On 28th June 2021, Ellen Forsström writes in Finland's Swedish Hufvudstadsbladet about overheating in Finnish homes based on an interview with Sofie Pelsmakers.
Rough English translation below:
"Finnish houses can not withstand the heat - they are built to keep the heat inside
If you feel that your house or apartment is even warmer than it is outdoors, then you are not wrong. In Finland, people have always invested in building houses that keep the heat in and the cold out, but how does it work when you want to keep the heat out and the cold in instead ? With warmer summers, the shortcomings in the Finnish way of building houses are becoming increasingly clear. People are sweating in their compact city apartments and do not know how to cool them down. Sometimes solutions such as air conditioning or a fan can help with the stack, but it's basically about how buildings are planned.
A group of researchers at the University of Tampere is currently delving into precisely these issues. The researchers also want to find out how to avoid similar problems in the future and what solutions can be applied in older houses.
We in Finland build our houses to keep the heat in, this is a smart way from both an economic and ecological perspective. But as the climate is constantly getting warmer, new solutions must be found for us to cope with the summers, says Sofie Pelsmakers, who leads the research group ASUTUT.
Do not fan the solution of the future
If everyone is to get external equipment to cool down houses that are planned to keep the heat in, we will face two problems: an unreasonable price tag and climate concerns. Air conditioning costs a significant amount, which not everyone can afford. Should the less well-off then suffer more than others from the summer heat? Nature will also suffer if we start consuming the same amount of energy for cooling in the summers as for heating in the winters.
- We can not only turn to technical solutions, we must go to the root of the problem which is how the houses are built, says Pelsmakers
The research group led by Pelsmakers has come up with some long-term solutions that can both be applied in older buildings and come to mind when building new.
- Windows in Finnish houses are the big culprit. They are too small and cannot be opened enough. - Right now, only smaller apartments are being built, in them there are often problems with not being able to have cross-sections. This could be solved with the help of larger windows, says Pelsmakers. She also highlights the issue of shadow. More shade is needed.
- Blinds are the best solution, you should invest in sunscreen that is placed outside the windows. They keep out up to 80 percent of the heat.
- More vegetation next to buildings would also make the situation better, but planting a tree outside your window is not directly the fastest solution, she says.
- In urban planning, green areas should be given priority. Parks or green roofs are good solutions. Next to a park it is always cooler, because the vegetation does not absorb the heat.
Pelsmakers also point out that dark surfaces, such as asphalt or other stone surfaces that are plentiful in cities, absorb heat. Therefore, cities should take the model of the white houses around the Mediterranean and invest in more bright surfaces.
You can read a summary here in FIN, and more here (Heidi Sukanen's masters thesis research) and we are researching this issue in our HOMES4FUTURE project through monitoring and modelling homes and also as part of the Academy of Finland funded RESCUE project.