect on agriculture due to the migration of plants and animals. This is already taking place - it's not a matter whether you "believe" it or not.

      @Bob, if you think this post is inappropriate, please delete, but I could not let this pass. I will also not comment on this issue again ;-)

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    3. Phil Dutre,

      No need for the caveat. I'm always willing to read other people's informed opinion.

      Whereas I can fully accept that the data indicates that climate change is taking place, my point was that over my lifetime cooling has become warming. Newer data seems to indicate that the latter is the case, and if so, the changes you outline will be very necessary.

      I do have concerns about the politicisation of climate change, where the so-called 'leader of the Free World' seems to be a climate change denier and some 'green' campaigners see the future as some sort of idealistic society based upon their middle-class outlook.

      Sorry for the rant at the end, but my opinion of 'greens' is based on the outlook of some people I have met.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. Well said, Phil!

      To Bob,
      Yeah, installing central AC can be costly, especially if you don't already have the duct-work in place for central heating (and even then it's not cheap). My old house had what they call a "whole house fan" in the attic. The idea was to open windows/doors and run the fan when it's cooler outside in the evening to draw in cooler air. I imagine that wouldn't be cheap to install either. A cool space like an undercroft, basement or semi-basement can be a good thing, too (not many basements in California though).

      I guess we all deal with the weather we are dealt as best we can. I find the heat is not great for painting, so I don't do as much painting in the Summer. Instead I do more prep work, gaming, reading.

      To everyone, stay cool (or warm, as the case may be)!

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    5. Fitz-Badger,

      Most UK domestic central heating systems rely upon hot water pipes connecting a boiler (gas, wood, coal, or oil) to radiators. Only large commercial buildings seem to have hot air systems that could be used to feed cold air throughout the building.

      The whole house fan system sounds interesting, but as our house has no attic, it would be impractical. In the past we've been able to rely on natural ventilation using the temperature differentiation between the back and front of the house, one usually being in shade when the other is in the sun.

      The weather forecast for later today is for us to have thunderstorms and heavy rain. The horizon to the west is lined with black clouds, and I can hear the rumbling of thunder ... but there's no guarantee it will reach us.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. We're also having a heatwave where I live (northwestern US), but it's still cooler than where I used to live (edge of the southern California desert). Of course, houses in places like the latter generally have central AC, and I did make sure the house I got here had it as well. It can cost quite a bit to run it, but in my old house I did what I could to make things more efficient. In any case, I consider it a necessity at times. I also have a tendency to get heat-induced migraines.

    A Hobbit hole or other underground or partially underground house or workshop or other living space would be more insulated and stay cooler in hot weather. But those kinds of spaces seem to be in short supply.

    I'll just do my best to stay cool and wait hopefully for Fall to come soon.

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    1. Fitz-Badger,

      I did look at the cost of buying and fitting air-con units for the whole house, but it appears that I would probably need planning permission from the local council to install it ... and they are unlikely to do so.

      A Hobbit hole sounds like an excellent idea. My next door neighbour has an undercroft or semi-basement, and they seem to be spending quite a lot of time in there or their swimming pool.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. I am envious as it is Winter here in OZ and most days here in Victoria are are around 15C.

    I love the kind of heat you are having and I'm hanging out for it to be Summer again when i'll be swimming 'laps' of the local rivers.

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    1. James James,

      In the current weather in the UK you don't need to go near a swimming pool or the sea to get wet: most people spend their time bathed in sweat due to the humidity and the fact that the buildings and pavements in London store and reflect the heat back at them. I understand that the non-air-conditioned parts of the Underground system are experiencing temperatures of over forty degrees at times.

      All the best,

      Bob

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