A warning by MPs that climate change could cause heat-related deaths to treble by 2050 has prompted insulation specialist Actis to reiterate its call for architects and specifiers to create homes which stay cool in summer as well as warm in winter.
The Environmental Audit Committee published a report into ‘Heatwaves: adapting to climate change’. The Committee found that failing to address the danger of heatwaves will threaten the wellbeing of an increasing number of vulnerable people.
The committee urged the government to take action to mitigate the effects of the extreme heat – and among measures suggested are ensuring that homes are built to remain at lower temperatures in the hot weather.
Experts say prolonged increased temperatures combined with an ageing population could see ‘excess’ summer deaths rise from more than 2,000 in the heatwave of 2003 to 7,000 by the middle of the century.
Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said, “Heatwave warnings are welcomed as barbecue alerts, but they threaten health, wellbeing and productivity. The Met Office has projected that UK summer temperatures could regularly reach 38.5°C by the 2040s. The Government must stop playing pass the parcel with local councils and the NHS and develop a strategy to protect our ageing population from this increasing risk.
“Heatwaves cause premature deaths from cardiac, kidney and respiratory disease. There will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 if the Government does not take action.
“The government needs to do more to warn the public of the health risks of heatwaves, particularly when they fall outside of the summer period, and should appoint a minister to lead work across government. The government’s new adaptation plan promises no effective action to prevent overheating in buildings. It must change building regulations and planning policies to ensure homes and transport networks are able to deal with extreme heat, and that local authorities and cities have green spaces and heat-resilient infrastructure.”
The call has been welcomed by Dan Anson-Hart, specification manager at Actis, whose Hybrid insulation products are designed to help keep houses cool in summer as well as warm in winter.
“While using reflective insulation alone will certainly not cure the problem it will play an important role in enabling houses to remain at a pleasant temperature,” he said.
“As well as helping homes stay warm in winter, reflective insulation technologies have the specific ability to counteract heat transfer via radiation. This helps to reflect the solar heat and keep the property at a constant low relative temperature.
“No form of insulation can address the significant effects of solar gain through windows though. Neither can it make you an ice cream when you’re hot. Even we aren’t omnipotent!”