Using real-time indoor heat sensors to enhance social insulation

David Hondula, ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Background

Maricopa County's hot summers are especially challenging for residents who struggle to keep their homes cool, some of whom experience heat-related illness because of indoor heat. This problem is growing worse as the number of deaths linked to indoor heat has been increasing in recent years.

Research question

How can real-time indoor temperature data enable actions that can prevent people from getting sick or dying from heat in their homes?

Methods and findings

Hondula examined the possibility of using indoor heat sensors to send real-time updates to residents' family, neighbors, and the health department. He found that technology was not the limiting factor implementing such a system. In fact, the biggest challenges relate to organizational risk management and liability, accountability, and trust.

Partners

  • Cities of Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe
  • Foundation for Senior Living
  • Maricopa County Department of Public Health

Impact

Hondula's project enables action at the level of individuals, allowing resources to be focused where they are most needed. Successful implementation of an alerting system could be a useful complement to longer-term initiatives aimed at improving energy affordability, building weatherization, and other strategies that prevent homes from becoming dangerously hot in the first place.