Adapting UK Dwellings for Heat Waves
The emphasis for UK dwelling refurbishment to date has centred on reducing heating energy use. However, there has been increasing evidence pointing to the need for a more holistic approach. Many existing dwellings already experience overheating during hot weather periods. Climate change projections predict increases in both the frequency and severity of extreme weather events including heat waves such as the one in August 2003, which is estimated to have claimed the lives of over 35,000 people throughout Europe, including 2,000 in the UK. Demand for housing exceeds the supply of new stock and it is estimated that over 70% of the dwellings that will be in use in 2050 have already been built. Therefore existing dwellings will require adaptation to provide more comfortable and safe environments, to reduce both summertime overheating and heating energy use. In this research, dynamic thermal simulation computer modelling was used to assess and rank the effectiveness of selected single and combined passive interventions (adaptations) on dwelling overheating during a heat wave period. Simulations were also carried out to assess the effect of those interventions on annual space heating energy use. Four distinct dwelling types were selected to represent the housing stock in London and South East England, producing seven modelling variants: 19th century end and mid-terraced houses; 1930s semi-detached house; 1960s ground, mid and top floor flats and a modern detached house. Simulations were carried out for two different occupancy profiles and four building orientations and the cost of interventions was also considered in the analysis. The first occupancy profile assumed a ‘typical’ family who left the dwellings unoccupied during the daytime, the second assumed residents who were at home all the time (e.g. elderly or infirm). Of the dwelling types studied the 1960s mid and top floor flats and the modern (2006) detached house (Tier 2) experienced more than twice as much overheating as the other dwelling types (Tier 1). Tier 2 dwellings were “harder to treat” and unlike Tier 1 dwellings their overheating exposure could not be eliminated using the selected passive interventions. It was possible to substantially reduce overheating and annual heating energy use of Tier 1 dwellings at moderate cost, whereas the costs for retrofitting Tier 2 dwellings were estimated to be many times higher. The results demonstrated that overheating exposure can be significantly greater for residents who have to stay at home during the daytime and they should not, where possible, be housed in the most vulnerable dwellings. External window shutters were found to be the single most effective intervention for overheating reduction in most of the dwelling types considered, typically resulting in a 50% reduction in overheating exposure. The exception was the 19th century terraced houses, where applying a solar reflective (high albedo) coating to the solid external walls was often more effective. In some cases the addition of insulation increased overheating and external wall insulation consistently outperformed internal wall insulation when considering the effect on overheating, though the latter could be effective as an element of combined interventions. Adaptation should therefore be considered together with mitigation, both in design practice and in regulations. If existing dwellings (for example the 19th century terraced houses) are retrofitted for energy efficiency, without considering summer use, overheating could increase dramatically. Subsequent corrective measures could be costly and energy efficiency may suffer as a result. This research builds on previous publications and research to generate systematic, quantitative and holistic guidance for retrofitting UK dwellings to reduce overheating risk during heat waves, whilst minimising annual space heating energy use and considering the cost of retrofit. An interactive retrofit advice toolkit has been developed (and made publicly available) as part of the research, which allows selection of the best performing interventions within a given budget. Recommendations for further development of the research are also suggested.
- PhD