become a common occurrence in the UK?
A heatwave is defined by the MET Office as ‘an extended period of hot weather relative to the expected conditions’, with the UK having experienced six major heatwaves in the last 20 years.
The MET Office
says hot summers are expected to become more common, stating, “The summer of
2018 was the equal-warmest summer for the UK along with 2006, 2003 and 1976.
Climate change has already increased the chance of seeing a summer as hot as
2018 to between 12-25%. With future warming, hot summers by mid-century could
become even more common, near to 50%.”
“By the 2070s,
the temperature of hot summer days shows increases of 3.8 °C to 6.8 °C, under a
high emissions scenario, along with an increase in the frequency of hot
spells.” With the UK struggling to cope with temperatures just 2°C above the
previous hottest day on record, an increase of nearly 7°C is likely to have a
profound effect on the way we live, impacting lives and infrastructure on a
Our homes are ill-equipped to cope with extreme heat
years, the shift has focused towards making our homes more energy efficient and
preventing heat escaping during the colder months. The increase in temperature
that we’ve just experienced highlights how ill-equipped our homes are at
dealing with hot weather.
A major issue
that should be addressed is the way we design our homes, in particular high
rise flats and apartments often based in urban areas. These types of buildings
make use of large windows that are often placed on one side of the dwelling,
making it very difficult for hot air to escape, resulting in overheating and
occupants experiencing uncomfortable living conditions.
To combat the
issue of overheating in new homes, the government recently introduced a new
regulation in June 2022 called ‘Part O’, designed to encourage developers to
“provide an adequate means to remove heat from the indoor environment”.
This is a good
first step to introduce measures to address excess heat that affects new-build
homes, however the government needs to look into ways of how the millions of
homes already standing can be effectively cooled and ventilated during the
summer months, as well as staying warm during the winter.
One solution is
to look to neighbouring countries to see how their buildings and homes are
geared up to cope with high temperatures and how our nation could replicate
inspiration from European countries with warm climates
Many homes in
countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy make use of whitewashed walls and
terracotta clay tiling for roofing, as it’s an effective way to reflect
sunlight, allowing housing to stay cool more consistently throughout the day.
These methods have been used for decades and could provide inspiration for
developing new homes that can cope with the heat more effectively. Whilst this
would be a tall order for homeowners to make structural changes to their
existing homes, there are other alternatives to keep the home nice and cool
that could work for many.
often make use of shutters on windows, which are closed throughout the hottest
part of the day, allowing rooms in the home to stay cool and comfortable.
Indoor and outdoor shutters are widely available in the UK and can also be used
during the winter to keep heat indoors, making them a more viable option for
homeowners. The use of awnings can provide shade for both outdoors and indoors
too, particularly if fitted over extensive areas of glass on houses.
More cost-effective ways to adapt our homes for hot weather is the use of plants to provide natural shading. Planting deciduous trees or plants in front of south facing homes will help to block out the strong sunlight during summertime, but allows the light to flood the rooms in winter when they shed their leaves.
that experience high temperatures more regularly than the UK, air conditioning
is another option to keep a home cool and comfortable. According to Energy.gov,
air conditioning releases roughly 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide
into the air each year. So whilst it could be a quick solution to cooling the rooms
in our homes, it’s not really a viable option for most people in the UK, due to
the overall cost of fitting and maintaining a system, not to mention it having
a negative impact on the environment.
property market be making changes now?
There is no
immediate need to make drastic changes to properties to cope with hot weather,
however it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, to see how the industry and
the government reacts to the predictions of more frequent heatwaves in the
government’s recent ‘Part O’ regulations introduced last month is a step in the
right direction, it doesn’t go far enough to address overheating in
pre-existing homes and buildings.
Looking at cost
effective ways for homeowners to adapt their homes would be an ideal next step
for the government to address, as well as continued development to create new
homes that allow us to keep cool in the summer, whilst being as efficient and
warm as possible in the winter months.
the issue of climate change and rising temperatures in the UK also needs to be
addressed quicker than in recent times. If we’re to see temperatures rise to
40°C more frequently, homeowners, landlords and developers need the right
support and information in order to allow us to live more comfortably and
safely during the summer months.
Adam Male, Estate Agent
Today, 6th August 2022