Health Effects of Energy Efficiency and Ambient Temperature

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The HEEEAT project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is conducted by the ELSA research team together with the UCL Energy Institute. HEEEAT explores the long-term impacts of indoor temperature on health, and the impacts of energy efficient home improvements and eligibility for fuel payments on indoor temperature, heating expenditure, and health. Our two-year study will examine the effects of these housing energy policies on changing energy use, indoor temperatures, and older people’s health.

 

This project aims to answer the following research questions:

  1. What types of interventions (energy efficiency improvements and/or financial support) are most effective at improving indoor temperatures? Do they benefit low-income households enough?

  2. Do people respond to these interventions by increasing the indoor temperature or by spending less on heating (releasing funds for food or other needs)? Does people’s age or how poor/wealthy they are affect that?

  3. Are improved indoor temperatures associated with longer lives or fewer hospital admissions?

  4. Have policies reduced inequalities in health between poorer and richer families, or older people of different ages?

 

We will also use our study to look at the recommended indoor temperatures for health for the general population and for people at greater risk of poor health.

 

We will use data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) in two ways. Indoor temperature was measured by a trained nurse, using a consistent protocol and equipment, at each nurse visit when an ELSA participant’s blood pressure was measured (at four-yearly intervals, in waves 2, 4, 6, 8 and 9). The first combined dataset will match ELSA data (including indoor temperature) with the outdoor temperature (Met Office data). This will also be matched with information from the National Energy Efficiency Database (NEED), held by the government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This database contains information on what energy efficiency improvements have been undertaken in participants’ homes and how much gas and electricity they have used. Our study will analyse the effects of the different home energy measures by looking at people’s spending on heating their home and the actual indoor temperature. Secondly, we will use ELSA data linked to hospital and mortality records. We will look at the effects of indoor temperature on later health. We will examine people at different ages or at higher risk of disease.

 

To find out more about this project and the topic of indoor temperature and health, you can:

 
 
 
 

Study team

Principal Investigator: Dr Cesar de Oliveira (University College London, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care)

Co-Investigators: Professor Andrew Steptoe (University College London, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care), Professor Jenny Mindell (University College London, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care), Associate Professor Ian Hamilton (University College London, Energy Institute), Dr Shaun Scholes (University College London, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care)

Researchers: Dr Alison Moody (University College London, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care) and Shih-Che Hsu (University College London, Energy Institute)

Contact: Dr Cesar de Oliveira c.oliveira@ucl.ac.uk