• Jade Price

It's not all Christmas and snow angels - the dark side of winter

With winter on everyone’s minds, what is your biggest concern?

For most people it will be ensuring the car is defrosted in the morning, making sure to wear extra layers when out and about, or even a mild winter cold.


But, for the 3.18 million households in fuel poverty this winter, it will be whether they are able to heat their home adequately


Living in an underheated home can cause multitudes of problems for the building infrastructure, building management and the occupants, for example damp & mould issues, fitness for human habitation claims and tenant illness or death.


So, what is the correct temperature for a home?

The recommended daytime range for occupied rooms is 19 to 21°C, whilst at night this drops to 18°C[2]. Anything above 24°C is too warm, and may put babies and small children at risk[2].

If a home is bellow 13°C it may increase blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease[2]. Between 14 and 15°C, an occupants resistance to respiratory diseases is diminished[2].


But what actually are the risks of a cold home?


1. Risk of illness

As stated above, a cold home can lead to increased blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease as well as diminishing resistance to respiratory diseases[2].

For someone who is already at risk or unwell, this can be devastating, leading to hospitalisation or even death.

A cold home can also lead to damp and mould which can be deadly for inhabitants. Mould produces allergens, irritants and toxic substances that can cause severe allergic reactions or asthma attacks when inhaled [5].


2. Risk of death

In winter from 2019 to 2020, there was an estimated 28,300 excess winter deaths in England and Wales[3]. It might be thought that excess winter deaths are primarily caused by hypothermia or extremes of cold, when in fact it is the respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by normal winter temperatures – when the outdoor temperature drops below 5-8°C[4]. This risk of death is then increased when a home is underheated.


What can be done?


Housing providers must ensure that properties are properly heated in order to mitigate the risk of damp and mould, and its associated fitness for human habitation claims, which can be costly.


By using connected technologies, situations of fuel poverty can be identified before the issues arise, meaning that help can be provided to protect the wellbeing of tenants.


The combination of BCM with MultiDot will allow you to determine if a property’s heating is being used correctly for the time of year, as well as monitoring the property’s temperature and humidity to evaluate the risk of damp and mould. This information can be used to inform wellbeing procedures to help tenants in these situations.






References:

[1] Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

[2] Centre for Sustainable Energy

[3] Office for National Statistics

[4] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

[5] NHS

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