Harry Kennard, Gesche Huebner, David Shipworth and Tadj Oreszczyn
Fossil fuels dominate domestic heating in temperate climates. In the EU, domestic space heating accounts for around 20% of final energy demand. Reducing domestic demand temperatures would reduce energy demand. However, cold exposure has been shown to be associated with adverse health conditions. Using an observational dataset of 77,762 UK Biobank participants, we examine the standard deviation of experienced temperature (named here thermal variety) measured by a wrist worn activity and temperature monitor. After controlling for covariates such as age, activity level and obesity, we show that thermal variety is 0.15°C 95% CI [0.07–0.23] higher for participants whose health satisfaction was ‘extremely happy’ compared to ‘extremely unhappy’. Higher thermal variety is also associated with a lower risk of having morbidities related to excess winter deaths. We argue that significant CO2 savings would be made by increasing thermal variety and reducing domestic demand temperatures in the healthiest homes. However, great care is needed to avoid secondary health impacts due to mould and damp. Vulnerable households should receive increased attention.
Kennard, H.R., Huebner, G.M., Shipworth, D. & Oreszczyn, T. 2020. The associations between thermal variety and health: Implications for space heating energy use. PLoS ONE, 15(7): e0236116. doi: 10.1371/journal. pone.0236116Opens in a new tab
Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash