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8 Desi Cooling Techniques That Could Help European Homes Deal With the Heat Wave

Indian hacks to beat the heatwave

As Europe battles a massive heat wave, we reflect on age-old hacks and tricks that Indians have employed for years to stay cool.

Europe has been witnessing an extremely hot summer, with temperatures crossing 40 degrees Celcius for the first time. The UK witnessed massive fires on Tuesday, and the London fire service faced one of its busiest days since the Second World War, according to The Guardian.

Europeans, especially Londoners, have been looking for ways to beat the heat.

Meanwhile, Indians are well versed with the heat — parts of Delhi witnessed temperatures as high as 49 degrees Celcius in May — and have devised several methods to keep themselves cool during the summers. From cool drinks to changes to their house, we have a jugaad for everything when it comes to the heat.

Here are eight cooling techniques used by Indians that Europeans can adopt:

1. Clay bottles and matka containers

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During summers, sale of matkas (earthen pots) and bottles shoots up. It’s essential to keep hydrated, but having very cold water is not advised. The matka keeps the water cool and doesn’t cause a problem to your throat. In the past few years, clay bottles are also commonly used as they also keep water cool.

2. Vetiver and jute screens

Vetiver is a grass species native to India. It is used to make medicines, skincare, soaps etc. Due to its cooling properties, it is also used to make screens/curtains. It keeps the room cool. Curtains made of natural fabrics like jute block the sun and ensure that the room is ventilated.

3. Coolers like kokum, chaas, jaljira, lemon water

Every part of India has its own special drink come summer. Drinks that you can easily make in Europe would include the humble nimbu paani (lemonade) and chaas (buttermilk). Remember to add jeera to your chaas to multiply its benefits. Another great drink for summer is kokum sharbat, which helps reduce heat and acidity.

4. Rice pillows

A way to cool your bed is by using a rice pillow or rice husk pillow. All you need to do is put some uncooked rice inside a pillow cover, and put it in the fridge for a few hours before sleeping. Rice husk pillows are also eco-friendly, and help in posture too.

5. Ice water and fan

This is one of the best jugaads to keep you cool as you sleep. Place a bowl of ice in front of a table fan. The room will become cool as the air passes over the ice. Alternatively, you can keep a bucket of water in the room with the ceiling fan on.

6. White lime (chuna) wash on terrace and terracotta tiles

terracota tiles used for roof
A house in India with terracotta tiles used for the roofs

People staying on the top floor of a building bear the brunt of the heat, as the roof heats up the house. Painting the roof with a white lime wash can reflect the sunlight and reduce the temperature. Terracotta tiles for roofing and flooring help maintain the temperature in a room.

7. Jaali panels for blocking sunlight whole allowing ventilation

Jaali panels
Jaali panels in a house in India

Architects have used jaalis in India for decades to keep rooms cool. It is a surface/partition with perforations. They block direct entry of sunlight and keep the room cool while allowing ventilation.

8. Sleeping on chatai/mats/paais

Come summer and several houses ditch the mattress and opt for the chatais (mats). Made of natural threads like korai, these mats don’t harm the skin. While the mattress adds to the heat in the body, these paais don’t.


‘Heatwave led to London firefighters’ busiest day since second world war’ by Alexandra Topping for The Guardian, Published on 20 July 2022

Feature Image Credit: Wandering Mist

Edited by Divya Sethu