On the minimal thermal habitability conditions in low income dwellings in Spain for a new definition of fuel poverty
Abstract Fuel poverty can be defined as “the inability to afford adequate warmth in the home”. The concept was firstly developed due to health risks related to cold among low income households. However, in the last few decades, especially since the summer heat wave of 2003 that caused 35,000 deaths across Europe, a lot of research has been conducted about the health risks related to high temperatures. Along with advances in knowledge related to the health risks associated with inadequate temperatures, several directives of the European Commission related to energy regulation urge Member States to develop their own fuel poverty definitions. This need of a methodological development for new definitions poses several questions. First, what should be the temperature thresholds for the overheated season? But, furthermore, are existing temperature baselines adequate for the Spanish context and climate? This paper presents a preliminary approach to define these new temperature thresholds for the Spanish context through the adaptive comfort model criteria. For that purpose, a statistically representative dwelling building typology of vulnerable household spaces was used to analyze indoor thermal temperatures and hence, to establish minimal energy requirements so as to achieve minimal habitability conditions. Highlights Minimal thermal habitability conditions for Spanish dwellings are set by using adaptive thermal comfort criteria. The energy required by fuel poor households is appraised and defined as adaptive demand. Overheating temperature baselines are being incorporated in the fuel poverty definition. The adaptive demand presents lower energy requirements than conventional calculations used for building energy rating.
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