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Indoor Built Environ. 2013 Apr;22(2):360-375.

Historic Variations in Winter Indoor Domestic Temperatures and Potential Implications for Body Weight Gain.

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UCL Energy Institute, University College London, London, UK.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.
The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, London, UK.


It has been argued that the amount of time spent by humans in thermoneutral environments has increased in recent decades. This paper examines evidence of historic changes in winter domestic temperatures in industrialised countries. Future trajectories for indoor thermal comfort are also explored. Whilst methodological differences across studies make it difficult to compare data and accurately estimate the absolute size of historic changes in indoor domestic temperatures, data analysis does suggest an upward trend, particularly in bedrooms. The variations in indoor winter residential temperatures might have been further exacerbated in some countries by a temporary drop in demand temperatures due to the 1970s energy crisis, as well as by recent changes in the building stock. In the United Kingdom, for example, spot measurement data indicate that an increase of up to 1.3°C per decade in mean dwelling winter indoor temperatures may have occurred from 1978 to 1996. The findings of this review paper are also discussed in the context of their significance for human health and well-being. In particular, historic indoor domestic temperature trends are discussed in conjunction with evidence on the links between low ambient temperatures, body energy expenditure and weight gain.


Central heating; Housing; Indoor temperature; Obesity; Thermal comfort; Weight gain

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