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As UK temperatures soar heat-related deaths are set to increase 250%

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De Montfort University (DMU) has helped compile a report warning that heat-related deaths in our own homes could almost treble in less than 40 years and cost more than £6billion.

The new report prepared for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) examining the dangers of overheating in residential housing warns that by the 2050’s there may be approximately 4,000 heat-related deaths per year in the UK - an increase of 250% against current levels.

In addition, it is estimated that costs to deal with heat-related death and morbidity could increase by around £84m-£183m per year in the same period.

By the 2050's, the southern part of England could see temperature rises of between 2.3ºC and 2.7ºC. In addition, the frequency and intensity of heat waves could increase, particularly in the south. One third of London’s summer may exceed the Met Office heat wave temperature threshold - a day temperature of 32°C and night temperature of 18°C.

The report - The Economics of Climate Resilience, Buildings and Infrastructure Theme: Overheating in Residential Housing – features contributions from a range of experts including Dr Stephen Porritt, a Research Fellow in DMU’s Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development.

Dr Porritt said: “A changing climate is projected to bring a gradual increase in mean summer temperature in the UK. In addition, the frequency and intensity of heat waves could increase in future, particularly in southern parts of England. As a result, heat-related death and morbidity could dramatically increase in the future.”

The report warns that the ability of organisations in the housing sector to prepare for the effects of overheating is low and that housing in the UK is difficult to adapt. Currently there is limited consumer demand in the UK for residential cooling equipment, but this could rise in the future if houses are not designed or adapted to cope with rising temperatures.

Dr Porritt added: “There is a clear and urgent need for action to be taken, given the potential scale of the impact on energy for cooling and associated CO2 emissions in response to rising temperatures. Housing retrofit has concentrated on reducing heating energy use. Future refurbishment programmes need to consider the impact on both summer overheating and winter heating energy use to provide safe and efficient houses.”

A full copy of the report is available on the DEFRA website.

Posted on Thursday 7th March 2013

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