Homes heat up too much, ‘even now it’s nicer outside’

Berlinda van Dam

NOS News

Homes must not only be able to be properly heated, they must also remain cool when it warms up outside. And there is too little attention for this in our country of doorzon homes, experts say in the week that the National Heat Plan is in force. Very high temperatures will become more common and houses in which the heat lingers pose a health hazard.

Willy and Klaas live in such a warm house, on IJburg in Amsterdam. The temperature inside can rise to well above thirty degrees. It leads to headaches and other physical complaints.

Even on days like this it is often more pleasant outside than inside, say Willy and Klaas:

Heat in the house: ‘It’s 29 degrees here now and maybe 38 degrees tomorrow’

Jeroen Kluck, lecturer at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, conducts research into heat in homes. For this research, sensors are placed in housing associations throughout the Netherlands. “We are going to measure in a hundred houses and talk to residents. In this way we find out what makes a home warm and what helps.”

Hotter more often and longer

Homes should not only be pleasant in winter, but also in summer, says Kluck. “After all, it will happen more often and longer that it is very hot.”

Cause strongly warmed houses, he says. “If it’s extremely hot outside, you want to flee inside. Then it shouldn’t be too hot there either. The biggest acute health problems due to heat play inside homes.”

Madeleen Helmer agrees. She is from the Climate Association of the Netherlands, which has formed a ‘heat group’ with twenty housing associations. “When it comes to heat stress, your home is a real hotspot.”

The Woonbond, which represents the interests of tenants, has also been increasingly concerned with the subject of ‘heated homes’ in recent years, says Marcel Trip. “With more hot summers, it’s good to pay attention to this.”

Social rent

Social rental homes in particular suffer from excessively high indoor temperatures. And if they are also in neighborhoods with too little greenery, there is even less chance of escaping the heat.

There are approximately 800 heat deaths per year. A third of this is attributable to climate change, according to the RIVM. That’s about 250 people. The elderly are especially at risk.

But young people also suffer from homes that are too warm, says Helmer of Climate Association Netherlands: “It makes you drowsy and you are no longer as productive. Because of poor sleep you function less at work.”

You can turn your home into a pleasant place with sun protection and ventilation.

Jeroen Kluck, researcher Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Dutch homes are not built to keep out the sun, Helmer notes. “We don’t have sunny homes for nothing: we like the sun in our cold little country. But the climate is changing and so all those large windows become a problem.”

Researcher Kluck: “The requirement for new-build houses is that the indoor temperature should not exceed 27 degrees too often, but many existing homes do not meet that standard”.

And better insulation makes homes even hotter. Good insulation will keep the heat out for longer, but eventually it will get warmer inside and then you won’t be able to get the heat off. Kluck: “And the next day it will be warm again and the house will be a bit hotter again”.

Air conditioning everywhere

Solutions are obvious, but they are not always easy to apply. Researcher Kluck: “Using sun protection and ventilation is great to make your house a pleasant place. That seems simple, but what if you don’t have both? If you only have windows on one side, you can’t ventilate properly.”

Sun protection is the most important measure, says Kluck. “The best way to keep up with the cooling requirement is to prevent it. By ensuring that the sun does not come in and that it does not get too hot inside.” But all warm homes equipped with sun blinds cost housing associations and landlords a lot of money.

How do they serve that in countries in southern Europe, where they are used to those hot summers? “Air conditioning everywhere,” says Helmer. She fears that it may also be heading in that direction in the Netherlands, with all the adverse environmental effects that this entails.

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