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Disturbed sleep a growing problem because of warmth of energy-efficient new homes

June 20, 2020

By Paul Homewood


h/t Mad Mike


Whoops! Now, who would have thunk that?


Sleeping problems are on the rise because energy-efficient homes are too warm at night, a Government study has concluded.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) reported that high temperatures are causing new homes to fail standards designed to tackle sleep deprivation.

The problem will get worse over the next 30 years as properties designed to be energy-efficient become so hot at night that people will not be able to sleep properly in the warmest months.

Experts have warned that highly insulated homes leave people "stewing in their beds".

The study looked at new flats and houses in sites around England, including developments in Nottingham, Southampton and London, and concluded that none met the acceptable standard – the "compliance threshold" – for overheating set by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)….

  1. June 20, 2020 11:31 am

    Well, they’re just going to have to install air con units

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 20, 2020 1:21 pm

      Which people won’t be able to afford to run because of the global warming tax hiked cost of electricity.

    • bobn permalink
      June 20, 2020 1:34 pm

      How about installing opening windows – I know they are new high tech devices but they do work!
      Oh. And maybe turn the heating off – that helps.
      My highly insulated house keeps me cool in summer.
      My uninsulated shed is baking hot!

      • Joe Public permalink
        June 20, 2020 2:07 pm

        Ah, but opening windows allows sleep-disturbing noise to enter. 😀

      • June 20, 2020 3:51 pm

        My thoughts, but I see below there are reasons you can’t do that or other means of amelioration of night time temperatures. You could get a ceiling fan or window fan. I doubt you need AC very often in the UK.

        I grew up in the US south before air conditioners were available. Fans and open windows seemed to work.

  2. David permalink
    June 20, 2020 11:36 am

    I can rarely sleep without an open window. The ridiculous modern building regulations requiring an hermetically sealed home contribute to this problem and also cause disease through inadequate ventilation. They even control radiator sizes that make a room so cool that an open window is impossible.

    • dearieme permalink
      June 20, 2020 1:44 pm

      “radiator sizes that make a room so cool that an open window is impossible”: unless you live at 2000′ altitude that must be an absurd exaggeration.

  3. Ben Vorlich permalink
    June 20, 2020 11:39 am

    In warmer parts of Europe I’m familiar with, mainly France, though not southern Europe winter has the same keeping warm issueespecially at higher altitudes.But summers are warmer and keeping cool is achieved even in insulated houses by the simple expediant of opening shutters and windows in the early morning to let in the cool air, then as temperature climbs windows and shutters are closed and activity kept to a minimum. That’s not to say during a long hot spell it doesn’t get uncomfortble. The thing about external shutters, as opposed to curtains is that the warmth from the sun is kept outside the building

    • jack broughton permalink
      June 20, 2020 9:09 pm

      I fully agree that external shutters are terrific and don’t understand why we don’t have them in the UK any more. They give good security and good insulation. Most French houses seem to have them as do Spanish houses.

      I used to spend a lot of time working in Africa and always tried to acclimatise so as to do without the noisy A/C machines: a simple fan is adequate really. In fact hot rooms create amazing dreams in my experience, almost hallucinations…… maybe it was the beer?

  4. mikewaite permalink
    June 20, 2020 11:51 am

    A hermetically sealed house , with a typical family of 4, each member breathing out CO2 at 40,000ppm. Do they have open trays of sodium hydoxide to soak up the CO2?
    Either here or at WUWT there was the report of a paper that claimed CO2 levels above 500ppm caused significant cognitive decline. If the current obsession with everything green has resulted in 10 Downing St being converted into a hermetically sealed house, that might explain a lot.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      June 21, 2020 7:52 am

      5000ppm. US Navy says up 10,000 ppm is OK. 500 ppm is reached in any kitchen.

  5. Mike Jackson permalink
    June 20, 2020 12:41 pm

    Sod’s Law Rules?!

  6. Adam Gallon permalink
    June 20, 2020 1:09 pm

    Whenever I’ve stayed in a hotel, it’s usually turn heating off & open the window, as soon as I’ve walked into my room.

  7. Thomas Carr permalink
    June 20, 2020 1:12 pm

    This story is approaching the fatuous. Hardly worth your attention Paul , at least, until opening windows are made illegal.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 20, 2020 1:24 pm

      Rubbish!. A good night’s sleep is a vital part of the good health of humans as numerous studies have shown. That global warming obsessed bureaucrats are making life worse for people with ill-thought out regulations fits perfectly with this site.

      • dave permalink
        June 20, 2020 7:23 pm

        I agree with Gerry.

        A proper sleep pattern is essential to seeing-off viral infections, like coronavirus, before they can take hold.

