Beat the Heat

Day after day, headlines are reporting record-breaking temperatures. The Dutch meteorological service (KNMI) has issued a ‘code orange’ warning and the weather has upgraded its status from being a conversation starter to the main topic of conversation as we experience this summer's second heatwave.

How can you beat the heat? Here are some tips to stay comfortable and sustainable during the hot summer days.


Stay Hydrated

Drink a lot of water. This is an easy, sustainable and well-known remedy, and it is a message worth repeating – stay hydrated! Bringing your reusable bottle will not only ensure you stay fresh, it will also help reduce (plastic) waste. During the summer, a recommended fluid intake per day for women is 2l and for men 2.5l.1 

Treat yourself to ice cream and fruits, but no matter how good an ice-cold beer may sound right now, it's best to dodge alcohol's dehydrating effect.
In addition to drinking water or other liquids, another way of staying cool is by spraying water on exposed skin or by running your wrists through cold water. This will enhance evaporative cooling and help to regulate internal body temperature.


Shade and Shelter

Cities are warmer than surrounding rural areas. Within urban spaces, the mean temperature is higher than in its surroundings because of the heat absorption of materials used for urban development, and, a lack of green infrastructure (e.g. trees). This densely built-up land and soil sealing cause the urban heat island effect. Here and here are some interesting studies about the urban heat island effect.3, 4 Urban heat will likely continue to affect great segments of the population because of climate change and increasing urbanization.

For now, however, take a breather if you can. Enjoy a relaxing day in the shade of a forest! In the Netherlands, the Utrechtse Heuvelrug and the Veluwezoom National Park may provide you with the refreshment you’re looking for! Once the heatwave has passed, take the opportunity to remove some tiles from your garden and replace them with indigenous plants to create your own green oasis. 


Stay indoors

Staying in the concrete jungle? Stay indoors as much as possible and avoid going outdoors during the hottest hours of the day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
When you go out, remember to put on natural sun lotion without harmful chemical ingredients (such as oxybenzone). Find out more about the ecotoxicology of sunscreen lotions here.


Home Sweet Home

It may be tempting to open to order your first air-conditioning unit, but before you rush to do so, try some of these simple and more eco-friendly ways to cool down your house.

  - Wrap it up: Increase insulation to keep cool air inside. Not only is this helpful during extremely hot days – but it will also cut your energy costs during winter.
  - Vent your troubles away! Hot air rises. Take advantage of convection currents to create ventilation that will naturally cool down your house. Strategically place boxes filled with ice cubes around your house or office. Find out more here.
  - A window of opportunity: Close the curtains and windows in rooms that get direct sunlight to keep the heat out. Hanging a wet sheet in front of the window also helps to lower the temperature of the room. In the evening, open the windows to create circulation and let the hot air out. 5
  - Unplug. Your electrical appliances radiate heat, so try not to use your dishwasher and oven during the day. At night, turn off electrical appliances in your bedroom.