With the coldest winter in 65 years forecast to hit the UK later this year, founders of Home Quality Mark (HQM) – a 5-star quality rating scheme for new-build homes created by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) – warns households could face increased health issues and a steep incline in household bills, if their homes are not insulated correctly.
As the El Nino weather phenomenon approaches, temperatures could drop as low as -8.1F (-22.3C), mirroring those of the 2009/10 “Big Freeze”. Last winter the cold weather death toll reached at least 40,000 people – the highest it’s been in 15 years – highlighting that more needs to be done to ensure adequately-insulated, weather-proofed and energy efficient homes are available to consumers.
In encouraging cutting-edge design, enhanced insulation and high-calibre ventilation, HQM-rated homes will give buyers and renters of new homes the chance to enjoy a better quality of life and energy efficient home throughout the year. HQM is therefore urging consumers to take health, wellbeing, and energy factors into consideration when selecting new homes.
Compared to countries such as Sweden, which experiences considerably colder winters, the UK still has 40% more hospital admissions per every 100,000 people each year due to respiratory illnesses. Such illnesses are often the result of household damp, condensation and poor airflow, all of which can be avoided when living in well-designed new properties.
Launched earlier this year, HQM addresses a gap in the market and a public desire for a consumer-focused housing standard that is authoritative, clearly understandable and which communicates the immediate and tangible benefits of high-quality housing. According to a recent survey, over 65% of people said if they were buying or renting a property, sustainability features would be important. In fact, one in five are prepared to pay a higher price for a property with a sustainability stamp of approval.
Gwyn Roberts, BRE New Homes and Communities Team Leader states: ‘‘The freezing cold and snowy winter that is forecast could affect millions. Our changing climate means winters are deeper but that temperatures can also soar in the summer, and this only stresses the importance of high-quality housing that not only promotes a better living and wellbeing standard, but that is also future-proofed and weather resilient.”
Indicative of the high levels of industry support for HQM, other leading house builders HAB, CALA Homes, Lend Lease, Kier, Pocket Living, Weinerberger and ÜserHuus, are also contributing to study sites across the UK, in locations including London, Oxford, Royston, Sunderland, Watford, Winchester and Witney.