Around 19% of EU households get uncomfortably warm during the summer and in some countries, the figure is close to 50%. It isn’t simply a matter of comfort, though – overheating in homes can be fatal. In the UK, there were 892 excess deaths resulting from summer heatwaves in 2019, with many occurring in houses and care homes.
In recent years, there have been long and intense heatwaves in cities throughout Europe. Extreme temperatures are likely to become more familiar as the climate warms, but the risk to life is particularly high during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many people facing an unusually long stretch indoors in summer 2020, knowing what determines the likelihood of overheating could save lives.
Drawing from thousands of household surveys across four European cities – Gdansk in Poland, Prague in the Czech Republic, Budapest in Hungary, and Skopje in North Macedonia – our recent research has uncovered why particular people and places are at greater risk of overheating than others.