Us Brits sure love to complain about the weather – in fact, it’s become synonymous with our national character. So, when temperatures hit a record high this July, you can bet that we did what we do best: complained about it. However, with weather trends and global warming set to make 40-degree heat more commonplace in the UK, we’ve compiled our advice on how to handle a heatwave.
Sure, we know that New Builds are the epitome of modern style, but precisely how cool do they stay in a heatwave? The Climate Change Committee have released some concerning statistics, stating that over 570,000 properties have been built since 2016 that were unable to function properly in high temperatures. Even worse is the fact that 1.5 million more properties are under construction that suffer from the same faults.
New developments may be more likely to come with air-conditioning, but this solution is far from sustainable, with AC units contributing to emissions and ultimately making heatwaves increasingly likely. What’s more, with stricter rules coming into place in the construction industry with an aim to pursue carbon neutrality, we anticipate that the unsustainability of these AC units will make them quickly outdated. Furthermore, newer properties come with an abundance of insulation which, although great for saving on heating bills in the winter, unfortunately contributes to heat retention during hotter weather, meaning that your air conditioning must really pull its weight to have any effect. With new EPC standards coming into play for all new builds, we can expect more robust insulation to become standard, potentially exacerbating the issue. With energy bills soaring, the cost of having your AC on 24/7 is not financially viable for most households.
Unfortunately, older properties are often no better than their new-build counterparts at surviving the sweltering heat. Traditionally, buildings in Britain were composed to resist our cold, rainy autumns and bitter winters, with the UK not being known for its toasty weather so much as it’s dreary grey skies. Therefore, most builds are constructed with one main goal: to keep the heat in, and keep the cold out. However, this has resulted in quite a few problems in more uncommon, warm weather, with heat being unable to escape older properties.
Heatwaves go beyond creating an uncomfortable environment to live and work, but can impact the structural integrity of our homes. The contraction and expansion of building materials as the British weather ebbs and flows had contributed to structural damage and cracks in the walls of our homes. During the 2018 heatwave, there was a spike in soil subsidence as the materials beneath our homes which formed solid foundations for our buildings began to dry out. This resulted in over 10,000 households making insurance claims over the months following the scorching summer of 2018, with their claims totalling £64 million.
The current cost of living crisis makes cost-effective solutions to heatwaves more important than ever, especially with heatwaves set to become more and more frequent and longer lasting. The Met Office have stated that our actions, which have increased the temperatures of our land, atmosphere and ocean, are directly to blame for the increased frequency of extreme weather. Paired with an economic downturn, our ability to retrofit our properties to withstand the heat has never looked so extortionate.
Heatwaves have a direct impact on our health and the health of our family pets, with many Brits taking days off work to look after their animals and ensure they are as comfortable as possible in the heat. This contributes to a downturn in productivity, expensive vet bills and, in the worst case scenario, the loss of our most loyal friends. With the Met Office releasing a ‘threat to life’ warning for the first time in British history, looking after our pets has never been more important.
What’s more the new era of hybrid working makes our homes double-up as our offices, which means that heat will start to impact our productivity and ability to earn a living. Most offices are fitted with air conditioning, with employers and builders understanding that extreme heat can be of detriment to the amount of quality work that we produce: it’s time these solutions made their way into our homes.
British weather will undoubtedly remain dreary for 95 per cent of the year, but with global warming intensifying we can be sure that the rogue 5 per cent of British sunny days will become increasingly difficult to handle. Many homeowners, with traditional and new builds alike, are retrofitting their space with solutions that keep their winters warm and their summer’s cool. This includes external additions that are seen in many foreign countries with consistently warm climates, such as thoughtfully placed trees to produce shade, and canopies outside balconies and conservatories. However, some New Builds are starting to adopt the ‘passive house’ model where optimal energy efficiency and temperature regulation are at the heart of the property’s construction: this involves innovative concepts such as solar chimneys, air-source heat pumps, and wind catchers, as well as being positioning windows away from direct sunlight.
Whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, here are a few ideas for keeping cool:
For more tailored advice on how to retrofit your existing property, or to purchase or rent your next home that can withstand the British weather, get in touch with Centrick.
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