Tackling overheating in homes: The big picture - New Findings

June 15, 2023

New homes are being built and retrofitted to meet higher thermal efficiency standard. These include improved air-tightness and fabric insulation, which can increase the risk of overheating if steps are not taken alongside this to enable excess heat to be easily removed. Moreover, the expected increase in the frequency of heat waves and future rises in average external temperatures as result of climate change are likely to drive more cases of overheating in our homes.

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Although overheating is gaining greater recognition as a potential threat to the health and well-being of occupants – particularly for vulnerable groups - greater insight into the perceptions of stakeholders is needed to understand what this might mean for future policies and frameworks. As part of a major project being led by the Zero Carbon Hub, we carried out a survey of the UK housing sector to gain a better understanding of the types of measures being implemented to help address the issue. Our analysis of the results has revealed some interesting patterns.

We received 75 responses from a variety of organisations within the housing sector, including registered social landlords, house builders, local authorities and architectural practices; with responsibility for a total of 207,728 homes across the UK.

One of the questions asked is whether Housing Providers are routinely assessing their stock for overheating risk. The results suggest that 59% of the respondents have a form or risk assessment process in place, whereas 36% did not. The remaining 5% did not know (Figure 1). This finding highlights a need to educate the sector on the different methodologies and tools available for predicting internal temperatures and occurrence of overheating at the design or pre-retrofit stage. Zero Carbon Hub published a review in March 2015 which summarised the tools and methodologies available to carry out these assessments.

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Levels of action taken varied. We wanted to know if commissioners were asking contractors to outline what they would do about overheating when building or retrofitting home. The results were quite revealing. Over half of those involved in new build did not specify overheating related requirements in contracts with architects or designers. This means that for those projects there were no overheating specifications or additional requirements for the developer. 

Our survey also examined how organisations uncover overheating problems. This is largely adhoc at present.  Out of the respondents who reported instances of overheating, over 40% discovered the problem through unsolicited customer feedback or complaints. Figure 2 below illustrates the other reporting and feedback processes respondents have in place identify overheating issues.

This is just a snippet of the evidence base. There is a tonne more.  

We are proud to have assisted to analyse these issues, helped gain sense of the challenges facing the sector and some possible avenues that could assist.  The full report is out very soon. Keep an eye on the Zero Carbon Hub’ website.

 

 

 

Baker Homes

Baker Homes