Climate science suggests we will suffer more extreme heatwaves in future, so how will our daily lives need to change to cope?

The summer of 2018 was the UK's joint hottest on record. If scientific predictions prove accurate high temperatures will become the norm with more extreme heatwaves expected in future. But how will our daily lives have to change to cope with the additional heat?

Paint it white

The heatwave provided evidence that our housing stock is simply not equipped to deal with hot weather. This was particularly felt in cities where urban heat keeps temperatures higher than rural areas.

It is likely that in future years, householders will start to think about the practical steps they can take to keep their homes cooler. We might see a growing trend towards white painted roofs and walls, climbing plants and trees could become increasingly prevalent to provide shade. BBQs might further grow in popularity not just for the taste but in order to keep cooking heat out of the home.

Planners will have to build urban cooling into their thinking. Already there are radical plans in Paris to turn 800 concrete school yards into 'islands of cool' through the creation of new green space including vertical gardens and vegetable planners.

Changing diets

Yields of key crops have fallen significantly resulting in an anticipated 5% increase in food prices. Staple food types have been particularly hard hit, with the yields of wheat likely to be down by a quarter and potatoes, onions and carrots set to face a 30% reduction. In the height of the heatwave there were shortages of lettuce and broccoli which were unable to grow in the hot weather.

Cost-conscious consumers will realise that it will become increasingly important to value the food they buy and greater efforts will be needed to cut the £13bn worth of food that could have been eaten by households but was binned. More flexible diets will also be required with households shifting away from food that will become more expensive in hot weather to other crops that will flourish.

Water - too little

The South East of England only averted facing water restrictions this summer thanks to an unusually wet March and April. The water regulator Ofwat recognises the growing pressures on supply and will be setting increasingly restrictive water use targets for households - failure to hit these targets will result in fines for water companies.

A concerted effort will be required to encourage households to change their water habits. A recent survey by Hubbub discovered that 76% of households are not concerned about the amount of water they use and only a third felt they could use less water if needed.

Water - too much

Greater heat will result in more extreme weather including periods of intense rainfall leading to flash floods. Repairing a house after a flood can cost anything upward of £10,000 so increasingly households in vulnerable areas might start thinking about creating household flood plans.

Simple steps might be to replace external concrete areas with green space or permeable surfaces. Raising white goods off the floor will reduce the cost of replacement, placing electrical sockets higher up walls will help safeguard electrical supplies. Households could even start considering different types of floor covering to reduce damage and might start buying flood resistant doors.

Flexible working

For those living in London this summer the high temperatures on the Tube were starkly apparent. Many offices were stiflingly hot, with hastily bought fans simply moving hot air around. Employers will have to start recognising that in hot weather productivity drops, tempers shorten, and general welfare diminishes. Adopting more flexible working patterns to cope with heat will become increasingly prevalent, including allowing more working from home and shifting core work hours.

These are all fairly simple steps but require people to be aware of the impact of our changing climate and to begin planning for hotter summers. Worryingly this thinking is not part of our public conversation and, until it is, we are going to continue to stumble into an uncomfortable future.