As temperatures in several parts of the Emirates threaten to tip over 50°C, the annual challenge of keeping homes cool during the height of summer is relentless for many.
Ageing air conditioning units not only struggle to maintain recommended indoor temperatures of around 24°C at this time of year but some are failing altogether.
Demand for AC maintenance services in recent years has soared as residents make sure their units are in proper working order.
Eileen Lee-Connor has lived in Dubai for 17 years and in the same 30th-floor apartment in Downtown for four years but struggles to maintain a cool temperature during summer.
“I have been losing my mind with the heat inside my apartment,” said Ms Lee-Connor.
“I have to leave my freezer door open and stand in front of it just to cool down. It is the same every summer.
“It is a luxury apartment in Downtown Dubai, so even though I‘m on the top floor I would not expect it to be this hot.
“I have pets and a child, so it is not that easy to move around, especially as rents have gone through the roof.”
While living on the top floor offers spectacular views, Ms Lee-Connor has been told by building engineers the elevated position leaves the upper floors vulnerable to rising heat from below.
For four months of the year, she is unable to cool her apartment below 24.5°C, she said.
How to stay cool
The answer to maintaining cooler temperatures may not just be in regular servicing of cooling ducts and indoor units.
Designers in the UAE have shared several clever tips on how to keep rooms cool and save on utility bills.
Tima Jaber, an interior designer and chief executive at 360 degree Technical Services in Dubai Design District, said simple design considerations can help keep a building cool during the summer.
“I deal with this issue of how to cool homes and office spaces almost every day,” she said.
“A lot of people try to keep their air conditioning at 19°C or 20°C, but that is not in line with an ideal body temperature.
“A more realistic temperature to keep a home consistently cool is somewhere between 20°C and 24°C.
“Closing all bathroom doors can help maintain that, as it limits the amount of cool air escaping through air vents.
“Open doors also allow heat back into a room, so the AC has to work harder to maintain a cool temperature.”
Strategically-placed sunshades, outdoor curtains or tall plants near windows and entrances can all help cool an apartment, experts said.
Investing in heat-reflective window film and thermal-lined curtains or blinds can also reduce the temperature inside and save money on AC bills long-term, while lighter curtain shades can be effective in bouncing sunlight away from the interior.
“A lot of modern buildings focus on cost rather than how to cool a building by using the right materials,” said Ms Jaber.
“The design of a building’s walls can help keep it cool with correct cavity insulation or solar reflective coating on the exterior.
“Many new buildings have big windows, which is great for natural light but they can create a much warmer room that is harder to cool.”
Taking control of internal air conditioning units can be a sure-fire way to increase efficiency at the hottest time of year.
Maintenance companies said the demand for services soared in recent years, as older buildings struggle to maintain cooler temperatures during summer.
“The number of people booking our AC maintenance services have doubled over the last year as people try to make sure their units are prepared for the heat,” said Hisham Jaber, co-founder of The Healthy Home, which has more than 50,000 clients in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Regular AC maintenance and duct cleaning can help maintain optimal airflow and eliminate dust build-up, improving cooling performance.
July was the hottest year since record keeping began for worldwide temperatures.
And on Thursday temperatures hit 50.2°C in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, the National Centre of Meteorology reported.
Mr Jaber said as that trend continues, demand for regular maintenance and new cooling solutions will also increase.
“As per our client feedback, the AC cleaning and maintenance services provided by the building and community maintenance companies are usually not enough,” he said.