Overheating in Housing- A Hot Topic

By Tom McNeil

18 November 2015

Last summer, now but a distant memory, there were a number of industry events held, and reports and guidance published, on the subject of overheating in housing.

An event held in June, organised by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), titled ‘Overheating and Indoor Air Quality in New Homes’, brought together a broad spectrum of industry folk, including house builders, researchers, consultants and architects. 

From the house builder’s perspective, particularly the Social Landlords, the event flagged up an appetite for a robust method for testing overheating at the design stage. This appetite has been fuelled by the increased number of complaints they are forced to deal with. Attendees were regaled by stories of residents sleeping on their balconies, desperate tenants removing windows to allow greater air flow, internal temperatures regularly over 30°C, and communal corridors in excess of 50°C. These are some extreme examples, but this evidence has been prompting real concern, especially for housing providers responsible for vulnerable residents.

The industry is tasked with building a huge number of new homes per year, and although quantity is important, so too is ensuring that new homes don’t overheat in summer, are warm in winter, and allow the resident to operate them in an energy efficient way. The issue of overheating in housing is perhaps something that has generally been overlooked in the industry, but is now becoming a much more significant issue. 

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