Over 4.6 million English bedrooms experience overheating during summer.

woman with fan ftd image | BRE Group

As the UK and much of Europe experiences a record-breaking heatwave, we’re revisiting the most recent study on Summertime overheating. We worked with academics at Loughborough University on the largest and most comprehensive study to date looking at overheating in English homes in 2021.

Led by Loughborough University and in partnership with BRE (Building Research Establishment), 750 English homes were assessed through both monitoring and questionnaires.

Weighting the results to the national housing stock, the study revealed that 4.6million English bedrooms (19% of the stock) and 3.6million living rooms (15%) overheated.

“With global temperatures likely to be 1.5 ◦C above pre-industrial levels by 2052, the threats posed by climate change are of world-wide concern. Heatwaves will increase in frequency, intensity, and duration, and so will the health risks associated with them – Professor Kevin Lomas from Loughborough’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

The other key findings from the study were:

  • Overheating was more prevalent in bedrooms at night than in living rooms during the day.
  • The prevalence of living room overheating was significantly greater in flats (30%) than other dwelling types.
  • Improved fabric energy efficiency did not significantly increase the risk of overheating.
  • The prevalence of monitored overheating was greater in households living in social housing, with low incomes or with members aged over state pension age.

The research team is calling for action to be taken to mitigate the risks associated with increased summertime temperatures in existing homes. This includes better control over the methods of construction and refurbishment of flats; targeted public health messaging around overheating especially for those most at risk; and a call to building professionals to design and refurbish dwellings which are cool in summer as well as warm in winter.

terraced houses
Speaking about the study, research lead Professor Kevin Lomas from Loughborough’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, said: “With global temperatures likely to be 1.5 ◦C above pre-industrial levels by 2052, the threats posed by climate change are of world-wide concern. Heatwaves will increase in frequency, intensity, and duration, and so will the health risks associated with them.

“With the majority of fatal heat exposures in developed nations occurring indoors, the findings of our study show just how many homes in England are at risk of overheating. With the most vulnerable members of our society – the elderly, the very young, those living in deprived areas, and those with chronic physical and/or mental health conditions – being most at risk, action needs to be taken now to mitigate the dangers increased temperatures will bring.”

The research paper ‘Dwelling and household characteristics’ influence on reported and measured summertime overheating: A glimpse of a mild climate in the 2050’s’ is published in the international journal Building and Environment. Further information about Loughborough’s research in this area can be found here.