        And that means eight hours of good sleep in every twenty-four.

        Stop drinking at 8 PM, stop looking at the flickering, f*ing, screens at 10 PM, and mebbe take some melatonin.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        June 21, 2020 10:35 am

        Insulation stops heating getting out in winter, and will stop it travelling the other way (into the building) in summer. So external shutters on doors and windows, open the windows in the cool of the morning then shut both the shutters and windows as the heat builds up, Sleep downstairs when it gets extremely hot. In France copying the locals, this is what they do, means AirCon is not really necessary.

    • Joe Public permalink
      June 20, 2020 2:08 pm

      Some are very susceptible to noise, particularly traffic noise, disturbing their sleep.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      June 20, 2020 9:04 pm

      It’s not as simple as that Thomas – as pointed out noise, be it traffic, foxes, boy racers, louts, or whatever, is often a problem.

      But windows in super-insulated properties tend to be smaller, and simply opening a window does not cause a substantial exchange of air, indeed sealing buildings is part of the ‘improved’ insulation.

      The other point is that in conventional construction the building’s masonry acts as a considerable thermal buffer, moderating high and low temperatures. Obviously if the masonry is insulated, or is (as most of these modern insulated buildings are) made of wood/wood derivative panels (sips) there is no masonry at all.

  8. Dan permalink
    June 20, 2020 1:17 pm

    Wow. What a non story. Properties will become so hot… With persumably no energy input.

    I will be sure to remember this on my next trip to a refining compound outside Doha.

  9. Gerry, England permalink
    June 20, 2020 1:33 pm

    I can certainly identify with poor sleep when it is too warm. The bedroom space of my chalet bungalow gets really hot at time so my solution was 2 18 inch fans to blow the air out after sunset and it works nearly always because in the countryside it cools off quite rapidly even on a hot day. The fans are aligned with any breeze but if there isn’t any then the fans move so much air they create their. Leaving the windows open vents the heat that seeps from the structure once the fans are off. On the worst nights, one fan slowly running can create enough air to cool.

    But in built up areas you have UHI which of course they deny exists or has any effect. Climategate crook Jones of the UEA claims it is no more than half a degree yet i have seen my in car thermometer change 5 degrees driving out of the suburbs. So if you deny UHI then your buildings won’t include the measures to combat it which is mainly going to aircon. And just like the great heat pumps, anything using electricity is going to get more and more expensive to run.

  10. Patsy Lacey permalink
    June 20, 2020 2:07 pm

    The article also says that the problem is like to be exacerbated by climate change over the next 30 years! WHAT???

  11. johnbillscott permalink
    June 20, 2020 2:36 pm

    Hermetically sealed homes are ripe for mold growth and present a danger to health. Opening window helps. I used and air/air (inside air out outside air in via a heat exchanger) exchanger to keep house healthy. I use it in conjunction with air heat pump feeding the house ducts.

  12. Broadlands permalink
    June 20, 2020 2:42 pm

    A disturbing story. I thought that little children were losing sleep because they were so worried about global warming/climate change. Maybe sleeping in warm rooms is a simulation of what the future will be like?

    • bobn permalink
      June 20, 2020 2:57 pm

      British people so hate the disturbed sleep of being in a warm room that they never go south in the summer to hot sunny destinations. Instead we see the english all flocking to Scotland for their summer holidays so they can better sleep in the cooler air!-)

  13. Harry Passfield permalink
    June 20, 2020 2:44 pm

    My friend in the southern USA (where summers are very hot) lived in a house equipped with a central extractor fan in the roof space. This had the effect of removing warmed air from the house and drawing in cooler air from below. I’m told it worked very well. When I lived in North Carolina we had to put up with noisy A/C and a very large heat exchanger/furnace in the basement (but it also worked).

  14. Curious George permalink
    June 20, 2020 3:23 pm

    Global warming finally proven. It occurs in new homes.

  15. Coeur de Lion permalink
    June 20, 2020 5:37 pm

    Try doing a decent job of work each day. Or sling a hammock.

  16. Alan Keith permalink
    June 20, 2020 7:09 pm

    We built ourselves a new house three years ago. It has lots of windows and does get quite warm when the sun shines even in winter. However, most of the windows open so no problem letting the heat out. We also have a heat recovery ventilation system. In the winter we enjoy a continuous fresh environment with 90% heat recovery. In summer it bypasses the heat recovery but still changes the air so keeps the house from overheating at night. Why these systems are not mandatory in new builds I do not know. To get adequate ventilation in hermetically sealed new houses in winter without such a system you have to open windows and throw 30% of your heat away. I recommended the system to a friend who was having a new house built but the architect told him it wouldn’t be worth the cost!.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      June 20, 2020 9:14 pm

      All that extra expense and resources, instead of just building a comfy/healthy (=leaky) home in the first place, in order to ‘save’ energy/money, you’ve used more energy/money upfront. Diminishing returns and all that.

