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Why do Brits struggle with hot weather so much?

Summer is certainly here, and with temperatures around 30 degrees, many of us will struggle to cope - yet other countries don’t seem to have the same issues.

Greg Devine


Sun at low level blurry

Summer is certainly here, and with temperatures around 30 degrees, many of us will struggle to cope - yet other countries don’t seem to have the same issues.

Anything above 25 degrees in the UK and I really feel it. I become a sweaty mess, as I try to find somewhere in the house that’s cool enough for me to relax, even for 5 minutes. When I come across the same temperature abroad, I don’t seem to struggle. I think it’s down to two main factors: Infrastructure and humidity.

As I write this, the temperature is 31 degrees. It’s blisteringly hot, to the point where winding the car window down made no difference to my body temperature on my way to work. At 30% humidity, your body can start to feel sticky - a sensation I particularly despise. I always find it makes my patience wear thin and I’m constantly tired, to the point where moving becomes a chore.

It’s worth pointing out that I’m relatively healthy and relatively young. I’m not overweight, luckily, which I believe would only make my struggle with the heat more intense. The fact that I, as an average 20 year old, deal with the heat so poorly makes me really feel for those people with weight issues.

Humidity isn’t the only factor. Infrastructure, or maybe the lack of it, can make a real difference to how we deal with the heat. When Brits go abroad, the hotels and shops we go in are all air-conditioned to an appropriate temperature. So, when we go back outside, we’re already quite cool. Since we’re not dealing with extreme heat inside, few people find themselves becoming sluggish.

Aircon unit being turned on by remote

Aircon unit being turned on by remote

Air-conditioning is a feature in people’s homes in hotter countries, but this is not common in the UK. Our houses are built to allow as little heat as possible to escape. This is great during the winter, as it makes our homes more energy efficient. It makes for a warm house and cheaper bills (though they’re still far too expensive).

It begs the question: if there’s so much emphasis on preparing our houses for winter, why not summer, too? To be fair, we probably only see a week or two of soaring temperatures each year before they return to a more palatable level. Most of us can’t justify the cost of air-conditioning for the sake of a couple of weeks of very hot weather. Consequently, we suffer disturbed sleep and feel less than our best for work when temperatures escalate; but, again, this usually only lasts a couple of weeks.

A lack of preparation could also be to blame. How many times have we seen the red and white aftermath of somebody who didn’t pack sunscreen when they went out for the day? If I’d have prepared for the weather, I’d have filled a big bottle with cold water for the journey to and from work. I’d have probably got my car’s air-con fixed, too, but we all know how expensive repairs can be. I should probably listen to my own advice, as I’m used to getting burnt by the sun. ‘T-Shirt tans’ aren’t appealing, but at least they show everyone what a true Brit you are.

Tips on keeping cool include placing a bowl of cold water in front of a fan - this does actually work, give it a try. Keeping the blinds/curtains shut over windows that face the sun is another way to keep a room cool, more so if you open the windows, too. The BBC even recommends cooling a pair of socks in the fridge to wear in bed - sounds a good idea, in all fairness.

How do you deal with the heat? Have you invested in an air-conditioning system or, like most people in the UK, do you not deem the expense justifiable for a couple of weeks? Maybe you also have some tips on coping with rising temperatures. I’ll stick to complaining about how hot it is in the hope the weather hears me and turns colder.

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