Property Care Association Property Care Association

10 Nov 2022 < Back

The consequences of fuel cost anxiety

On opening the curtains in my bedroom last Wednesday morning, my partner in a somewhat horrified voice declared… “why do WE have a condensation problem?”. She then went on to ask why I hadn’t done anything about it and suggested that I had somehow been “negligent” in allowing this to happen. 

A little bit of water on the inside of the plastic window was soon mopped up and panic subsided. A little later in the day, I had a call from a very good friend who also knows a thing or two about damp. He told me a story about his wife insisting that their ventilation system must be broken because for the first time in years, she had seen condensation on the windows.

The fact is that both cases have come about as a direct result of “fuel cost anxiety”. The main effect of this is that the heating is no longer on a thermostat or a timer and is being used only when it’s absolutely necessary! No more is the heating coming on half an hour before the morning alarm goes off and we are lucky to get an hour in the evening before the kids get ready for bed.  

What exactly is happening?

If buildings with relatively low occupancy rates, adequate ventilation, reasonable thermal performance, are occupied by people who know about damp and are not destitute are seeing significant condensation when the outside temperature is still 6C...then what is happening elsewhere?  

It is still warm for the time of year, but I understand the sale of ‘oodies’ and ‘slankets’ have rocketed. A straw poll of my colleagues suggests that our heating cost anxiety is far from unique. Despite most of my co-workers being well in front with their utility bills thanks to the governments' generosity, the frugal use of the heating and relatively mild autumn seems to be making excess moisture within the home an issue for some of them already.

Did we underestimate the problem in January?

The PCA published an article in January last year flagging the moisture risk associated with high fuel costs and predicting problems. It seems that after a cold night in November, we may have underestimated the scale and impact of this winter on the condition of our homes. 

Watching Strictly wrapped in a blanket and an investment in a new set of fleecy PJs may well be a valid response to rising fuel costs, but it comes with consequences. Reducing the energy that we use to stay warm also helps to negate the potential negative effects of the atmospheric moisture we push into the air. Arriving at a healthy moisture balance in homes is dependent on the production of vapour, ventilation, thermal performance of the building envelope and heat. If heat is removed from this equation, then imbalance is almost inevitable. Even the best ventilated building/homes with good insulation can be at risk of mould if it remains cold and unheated! 

The health of the nation will suffer as will the condition of our indoor environments as the winter draws on and, unfortunately, we believe it inevitable that we may be starting to see the first evidence of what will be a very mouldy Christmas for many people. 



There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Interested in getting the latest news

Sign up

PCA Member - Do YOU have a story?

Get in contact

Content Copyright © 2023 Property Care Association - All rights reserved. The Property Care Association is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England: No. 5596488

“PCA®” and the PCA logo are registered trademarks of the Property Care Association. Legal Information and Disclaimer.