      It’s a bit like the lingering suspicion that if honestly accounted, electric cars are not kinder for the planet at all. And I see NTZ has another article claiming that again.

  17. June 20, 2020 7:51 pm

    O/T Dawdon, geothermal from abandoned coal mine
    another Green gimmick ?
    My first guess is that getting planning permission for 1,500 homes is FREE MONEY

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      June 20, 2020 9:22 pm

      In the BBC link it says a trial scheme was shut because of cost.

      I guess it’s just a variation on ground source heat pumps, instead of burying pipes and circulating liquid in a closed loop system, they use the mine water in an open system.

      • Curious George permalink
        June 21, 2020 12:46 am

        “Mr Banks said one small trial heating scheme in Scotland had closed after it became too costly to maintain.

        He said maintenance could be better handled by a large project such as one underway in Gateshead town centre.”

        Think BIG! (and don’t ask for details)

  18. Mack permalink
    June 21, 2020 12:04 am

    Unless I missed it, I’m surprised they didn’t mention the ‘go to’ gadget for the ‘Green Future’: electric heat pumps. Noisey as hell. The traditional airing cupboard, where your hot water tank used to be, is a complete gonna, now replaced by a giant kettle with a myriad of Medusa like, non sound proofed, pipe work, meaning you have no room to air your bedding, sheets and towels etc but it is guaranteed to wake the whole household up when it kicks in during the night. That’s progress for ya. Or not, as the case may be.

    • Duker permalink
      June 21, 2020 12:39 am

      Heat pumps work continuously as they mostly now use inverter ( DC) technology to have a continuously variable compressor speed. So no ‘kicking in’
      I know because I have 2, and yes the bedroom one is to keep room cool overnight in summer, mostly to reduce the high humidity as I dont have the temp set much below the ambient temp.
      The humidity setting of the cooling is very efficient using very little power over night – yes my smart meter tells me this in half hourly intervals which my power supplier displays as a bar chart on its app.

      Then I live in a temperate country where the summers and winters dont get too hot or cold but humidity is an issue both seasons

      • Mack permalink
        June 21, 2020 1:13 am

        Not sure where you live Duker, but the heat pump I’m referring to has recently been rolled out in housing association properties across the U.K. It’s manufactured by Mitsubishi and even the installers admit its much noisier than conventional gas/oil or electric heating systems of similar spec. Having stayed in a property with such a system recently I can confirm that it’s much louder than a conventional gas central heating system with similar output. But, heh, I might just have been unlucky in staying in one particular house with a technical problem and, subsequently, and rather unfortunately, met several other householders who’ve recently acquired the same system and been similarly sleep disturbed! Purely a coincidence I’m sure.

  19. donald penman permalink
    June 21, 2020 6:18 am

    I think that it not just the increased temperature that is the problem but the increased humidity at night. Opening a window can reduce the humidity which rises at night but I have a ceiling fan which I use a lot in summer and it helps .

    • Bertie permalink
      June 21, 2020 7:12 am

      CanNOT, surely?

    • dave permalink
      June 21, 2020 8:40 am

      As air becomes more humid* it will tend to rise, but this can only be made a natural source of circulation if there is a WAY IN at the bottom, as well as a WAY OUT at the top. Hence those “air bricks” which may be noticed near the ground in well built late-Victorian town houses – now, often, accidentally or deliberately blocked!

      The phrase “it tends to rise,” in explanation of convection,is one of those expressions of meteorology which are misleading. The rising air itself is passive and inert. The surrounding, denser, atmosphere FORCES its way in underneath, and pushes the lighter air parcel in an upwards direction.

      * Water vapour is less dense than air. A “heavy” atmosphere is psychological; it is actually a “light” atmosphere.

  20. Andrew permalink
    June 21, 2020 10:52 am

    For retaining heat in winter and retaining coolness in summer the best place I have ever lived in was an 18th century cottage (built originally for agricultural workers) with clay lump (I think the right term) walls. I guess this links to an earlier post about building materials.
    Mind you, it was small.

  21. David Bush permalink
    June 21, 2020 1:01 pm

    Stop the problem before it reaches the glass it is basic science an external blind or shutter will convert short wave light to long wave heat and it will not pass through the glass. Likewise if it is converted after it passes through it will not go back out known as the greenhouse effect.
    The increase in energy for air-con from a BRE report was from 20 – 29TW that is the 9TW projected output of Hinkley Point increasing air-con is not the answer.

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