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1.3 PHYSICAL SCIENCES
This research was conducted in twenty nine Dublin City Council senior citizen sheltered housing dwellings. Temperature (°C) and relative humidity (% RH) was recorded inside all dwellings using data loggers over two separate monitoring periods of four months between December and March of 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Energy usage including gas and electricity was also recorded for each dwelling during both monitoring periods. Outside ambient temperature data for both periods was acquired from Met Eireann. A dwelling occupant questionnaire was completed to obtain relevant technical, social and behavioural data, and to establish the prevalence of fuel poverty amongst the sample. The Building Energy Rating and information on age, design and heating systems was obtained for each dwelling.
The average daily inside temperature for all dwellings was 19.3°C during monitoring period 1 and 18.5°C during monitoring period 2. In 70% of the dwellings during both monitoring periods the average daily temperature was below 20°C, which is the lower limit recommended by the World Health Organisation for thermal comfort. The average daily outside temperature was 6.6°C during period 1 and 4.4°C during period 2. Households consumed on average 20% more gas during period 2 when compared with period 1. This was an additional household spend of €62 on energy during period 2. However, despite this additional energy usage the sample dwellings maintained lower average temperatures during period 2. There were 32% and 21% of dwellings during periods 1 and 2 respectively which had average daily relative humidity levels above the ASHRAE recommended higher bound threshold for thermal comfort of 60%RH. The households who experienced the highest average daily relative humidity also experienced the lowest average daily temperatures. The subjective method of measuring fuel poverty using the EU-SILC indicators revealed that 17.9% and 25% of households during periods 1 and 2 respectively were experiencing fuel poverty. Fuel poor households (those declaring an inability to adequately heat their home) maintained lower average daily temperatures than other households. It is recommended that best practice in the design of housing for vulnerable groups including older people should incorporate smart home technologies i.e. integrated monitoring systems for security and health including temperature sensors for detection of extreme temperatures in the home. It is recommended that funding to Local Authorities for improving the thermal efficiency of their housing stock should continue and senior citizen complexes should be prioritised. It is also recommended that an additional fuel allowance payment is needed during particularly cold winters in order to prevent people falling into the fuel poverty trap. It is recommended that a survey similar to the Northern Ireland House Condition Survey and to include temperature monitoring, be conducted in the Republic of Ireland to provide a current picture of the housing stock in order to inform policy from both a health and environmental perspective.
Monahan, E. (2014) Thermal Comfort, Energy Usage and Fuel Poverty in a Sample of Older Person’s Households in Dublin, Masters Thesis, Technological University Dublin, 2014.