Earlier this week, a Level 3 Heat Alert was issued by the Met Office, with temperatures reaching 32.0°C in some parts of the country.
With the hot weather looking set to continue into next week, we look at some of the ways you can adapt your home to keep it cool and comfortable during the summer months.
The UK Government is the first major world economy to pass a net zero emissions target into law. This target is to bring all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to net zero by 2050.
By improving energy efficiency and embracing low carbon options such as heatpumps, emissions and energy costs should be kept down.
Many would argue that the focus has always been on the need to keep homes warm during winter, and whilst this is important, particularly with the increasing rise in the cost of living, it must be acknowledged that homes need to be designed to cope with the warmer months.
The 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report found that warming UK temperatures may lead to an increased risk of overheating, causing risks to health and wellbeing. Currently, 1 in 5 homes overheat, presenting an increased risk to those vulnerable to high temperatures, including older people and those living with disabilities.
All new buildings must conform to the standards set in the Building Regulations Act 2010, Part L focuses on the conservation of fuel and power and requires that “reasonable provision shall be made for the conservation of fuel and power in buildings by limiting heat gains and losses”, however, the risk of overheating is not adequately addressed and there still remains no legal requirement to prevent the overheating of homes.
With an increasing aging population and 14.6 million people living with disabilities in the UK, it is more important than ever to design and build homes that can withstand the increasing temperatures and make them as safe and comfortable as possible.
It only takes one disrupted night’s sleep as a result of the hot weather for people to start considering air conditioning units in their home.
By installing an air conditioning unit in your, you will be able to maintain a comfortable temperature, clean air and reduced humidity. However, despite many air conditioning units having a high efficiency rating, they rely on electricity, so running costs can stack up. They also often require annual servicing and regular checking of the filters.
Despite its name, a heat pump can keep your home warm by extracting heat from the interior and venting it outside. Considered as relatively ‘new’ technology in the UK, they are set to become a big part of the Government’s plans to reach net zero, with the aim being to install 600,00 every year before 2028.
Once again, there are financial concerns attached to installing heat pumps, as the installation cost is more expensive than a gas boiler. However, the long-term benefits may out way the initial cost.
If you are building a new home, the orientation of the building is a relatively straightforward consideration that can be made at the outset of the design process to protect against overheating in the summer, whilst staying warm in the winter.
In homes where this is possible, the building makes full advantage of sunlight, whilst minimising the risk of overheating and glare.
Insulating your home is an effective way of controlling the transfer of heat, meaning a well-insulated home stays warm in winter and takes longer to heat up in summer.
Foil insulation is reflective, meaning heat bounces off it and away from the house, keeping the temperature inside cooler. This slower movement of heat also prevents the home from overheating.
We all love a south facing garden, but south facing windows can create a ‘greenhouse’ effect and will cause internal heat to be trapped inside the home, and result in overheating. To prevent high-level sun, balconies or overhanging eaves can be incorporated into a design with limited impact on a person’s views.
Advances in glazing, and the evolution of ‘smart glass’ that automatically or manually adjusts to light, glare and heat prevents overheating. However, the cost is still considerably higher than the average residential window, making this option more common in commercial buildings.
Designing a home that allows for large amounts of air to circulate, is at a smaller risk of overheating. In most cases, higher temperatures can be tolerated if there is a perception of air movement.
Although not often a common choice in the UK, external shutters provide the maximum protection from the sun. However, the external design of the home needs to be carefully considered before committing to this ‘feature’. Internal shades, such as curtains and blinds, although less effective, can easily be retrofitted.
At France + Associates, our team are currently building an enerphit home, an ultra-low energy building that requires little energy for space heating and cooling. The home is being designed to be comfortable all year round, use less energy and have a low carbon footprint.
Each year in England and Wales, there is on average nearly 800 excess deaths associated with heat.*
Symptoms of heatstroke to look out for are:
• Dizziness and confusion
• Loss of appetite and feeling sick
• Excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
• Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
• Fast breathing or pulse
• Temperature of 38° or above
• Intense thirst
If you are concerned, always seek emergency medical help by calling 999 immediately.
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