Thermal adaptation to high indoor temperatures during winter in two UK social housing tower blocks
Paper in proceedings, 2016
This work explores the hypothesis that exposure to high indoor temperatures during winter can change thermal expectations of the occupants, challenging the standard boundaries of thermal comfort and leading to excess in energy demand for heating. The analysis presented here is based on two case study social housing tower buildings where indoor temperatures during the heating season have been maintained at high levels for many years. Five-minute readings of air temperature and relative humidity were gathered from the lounges and bedrooms of twenty flats from February to October 2014. The measured air temperatures in the sampled period were overall much higher than the standard comfort criteria, with averages of 24.8±2.2oC for the lounges and 23.1±1.8oC for the bedrooms. Interviews were carried out with seventeen tenants in October, enquiring about their views on the indoor environment, the use of controls and their thermal sensation at the time of the survey. The results show that most people were satisfied with the temperatures in their flats, regardless of them being much higher than recommended levels most of the time. The occupants’ adaptation to high temperatures could pose a great challenge to the implementation of energy use reduction strategies, if industry-based thermal criteria were to be met.