It’s never been more important to safeguard your health and the health of those you love. With climate change bringing about more extreme weather patterns and the threat of pandemic keeping more of us at home, health is a topic on everyone’s mind.
Everyone knows to wrap up when it’s too cold outside or to ensure you don’t suffer from heatstroke should the temperatures rise, but that’s outside and it’s something many of us are familiar with. But what about inside the home?
We don’t tend to think of our homes as a place that can directly affect our health, it’s a place to eat, to sleep, to relax in. It’s not a place that naturally springs to mind when we think of influences on our physical well being, however, there are many links between heating and health that can directly affect how you feel and can make it much more likely that you’ll become ill.
How can heating affect your health?
We all are aware of what happens with sudden, drastic temperature drops or rises, but a prolonged period of living in a home that’s not properly heated can also cause issues that will severely affect your health.
Here’s how that can look over an extended period of time:
Effects of a cold home
Having a home that’s too cold can cause condensation in your home, especially on the walls. This may not seem like an issue, but if it builds up and isn’t dealt with it will lead to damp, which in turn leads to mould.
Mould is one of the top causes for health issues caused by a home with improper heating systems. The combination of damp and mould can cause or exacerbate the following severe long-term health issues:
- Respiratory problems
- Respiratory infections
These particularly affect the young and the elderly, or those with existing conditions. If your home has mould present then it’s important that this is resolved, and part of preventing mould from returning is to ensure your house is well ventilated and heated appropriately.
Outside of issues related to damp and mould, cold homes can cause problems related to blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, as well as dampen your immune system’s response to respiratory disease.
As a general rule of thumb according to the Centre for Sustainable Energy, recommended minimum temperatures for your home are 18 degrees Celsius a night and 19-21 degrees Celsius during the day.
Effects of a hot home
Similar to a home that’s too cold, a home that’s regularly too warm can also cause issues with your health. With average temperatures rising globally and many homes in the UK being built for colder climates, reducing your home’s heat is becoming more of an issue with every passing year.
Prolonged exposure to a home that’s too hot can cause the following health conditions:
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat cramps
- Heat stroke
- Respiratory problems
These issues are more severe and affect the elderly and the very young more than other demographics. In addition, people with existing cardiovascular or respiratory issues may find these conditions exacerbated by living in a home that’s too hot.
As a recommendation, homes should generally be no warmer than 21 degrees Celsius during the day and around 18 degrees Celsius during the night. If temperatures in your home regularly reach 24-27 degrees Celsius then health issues will start to be a problem, especially for babies or elderly members of your family. Any higher than 27 degrees Celsius for prolonged periods of time and the risk of severe illness exponentially increases. You can read more about the effects of prolonged heat in your home via The Express.
Heating your home healthily
There are three primary methods by which your home can be heated and cooled in a healthy manner. These are Heating, Insulation, and Ventilation.
A proper, healthy heating system for your home can make all the difference when looking to safeguard your health. Ensuring that your home is heated correctly can have the following benefits for your health and the health of your family:
- Dries out moisture meaning less chance of damp
- Less chance of respiratory illness
- Keeps vulnerable people safe
- Makes the home comfortable to live in
These all add up to a warm home that stays the correct temperature during changing weather patterns, winter, or night-time.
Of course, it isn’t enough to heat up your home. Keeping the heat in is an important part of ensuring a healthy home. Proper insulation ensures the following benefits:
- Keeps rooms warm after active heating is turned off
- Ensures warmth is retained during cold months
- Helps keep inhabitants healthy via a higher average temperature
- Reduces condensation on walls, minimising mould
All these benefits mean that insulating your home is a vital step in providing a healthy atmosphere for you and your loved ones.
The final part of a healthy heating system is to make sure your home is well ventilated.
Factors that determine a well ventilated home are:
- Minimal to no condensation issues
- No signs of mould or mildew
- Low moisture level readings
- Strong indoor air quality
Fresh, clean air is a vital ingredient in good health. The benefits of a well ventilated home are:
- Improves air quality
- Reduces condensation on windows and walls
- Helps reduce moisture build-up
- Stops rooms feeling ‘stuffy’ and stagnant
- Imparts a fresh and clean atmosphere in your home
Overall, ventilation is often overlooked, but can be easy to remedy by keeping windows open when possible to allow a full flow of air through your home.
By paying attention to heating, insulation, and ventilation, you can ensure that your home is well heated in colder periods, cool during hotter weather, and well ventilated for a comforting atmosphere free of health risks.
Healthy heating system examples
There are many options available when looking at providing heating in a healthy home and choosing the right one can be a difficult process when there’s so much to investigate. That’s why we’ve compiled some examples you can use to see what a healthy heating system might look like.
Underfloor heating, or UFH for short, can be an attractive modern solution for a healthy home. No direct heat is imparted to the inhabitants meaning it’s as safe for new-born babies as it is for adults, heating the floors to a constant low temperature which raises the temperature of the room itself, and can be easily adjusted room-by-room with thermostats.
Underfloor heating can be run from a gas boiler, and will be around 25% more efficient than an equivalent radiator system.
By supplementing a UFH system with an environmentally friendly means of generating heat such as a heat pump, efficiency increases to 40% more than typical central heating, with ongoing costs kept comparatively low – along with your impact on the environment.
For many properties, especially in the UK, central heating is the standard solution for heat production. Many properties will have an existing boiler which heats water, passing that through to radiators positioned throughout the house.
A boiler-heated central heated system can provide reliable heat for your home, with the ability to adjust heat levels via thermostats. Central heating boilers are a fairly efficient way of heating your home, and it is usually easy to find a plumber able to install one. In addition, whilst a heat pump system is more suited to the type of low temperature heat used by UFH systems, it is possible to combine either a ground source heat pump or air source heat pump with a central heating system, however this would mean oversizing the radiators to suit the low flow temperatures used.
Gas-Fired Space Heater
In some homes a gas-fired space heater can be a solution for providing immediate, direct heat to a room or space. These heaters tend to be free-standing, wall-mounted units that provide direct heat to a single room.
Whilst these are common in some areas, recent innovations in heating technology have seen gas-fired space heaters become a little less commonly seen. They can easily provide healthy heat in an area but due to their combustion process which requires oxygen, it is important to keep the room they’re installed in well ventilated. In addition, they are only suitable for heating a single room, meaning multiple heaters may be required in order to heat a whole house.
With those caveats aside, a gas-fired space heater can be a reliable means of heating a room through direct heating, giving a quick and easy way to heat up a room in cold weather.
For more information regarding healthy heating systems and how you can safeguard your family’s health, get in touch today, we’d be more than happy to talk to you about what we can do to help.