Long, hot summer: How to beat the sweaty Betty blues
So, how’s your glass box extension now? Not so hot on keeping us cool on these humid days
We aren’t made for this heat in Ireland, it doesn’t suit our temperament
Ah lads, we’re not made for this. It’s the miserable, drizzly weather that makes those bright green fields the tourists love. Hot, humid days and sweaty toss-and-turn nights are not our bag.
It doesn’t suit our post-Famine temperament, no matter how much we pretend. We are genetically disposed towards mild, moist and variable outlooks. Why else would we have spent the past 20 years aspiring towards large glass-box extensions on our three-bed semis – to counter all those guaranteed grey days, when we want to make the most of whatever little bit of light might be around.
So, how’s your glass box extension now, missus? Pretty dang sweaty is how. And all those great strides made towards A-rated houses mean they’re great for the heat retention, but not so hot on keeping us cool. Notice in the newly built schemes all the upstairs windows flung open all night in a bid to cool down the well-insulated interior.
Tips from abroad
- We can always take the advice of our expat compatriots who survive in far hotter climes, and to whom our current temperatures seem, quite frankly, laughable. Some advice they share includes:
- Open windows and get some fans for air movement through a house. Open attic doors to allow the hot air to rise further.
- Leave bedroom curtains closed and windows open during the day – keeping the room dark all day reduces the heat absorbed. Come sundown, open curtains again to let in some cooler evening air.
- A cold shower before bed.
- After the cool of early morning, close windows and doors, and close curtains, to keep cool air inside.
- DIY air conditioner: freeze a large bowl or roasting pan of water and place it in front of or behind a fan to blow cool air.
- Drink water frequently through the day.
- Aside from sunscreen, keep sun off your skin. Wear a hat.
- A slightly longer, shaded path is much better than a short, sunny one, unless it leads to a drink – but ideally not alcohol, which dehydrates.
- Use parasols and tents on the beach.
- Keep a jug of tapwater in the fridge.
- Go for a swim: lakes, beaches and rivers. Visit a forest for shade from the sun.
- Use a wet towel to cool yourself.
- Freeze 1.5-litre bottles of water before going out, and drink as it melts.
On the commute
Social media is alive with complaints about sweaty, airless commutes on public transport, pungent with the smell of crammed, hot bodies. There have been reports of malfunctioning air-conditioners on a number of Irish Rail trains, making for deeply unpleasant journeys. So much for their ads about travelling in comfort. Irish Rail has posted helpful tips for travelling in hot weather, advising water, sunscreen, comfy clothes, and asking for a seat or help if you feel unwell.
After extensive research (on Google) there are remarkably few good suggestions for how to cope on smelly public transport. Moving to another seat is generally not an option in our overcrowded system. Most suggestions instead are for how you can keep yourself smelling sweet, or chemical cleaning tips for transport services . All we can offer is: carry a portable battery fan, or hell, even an old-fashioned manual one.
Hot sweaty nights
And as for those hot, sweaty nights (not the ones we might dream about, but the airless ones spent tossing and turning), Laura Kennedy has tips for the challenge of sleeping in the heat, which include a humidifier and a fan to soothe you in the heat. Silk is a great fabric for temperature regulation: try a pillowcase (keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, is more breathable than cotton, and reduces sweating of both skin and scalp), or loose-fitting pyjamas (cotton is also good).
Blackout curtains keep the bedroom from overheating so it’s cooler when you go to bed; or at least keep non-blackout blinds or curtains closed during the day.
Pillow sprays are placebos, she reckons, though they can be soothing, but a facial mist cools and refreshes skin.
More radical heat hacks
- Stick sheets (in a plastic bag first) in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before bed.
- Fill a hot water bottle with cold water and put it in the freezer for a bed-friendly ice pack.
- Point fans out the windows so they push hot air out.
- Loose PJs or nightclothes; sleeping naked may keep you cool, but some say sweat stays on the body instead of being absorbed by fabric.
- Positioning a fan across from a window, so it combines with wind from outside to create a cooling cross-breeze.
- To chill quickly, apply ice packs or cold compresses to pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and behind the knees.
- Drink a glass of water before bed, to hydrate in advance of sweating.
- Set up your bed close to the ground, or sleep downstairs (heat rises).
- Cool down a whole room by hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window (the breeze blowing in cools the room).
- Cool your body by dunking feet in cold water before bed, and keep a basin of water near the bed to dip feet into during the night.