Overheating in vulnerable and non-vulnerable households

Marika Vellei, Alfonso P. Ramallo Gonzalez, David Coley, Jeehang Lee, Elizabeth Gabe-Thomas, Thomas Lovett, Sukumar Natarajan

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As the 2003 European heatwave demonstrated, overheating in homes can cause wide-scale fatalities. With temperatures and heatwave frequency predicted to increase due to climate change, such events can be expected to become more common. Thus, investigating the risk of overheating in buildings is key to understanding the scale of the problem and in designing solutions. Most work on this topic has been theoretical and based on lightweight dwellings that might be expected to overheat. By contrast, this study collects temperature and air quality data over two years for vulnerable and non-vulnerable UK homes where overheating would not be expected to be common. Overheating was found to occur, particularly and disproportionately in households with vulnerable occupants. As the summers in question were not extreme and contained no prolonged heatwaves, this is a significant and worrying finding. The vulnerable homes were also found to have worse indoor air quality. This suggests that some of the problem might be solved by enhancing indoor ventilation. The collected thermal comfort survey data were also validated against the European adaptive model. Results suggest that the model underestimates discomfort in warm conditions, having implications for both vulnerable and non-vulnerable homes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-118
Number of pages17
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number1-2
Early online date14 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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