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.
Vellei, M., Ramallo Gonzalez, A. P., Coley, D., Lee, J., Gabe-Thomas, E., Lovett, T., & Natarajan, S. (2017). Overheating in vulnerable and non-vulnerable households. Building Research and Information, 45(1-2), 102-118. https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2016.1222190