This is an interesting one. A huge number of low or no income tenants cannot afford adequate heating and try to retain what heat they have by not ventilating. Members of this forum will know the consequences of such action but what other option do they have? I can see that if heating is included (which was once moderately common) and the ventilation was well controlled, some portion of blame could be ascribed to the tenant, as they would not incur financial losses by following proper procedures.
When the owners of Thamesmead Estate stopped providing “free” heating and put gas boilers in their flats the health standards dropped, nay plummeted, very quickly. The flats became a haven for black mould as tenants stopped ventilating. Years of health issues and suffering later it was only thanks to an expert team lead by Dr. Peter Rickerby that drastic changes were made to the heating and ventilation systems, leading to Thamesmead becoming a model of healthy accommodation.
The flats now contain MVHR, which the tenants have no access to, even with wire cutters, thereby ensuring adequate ventilation at all times.
As I read this , I am mindful of our need to insulate homes and the new grants being provided for insulation.
Yet while the problems of ventilation and the causes of damp and mould are seemingly recognised, it concerns me that as we push to insulate there doesn’t seem to be push alongside it to ventilate.
Most of us here understand that as we add insulation to our homes we need to pay equal attention to ventilation.
Ventilation isn’t being provided for on the grant schemes that I can see.
It is normal for those acting to obtain grants to only undertake the absolute minimum to qualify for the grant. This tells us that insulation, airtightness and ventilation should all be addressed in one grant.
Advocates need to point out the policy shortfalls; but equally we need to adapt and educate those making the changes to housing environments. There are simple devices that provide adequate information on the environments occupied and these should be more widely deployed to provide evidence for action and assurance for safety.
I emailed my local councillor today to share the shortfalls of the Green Grant Scheme.
How ventilation and existing damp issues are preventing us from insulating, despite qualifying for the grant.
Also how we were marked up in energy efficiency on our EPC assessment for having double glazing - despite the fact that it is 30 plus years old with water pooling in the units, failed seals and buckled openers which don’t close properly and where draughts whisk through in the winter.
I can understand, but not agree, that the EPC is used as a quick property assessment for government and local government grants. It is supposed to give an assessment of a building’s energy status and until the government recognises its shortcomings it is natural to use it.
I often think politicians - led by budgets and funding pots - don’t see the bigger picture and consider the public with a ‘what do they know’ attitude.
Politics in the UK feels very much ‘them and us’.
It would be so refreshing and appreciated if the government would pull together and listen to the people to bring about the changes we need to address our needs - not our wants - our needs.
On a practical point, if the Thamesmead solution (MVHR in all properties) is not immediately feasible on cost grounds for all landlords, the simple, passive ventilation system we installed as a stopgap measure in our house some years ago is apparently chiefly used for social housing, since no maintenance by the householder is required. The one we used was a Passivent one, with humidity-sensitive extracts which open wider when the humidity is high. Passive ventilation is trashed by those who sell the much more expensive MVHR, and make a much higher margin on that, but it sounds as if it might have a place in the interim, as a low-cost retrofit measure, in properties for which it is suitable (such as ours). Mind you, if the householder really wanted, and was ignorant of its importance, he or she could simply tape over the ceiling extract, I suppose.
I am aware of Passivent and if it were not for the importance of balancing the airflows in MVHR I would have liked the humidity sensitive vents on my system. I don’t believe new passive ventilation systems are legal under the latest building regs.
Ignorant or unconcerned. Someone who believes that they are a short term tenant might not be bothered by the consequences. Having let my house out while overseas on business I have seen quite enough results of “unconcerned actions” the worst of which was not reporting work that needed doing, resulting in much worse conditions for them and higher costs for me.
Thanks Tim, that is interesting. There was a long section on them under the previous regs, which has totally disappeared in the current ones. But I hadn’t realised that they would effectively be outlawed as a result. No wonder Glidevale who sell Passivent aren’t too bothered about replying to the occasional enquiry of mine about research papers to which they used to refer on their website. Anyway, presumably for retrofit they are still acceptable; only for new-build they would perhaps be outlawed? Ours certainly clears our bathroom after a shower pretty quickly, and is an improvement on the papered-over airbrick which we inherited with the house. And I have vague hopes of it acting in reverse as a source of air for our occasional (improved) open wood-burning fire (otherwise stuffed up with a chimney sheep when not in use) per my father’s never-commercialised re-design of the British standard open fire for more efficient wood-burning and avoidance of smoking. (Intellectual Property Office - Patent document and information service (Ipsum) As we are in a sparsely populated rural area here, I feel the occasional open fire burning fallen or tree-surgery wood is probably justifiable.)