Scottish homes 'cut back' on ventilation despite risks of mould

A survey on behalf of Wise Property Care found that over 90% of 1,000 adults will keep windows closed this winter.

Scottish homes ‘cut back’ on ventilation despite risks of mould, according to Opinium Fevziie Ryman via iStock

Scots are risking mould and dampness in their homes as they cut back on vital ventilation, new research has revealed.

But experts have warned families the method could be counterproductive as a means of cutting energy costs.

Research undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Wise Property Care found that 92% of the more than 1,050 adults surveyed said they planned to keep their windows closed this winter – despite knowing the risks it poses to homes from condensation (73%) and mould (69%).

And more than two-thirds – or 67% – of Scottish households surveyed are already suffering from condensation, while 47% have reported mould or damp issues.

The survey, conducted in October, also revealed that Scottish homes appear to be at greater risk in comparison to the UK generally, where 81% of adults said they will be keeping their windows closed.

Ross Davidson, managing surveyor at Wise Property Care, said: “With the cost of living crisis hitting households across Scotland, it is understandable that people are exploring ways to reduce their heating bills this winter.

“However, many of these methods can be counterproductive. A dishwasher can be more efficient than running multiple sinks of hot water, and likewise ventilating a home can help reduce bills, as humid air is more expensive to heat.

“Cold, poorly ventilated homes are more likely to suffer from condensation and mould, so while it might seem counter-intuitive, it’s better to open the windows to refresh the air and protect the health of those living in the property.”

Condensation occurs in homes naturally when warm, moist air hits a cold surface and condenses, depositing moisture and most commonly appears on windows, walls and ceilings.

And if surface conditions are correct, mould spores develop and grow.

Mr Davidson said an average household with a family of four produces the equivalent of 14 litres, or 24 pints, of water each day, and if it has nowhere to escape, condensation will occur.

He added: “So keeping a house correctly heated and well ventilated is an important step in preventing condensation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines suggest indoor air quality in living areas is best between 18 and 20 degrees, between 50% and 60% relative humidity and with a minimum 10 litre per second ventilation rate.”

In response to the findings, the organisation has issued guidance to prevent mould and condensation in homes, including ventilation properties by opening windows briefly in the morning to ensure excess humidity can be removed.

And households should not stop heating or ventilating rooms completely, as unheated rooms can quickly become a haven for mould, experts have said.

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