Why are some people’s homes overheating?

For many years Elmhurst have pushed the mantra to “build tight & ventilate right”. We have always advocated that ‘energy conservation’ Regulations Part L (England & Wales), Section 6 (Scotland) and Part F (Northern Ireland), must be enforced alongside the ‘Ventilation’ Regulations. One without the other leads to unintended consequences such as poor air quality and overheating.

The good news is that a consultation on overheating in homes is expected soon from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), alongside existing homes (Part L1b) and Non-Domestic buildings (L2). These will sit alongside the already consulted on new Part L and F standards and the road to the future homes standard; we can only hope for some joined up thinking and an increase in standards on energy and ventilation, to ensure that overheating is not something that occupiers of new homes need to experience.

Overheating is indeed a very complex area of work. Whilst it is all about assessment, modeling and good design, it is also about ensuring that all the elements installed in the home are fitted correctly and work to the intended standards, with occupants knowing how to operate the whole home.

Stuart Fairlie, Technical & Operations Director at Elmhurst, comments: “We must makes sure our homes are fit for the 21st century by adopting a ‘whole building’ approach. A good example of the 'unintended consequences' when considering building elements in insolation, was evident especially in urban locations with the widespread fitting of double glazing. Obviously double glazing is considered good for saving energy and keep drafts out of homes; however, a problem occured for those living in cities, particularly in apartment blocks and flats. Occupant couldn’t leave their double glazing windows open for security reason, in addition to this, trickle vents were often taped up due to perceived cold drafts in the winter and air bricks were also subsequently covered over for the same reasons. This left occupiers with damp and mold and overheating in the summer months.

Similar issues exists with other technologies such as community heating and hot water pipes in corridors providing heat at the wrong time of the year into flats they were distributing too.

I have personally witnessed flats in London, where tenants were living in homes that were seriously suffering from a lack of ventilation. The issue is complex and as soon as we see the consultation we will advocate for a strengthening of standards, commissioning and testing. Joining up Part L and F together – as one without the other is a waste of time. As our climate is undoubtedly changing we need to build new homes and retrofit existing ones correctly. We also need to ensure that we give great advice to occupants at handovers about the importance of operating their home correctly.”

A good article on this in today’s FT: https://www.ft.com/content/cf668430-fee8-45d4-982c-4b2996186879

Published: 25/08/20

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