Historic Scotland Technical Paper 14 challenges the perception that houses must be heated to modern standards, and explores achieving comfort in an older house using background low-temperature heating and local supplementary heaters to create warmth as required.
Living in a cool house – that is, a house cooler than generally expected today – might sound unacceptable, but was commonplace until relatively recently and is comfortable if human behaviour is adjusted accordingly. The report proposes that the interior be maintained at a background temperature of 16°C and appropriate local supplementary heat-sources be provided, when and where desired, usually in the form of a radiant heater.
It is demonstrated that with this heating strategy it is possible to provide comfortable conditions while significantly lowering energy costs and related CO2 emissions. Creating thermal comfort with background heating and local supplementary warmth should more often be considered as a heating strategy, instead of relying only on technical upgrades of the building fabric and services; indeed, it can easily complement such upgrades and achieve even better savings.