Roddy Urquhart and Margaret Vandecasteele say the poor design of Britain’s housing stock leaves it unable to cope with extreme temperatures. Plus Peter Afford, John Phillips, Rose Harvie and David Harper on keeping cool and fighting the climate crisis
The heatwave this week has exposed the pitiful state of our housing stock and a decades-long lack of a strategy to deal with it. With few exceptions, British housing is poorly designed to deal with extremes of heat and cold, as well as energy efficiency. Indeed, politicians wanting a “bonfire” of regulations have responsibility for poor housing standards.
Promises of government help to install insulation as well as other green measures appear to have evaporated under recent Conservative administrations. Our building industry seems to work at higher costs and lower technical standards than those of our European neighbours.
Having lived in the UK, California and Germany, it is striking how adrift we are in Britain from dealing with energy efficiency and comfort. In Germany, external insulation ensures that in winter heat stays within the walls while in summer it stays outside. Inward opening windows (standard in Germany and France) ensure that you can have outside roller shutters to keep heat outside the home in summer and protect against the cold in winter. We need wholesale reform of our housebuilding standards. Roddy Urquhart Fortrose, Highland
Living in a stone house built in 1890, it is always cool in summer whatever the record-breaking temperature outside. It is cold in winter, but retains heat. A totally insulated extension built this century is boiling in summer and freezing in the winter. Margaret Vandecasteele Wick, Caithness
A simpler cooling method than blowing air over wet material (Letters, 18 July) is to place a box fan in a window and blow air out of the house. This draws air in through other open windows, so you get a breeze and the benefit of cooler air from shade outdoors. New buildings could easily include an extractor fan to ventilate them this way. Peter Afford London
I have been a science teacher for many years. In the 1980s, our curriculum instructed us to teach about the threat of global heating. Some 27 years later, it seems that the message was unheeded, certainly by those with investments in fossil fuels. If you want to do something, consider these simple steps: stop eating meat, install solar panels, use public transport, write to your MP, support Greenpeace and/or Extinction Rebellion, and tell everyone you know what actions you are taking. Inform yourself about environmental issues and pass on articles that alert everyone to the dangerous situation we are in. John Phillips Waterlooville, Hampshire
In this household, we don’t drive, we don’t fly, we recycle as much as possible, we garden organically, we protest, we vote Green. My placard says: “If we don’t act now, our grandchildren will look back in 30 years’ time and say ‘granny knew what to do but she didn’t do it’.” Rose Harvie Dumbarton
Your article (Why do Britain’s roads melt and its rails buckle in heat?, 19 July) reminded me of the British Steel advertisement that took up a whole wall of the main concourse of London Euston station in the 1980s. It proudly proclaimed that the company made the heat-hardened steel rails for the Indian railways. I wonder if it still has the recipe? David Harper Cambridge
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