Excess heat stress is making India’s cities unlivable, making it crucial to design ways to adapt to high urban temperatures. The problem is especially acute in low-income communities in India, where houses are often constructed with materials that absorb heat and require more energy to cool down. These households often use cooling fans and air coolers for hours a day in the summer, raising their energy bills.

These homes, by shifting to passive cooling, could better adapt to days of extreme heat, making households less vulnerable to weather impacts and improving their resilience against climate change risks.


Tata Centre for Development (TCD) at UChicago, Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC-India), and University of Chicago Energy and Environment Lab partnered with the Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT) to evaluate the effectiveness of using heat-reflective paint on roofs in lowering indoor temperatures. While these paints are widely used, there is little rigorous evidence on their effectiveness outside of small-scale pilots.

MHT is painting the roofs of households with heat-reflective paint in a resettlement colony in Delhi. The researchers at the University of Chicago are working with MHT to evaluate the impact of the paints on indoor temperatures, energy expenditures, and overall well-being. This project was one of the winning ideas in the Delhi Innovation Challenge—a joint initiative of TCD and the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi.

This intervention, under which 540 households have been covered, could prove effective during Delhi’s summer. Decreasing indoor temperatures will make life a little more comfortable for slum dwellers, and help the community become resilient to climate change as well.