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Keeping cool

It may not always feel like it, but our summers really are getting hotter. Heatwaves are happening more frequently. Global temperatures are soaring, breaking seasonal records worldwide.

For some of us this is joy unbounded, basking in a semi-tropical Tisbury, lounging or playing in the garden, walking the downs, or maybe splashing about in our wonderful open-air community swimming pool. For others it’s purgatory – languishing in sweaty stupor, trying to keep cool indoors. For the very young, the over 80s and those with certain medical conditions, being too hot can be downright dangerous, with a risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke and delirium.

So, how can we keep ourselves cool enough for comfort and wellbeing? Having a well-insulated home certainly helps, keeping the heat out in summer as well as the cold out in winter. Thick stone walls are also a great protection, especially in June and July before they’ve had time to warm right through. North-facing rooms tend to be cooler; but loft-rooms or attics hotter.

Good ventilation is crucial. Circulating air, a blessing. Opening windows may be counterproductive, letting warmer air in. An oscillating electric fan is often the answer, typically running at a mere 40-60 watts. The next step is an air-conditioning unit. Many of us appreciate the benefits of AC in our car – but is it worth having one or two in our home?

AC units come as portable standing units, fixed wall-mounted or mega external refrigerating fans and they all use up much more electricity, typically around 3kW per hour. The portable units are the most popular, costing around £300, and work pretty well, although they need frequent emptying of the condensation tank or continuous drainage to the outside through a window hosepipe. They can also be quite noisy. An important plus-point is that in winter they can double up as dehumidifiers, helping to combat mould.

Currently less than 5 percent of UK homes have air-conditioners, although, amazingly, in the US it’s over 90 percent. Sadly, they are not too good for the planet, accounting for about one-tenth of the total amount of electricity consumed globally – a surprisingly high proportion, likely to increase dramatically as the world becomes ever warmer.

Invasion of the jellyfish

Another consequence of record-breaking global temperatures is the effect on ecosystems and the balance of nature. Warmer waters around UK coasts are encouraging more algae, plankton and the jellyfish feeding off them. These in turn are predated upon by leatherback turtles, many more of which are being sighted in our seas. The latest ‘invaders’ are moon jellyfish assisted by currents from the Azores and appearing in vast smacks of many thousands from Cornwall to Kent and beyond. Dorset fisherfolk refer to the hordes as ‘fluthers’ – a regular feature of hot summers, although in much greater numbers than usual. They are undeniably beautiful but inflict a vicious sting, painful but usually not dangerous. Just swim well clear!

And finally – our latest share offer is coming soon

Another quick reminder that our latest share offer, to help us provide solar energy for a further batch of local schools whilst giving investors an attractive rate of interest, is nearly ready for launch. Watch this space.

Alan Maryon-Davis

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