Despite the weather returning to normal – fortunately or unfortunately, however you see it – there is something big that we need to discuss: Overheating.
While we may be comfortable in our homes now, I can guarantee many people were in major discomfort as the sun shone in through large windows in their homes all day long, with no way of cooling the place down.
When outdoors in the heat, it’s easy enough to step into a shop with air conditioning to cool down for a moment. When you’re at home, however, it becomes much easier to escape the heat.
If the extreme weather we experienced this summer is to continue as forecast in the future, then real changes need to be made to the way in which new homes are built. Yes, new builds are increasingly energy efficient in order to keep the warmth in the house, but there needs to be some kind of alternative to cool down the buildings when the temperatures rise outside. In other countries, homes are built to manage the heat with air conditioning, something which we do not see often, if at all, in the UK.
A report covered by BBC Radio 4 interviewed a London resident who lives in a new build. Some of the comments she made were shocking, and most certainly food for thought. Year on year, alarms will go off because the building is so hot, the sensors think the building is on fire. Even through opening vents, the alarms do not stop immediately. Listen to the interview here, the feature begins at 7:27.
For homes which have already been built and cannot have major redesigns, the use of fans is an obvious option. Fans, however, are loud and often do not make an area feel cool for very long. As an alternative, or even an addition, there is an option to utilise shading products to lessen the all-day glare of the sun, creating cooler living spaces. We have succeeded in providing this kind of shading for many clients, from additions to existing houses, to specification in new builds, like this one.
A longer-term solution is to treat the issue of overheating at the design stage of new buildings, whether housing, care homes, hospitals or nursing homes, when extreme temperatures can be fatal. Research from Parliament states that the number of heat-related deaths in the UK is expected to rise from 2,000 to approximately 7,000 each year by the 2050s. This is huge, and all efforts must be made to reduce these figures.
More information on this research relating to building regulations and the NHS can be found by clicking here.
We’d love to hear your opinions on this – what else can we do in the industry to help overcome overheating ?