The record temperatures we are seeing during UK summers have been triggered by climate change. In 2022 temperatures soared to a scorching 40+°C for the first time, leading the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to issue its first ever Level 4 health-alert. As temperature trends continue to rise, heatwaves are predicted to become more frequent and severe. In this blog we take a look at the impact heatwaves will have on the country and discuss how energy and water suppliers can help everyone be better prepared to cope with higher temperatures when they hit.

In a new report, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has warned the Government over its lack of preparedness for heat waves. It says there is a “clear cut” economic and social care case for accelerating heat adaption measures across Britain.  

The report explains how people’s physical and mental health can be severely impacted by high temperatures. In 2022 UK heat-related deaths are believed to have exceeded 4,500, and the EAC predicts that heatwaves could claim up to 10,000 lives annually across the country. Apparently suicide risk is twice as high in the UK when the temperature was 32°C rather than 22°C.1 Work related injuries also increase during a heatwave, and interrupted sleep patterns due to the high temperatures can cost the UK economy £60 billion a year. 

The EAC is calling for the government to take swift action and implement a range of measures. In England alone, over 4.6 million homes overheat in the summertime. The UK’s housing stock is not designed to cope with excessive heat, and the bad news is, 80% of homes that will exist in 2050 have already been built. That’s why the EAC is recommending retrofitting a thermal comfort programme focused on insulation, ventilation and passive cooling measures. It’s calling for existing initiatives on insulation and energy efficiency to be developed into a national retrofit programme to be supported by long-term funding and delivered by local authorities. 

In its report the Committee also repeated demands it made in its 2018 Heatwaves report, calling for:

  1. The Government to launch a public information campaign on the developing threat of heatwaves and their significant impact on human health and activities.
  2. The Met Office to trial naming heatwaves in order to boost public recognition of the threat to health and wellbeing in the same way as named storms.
  3. Incorporate humidity levels into weather forecasts and heat-health alerts as humidity is an important factor on how the body experience and reacts to heat. 

The role energy and water companies can play 

The entire UK population is served by our energy and water companies. That means our suppliers have direct communication links with every business and household across the nation. They also have a responsibility to encourage their customers to reduce their energy and water consumption in order to help protect and preserve our water supplies and to help reach our net zero goals. This is combined with a responsibility towards their customers to help them deal and cope with extreme weather events, like heatwaves, that impact both water and energy supply and consumption. 

How we can help

By utilising energy and water supplier consumption data, combined with data relating to the household, whether that’s data provided by the customer or third party data, we can help energy and water companies to understand an individual customer or household’s behaviour during a heat wave. Through our behavioural science and data based customer engagement programmes we can then target each household with personalised messages designed to help them. That could include messages reminding them that there’s a hose pipe ban; advice on ways that they can reduce their water consumption, or ways to keep their house cool – such as improving their insulation, installing ceiling fans and blinds, keeping windows and curtains closed etc.

In our blog, ‘Helping the UK to save water in a time of severe water shortage’ we explain how our behavioural science based customer engagement programmes are proven to help customers reduce their water usage and the four ways we encourage that behavioural change. 

When it comes to asking customers to make lifestyle changes in order to reduce their water and energy consumption, not just for the good of the planet, but for the good of their own health, there’s no time to lose. You need to start engaging with your customers now, to capture their attention and earn their trust. That’s not something that can be achieved overnight. 

With swift action being called for, then with its lower cost to serve, our SaaS customer engagement solution is proven to be both faster and cheaper to run than traditional solutions and the alternative option of building your own solution in-house.  You can read more about this in our Build Versus Buy blog. 

Our widgets have delivered proven water and energy savings with water and energy companies around the globe. Check out our case study describing our work with Anglian Water where we reduced water consumption by 18,500 litres per household, per day. 

We all know behaviour change is hard, but our solutions have been designed with expertise from world’s leading behavioural scientists so you can trust us to deliver a dynamic and personalised customer experience. What are you waiting for? Talk to us today! 

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