Britain's Housing Stock Faces Overheating Problem

While the focus for the construction of new build homes has been on eradicating the problem of cold homes, there are fears that the balance could start to tip – leading to fatalities in the summer months due to overheating, according to a report from the Zero Carbon Hub.

The housing sector has vowed to tackle the potentially fatal problem of overheating homes, which is said to affect potentially up to 20% of England's housing stock.

With the focus having been on energy efficient homes and building homes (and retrofitting them) to prevent heat loss in the winter, people could now be at risk of overheating – leading to a loss of well-being, ill health and even fatalities, says the report.

The problem is exacerbated by the number of unusually hot summers as the climate changes. Tackling the issue will require the New Build and Retrofit sectors to minimise the risk through good planning, design and construction.

And for existing buildings, support and advice must be available to building managers and contractors on the most effective adaptation measures, says the report.

As its research continues, the Zero Carbon Hub will deliver its findings to central and local government and its agencies, as well as planners, specifiers, architects, housebuilders, installers and consumer groups.

The organisation has been working with the UK government, industry and academic experts to develop frameworks and actions in order to address the issue in a systematic way.

Paul Ciniglio, sustainability and asset strategist at housing association First Wessex, commented: "As a forward-thinking organisation we understand that a new home that is fuel efficient but overheats in summer cannot be classed as truly sustainable."

He added: "Overheating can result in people becoming very ill and, in extreme cases, to fatalities. Particularly in vulnerable groups."