Health impacts of Energy Efficiency & Temperature (HEAT)

Health impacts of Energy Efficiency & Temperature (HEAT)
28th November 2016 Alison Parker

Domestic buildings



HEAT will examine the relationships between energy use, energy efficiency and indoor temperatures and their relationships with health


The UK has more excess winter deaths and more ill health in winter than colder European countries. Cold kills 18-30,000 people each year in the UK. More than one million UK households are considered to be in fuel poverty. This affects most commonly people who are poor, older, and/or already have poor health.

The UK housing stock will need major changes by 2030 to improve its energy performance. These changes will not only reduce energy use but will probably also affect the temperature and air quality inside homes.

These policies raise a key question: what effects have the interventions had apart from energy use?

  • Have they changed people’s exposure to low wintertime indoor temperatures?
  • Have there been improvements to health?

Study aims:

The overall aim of the project is to determine the impact of housing energy policy interventions (physical and financial) on energy use and fuel expenditure, indoor wintertime temperature, and on the health of household occupants.

In support this aim, the study objectives are:

  1. To assess the impact of a range of energy efficiency retrofits and eligibility for fuel payments and rebates, separately and in combination, on energy use and fuel expenditure;
  2. To assess the impact of a range of energy efficiency retrofits and eligibility for fuel payments and rebates, separately and in combination, on indoor temperature;
  3. To assess the associations between indoor temperature on health outcomes, accounting for relevant factors for the population overall and in the specified subgroups for:
    1. Mortality: all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD), ischaemic heart disease (IHD), stroke and respiratory disease
    2. Hospital admission: any, CVD, IHD, stroke and respiratory disease
  4. To assess the associations between energy efficiency measures and eligibility for financial payments, separately and in combination, on health outcomes, accounting relevant factors for:
    1. Mortality: all-cause, CVD, IHD, stroke and respiratory
    2. Hospital admission: any, any emergency admission, CVD, respiratory
  5. To provide evidence-based health-based recommendations for indoor temperature for specific population subgroups (e.g. people who are older or in poor health)

This research examines the effects these housing energy policy interventions have on fuel use and expenditure, indoor wintertime temperatures and health. The initial phase of the project will focus on linking data from general population health studies with information on the energy performance (both efficiency and energy consumption) of their homes. We will also link data on the outside temperature on the day the indoor temperature was measured in the health study.


The study will address the questions of what impact the UK’s housing energy policy interventions have on fuel use and expenditure, indoor wintertime temperatures and on health.

The project will use two studies of the general population: 1) the Health Survey for England (HSE) and 2) the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

We will also use other relevant information. We will compare the outside temperature from the MetOffice with the indoor temperature recorded by the nurse in the studies. We will add in what energy efficiency measures people’s homes have, using the National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (NEED). Energy efficiency measures include a new (more efficient) boiler, double glazing, and loft insulation. We will also include ,the gas and electricity use (from the NEED database), to find out if these measures mean people can keep their homes warm more easily.

The study will analyse the effects of physical and financial home energy policy interventions by looking at fuel expenditure, temperature in people’s homes and their effects on health. In addition, the study will see if these policies are particularly helpful for  people in different age-groups or at higher risk of disease.

Key outputs

  • Results of the study will help national and local governments decide which policies and measures work best to reduce energy use and costs and living in cold homes. It will also show what impact these policies have on health.

Current Activities

December 2017 – January 2018 – User Focus Groups

  • A set of three deliberative discussion groups were carried out between November 2017 and January 2018 on public attitudes to data linkage. These were undertaken by NatCen Social Research, commissioned by UCL (University College London). The overall objective was to explore people’s understanding and perceptions of data linkage, particularly linkage between health examination survey data and administrative records. The group participants had all previously taken part in the 2016 Health Survey for England (HSE). They included some people who had and some who had not provided consent for data linkage at the time of their HSE interview. The findings will help researchers understand what members of the public think about linking data for research. It will also help NatCen to develop better ways to explain data linkage to future survey participants.

February 2018 – Data Processing Notice

  • UCL has gain approval from the NatCen Data Release Panel to process data linking between the English Longitudinal Survey of Aging data, MetOffice temperature data, and the National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (NEED) dataset. The data linkage will be done by NatCen Social Research, in a secure way that meets all good practice and legal requirements, on a computer with no access to the internet. As soon as the data have been linked, all identifiable data will be removed. Anonymous data will be transferred securely to UCL’s School of Life and Medical Sciences’ Data Safe Haven. It can be accessed only by named researchers under strict data protection safeguards.

Impact, Influence & Outreach

  • The project aims to develop an evidence base on the relationship between health, temperature, energy use and energy efficiency. This will help target policies better to achieve multiple benefits and to reduce inequalities.