Cold Housing in Central Mexico: Environmental Dissatisfaction and Underheating Lowers Self-Perceived Health in Central Mexico

Carlos Zepeda-Gil, Augusto Jacobo Montiel-Castro

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Despite being perceived as a warm country, winters in the Central Mexican Plateau frequently reach temperatures below zero Celsius. Prolonged exposures to low temperatures resulting in heart and respiratory morbidities are estimated to be responsible for 50% of the reported illness in the plateau, attributable primarily to the design of homes ill-suited to extreme temperatures. Consequently, there is a growing need to ensure that dwellings provide adequate indoor thermal conditions in the region. Hence, on-site sensors were used to collect temperature and relative humidity data every five minutes in 26 living rooms in the Plateau for 11 months. From these data, a subsample was determined, resulting in dwelling-level thermal comfort and health surveys on 15 homes. Computer simulations were used to investigate whether the building itself could provide thermal comfort under different retrofitting scenarios. Multiple linear regression relating the Predicted Percentage Dissatisfaction (PPD) index to self-perceived health was undertaken. Both monitored and simulated results were matched against our underheating model, finding that 92% of the homes had cold indoor environments, some even during summer. High PPD and intense levels of underheating were positive predictors of higher self-reported health problems. More self-reported health problems were correlated with both lower life satisfaction and self-worth, and with subjects’ use of more adaptive strategies against environmental dissatisfaction. Dynamic computer simulations suggested that indoor thermal environments could be improved by enforcing the non-utilised standard NOM-ENER-020, which recommends the addition of insulation on walls and roofs. These findings suggest that the cold environments within homes of the plateau influence the self-perceived physical and mental health of its population. Hence, the application of adequate measures, such as retrofitting homes with stronger standards than the existing NOM-ENER-020 are needed in place.

Idioma originalEnglish
Número de artículo814
EstadoPublished - mar 2023

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