Report highlights risk of heat related deaths in UK homes

John Thompson
John Thompson
John Thompson

The Zero Carbon Hub has published a new report warning of the risks of overheating in energy efficient homes.

Previous to the introduction of the government’s zero carbon homes target, with its strict implementation of building standards and energy saving devices, ‘Overheating in Homes: The Big Picture’ highlights the unforeseen dangers of eco-homes which are designed to cut emissions and reduce winter heating bills, but often have life-threatening internal temperatures of over 25˚C in the summer months.

The report also warns that this issue will be further exacerbated by the effects of global warming, citing the 2003 heatwave in Northern France when temperatures soared above 40 ˚C, resulting in the deaths of 15,000 people. Groups highlighted as being particularly vulnerable to heat-related deaths are the elderly, obese, infants and those with chronic illnesses.

As well as reviewing research on why overheating happens, Zero Carbon Hub’s report also considers what the housing sector can do to address the risk, placing an emphasis on greater awareness of the issue during the design process. The alternative, dealing with overheating problems after they have occurred, can be difficult and costly. The document also sets out the various processes and checks the housing association and house builders already have in place and why these are viewed as essential for their business.

A second phase of the project is scheduled to begin this year, aiming to make more detailed suggestions about policies and frameworks, which could help to regulate temperatures in the nation’s homes without increasing their carbon footprint.

John Thompson, chief executive at Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, said: “This new report presents an interesting set of observations which must be given serious consideration, however, as is normally the case, further evidence to corroborate the findings may be required. A key priority for the housing sector should be finding ways to keep homes at safe and comfortable temperatures all year round, without forcing people to resort to energy-using cooling systems.”

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