Here’s an interesting fact – between 1980 and 2013, it was illegal in the UK to heat spaces to above 19C unless there was a specific reason. That’s something we never knew before! Residences were exempt, and typical reasons given that would justify more heating were that the space served people considered vulnerable. At the time that was defined as those who were ill, under the age of five – or over 60!
A maximum temperature was set at 20 C via the Fuel and Electricity (Heating) (Control) Order 1974, and it was revised downward to 19C by the Fuel and Electricity (Heating) (Control) (Amendment) Order 1980. The limits are, of course, in response to disruption in the UK’s energy supply. In 2013, the government ran a consultation as part of their “Red Tape Challenge” and found out that very few people were aware of the limit so they abolished it, noting that they had other energy policy levers available. They did remark that the one use anyone made of it was to quote to workers asking their employers to turn the heating up.
Perhaps like trousers with flares, this one will come around again. At the moment, there’s no legal maximum, but the Health and Safety Executive recommends a hard limit of 24C. Any higher is dangerous for people with heart conditions. The World Health Organisation and UK policy experts would like to see 18C become the norm for heating as that’s perfect for general health, but a big step down from what many Westerners are now used to. The most believable of the possible UK climate policy models requires average room temperature to be set to 16C. It goes without saying that if we stop heating spaces that don’t have people in them, that will help.
The highest temperature recorded by one of our monitors in a venue so far is 32C. It’s obvious that is from the influence of an external heating source. When the temperature spikes, the heating curve looks different from at other times because it rises faster than usual for a room with radiators. Our guess was sun because it correlates with the local weather record. However, the engineer with boots on the ground tells us that there is a thermostat in the room that users can fiddle with, and they have found it set to 30C and absolutely roasting. That means there might be two things to fix there. They’ll definitely want to think about how to limit the thermostat setting without alienating the users so much they bring in space heaters, but they might also find solar gain affects the room so badly they need some way to block the sun.