We read with interest your coverage of this year’s RESI Conference, where many key issues were discussed. But there is one major problem that is often missing from the housing agenda: overheating.
Homes are becoming better at helping residents beat the cold, but are these warmer homes now hurting us in the summer?
Even this year’s relatively mild, wet summer hasn’t stopped residents feeling the heat. Our recent survey with ComRes found that 83% of Londoners suffered from overheating at some point this year.
This issue especially affects those that live in ‘urban heat islands’ and in the warmer south, and is likely to get worse. The issue will be exacerbated by urbanisation and population growth, which will lead to residents being ever more likely to live in new, well-insulated homes that are hotter than older, draughtier ones. Significantly, more than half of respondents said that overheating would influence their decision when buying a home.
Almost one in 10 of those already suffering have had to install their own air conditioning and 72% have opened their windows to cope - but in the future this won’t help, and it isn’t always an option on noisy city streets.
In the future, warmer temperatures will force us to use air conditioning anyway, so we should be designing buildings to use, or at least allow affordable retrofitting of, these systems.
Solving overheating will also help with wider health and productivity problems: nearly a third of Londoners are complaining of ill-health effects, and more than half are waking up in the night.
If building design and regulations aren’t changed now, the impact on health will worsen, productivity will reduce, energy consumption will increase and the long-term value of homes will be affected.
Barny Evans, sustainability and energy associate, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff