No You’re Not Imagining It, Australian Houses Really Are Colder Than Normal in Winter

When I lived in my subpar rental in Wollongong, the winter frost would catch your breath in the lounge room. I’d be under 200 blankets. My small portable heater couldn’t stop me from shivering or shaking. I’d sometimes wonder if I should place said heater under my bundle of blankets, even if it could make my home catch on fire. You know, cause even if that happened, at least I would be a tad warmer. 

A lot of other folks suffer similar fates during the winter months while in Australia. This got me wondering: What do some Aussie homes suck in the cold? So here’s what my research uncovered: 

Australia’s House Design Is Lagging Behind

According to The Guardian, Australia has a weak insulation game. In fact, we didn’t get any minimum insulation requirements for our homes until the 1990s. Moreover, housing energy efficiency standards weren’t in place until 2003. This means that this country’s older buildings would need to be radically retrofitted in order to deal with some of the freezing effects of the climate crisis.

But our newer homes aren’t immune from being a cold frigid yikes. For instance, single-glazed glass is typical in Australia, while in Sweden, double-glazing is mandated by law. If we want to have more comfy winters, then some big changes need to be made to our regulations and our homes.

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Renters Are Getting the Short End of the Stick

While the quality of Australia’s buildings is bad for all of us, it’s particularly bad for renters. As per a study of 74 rental properties by Better Renting, these homes were on average colder than 18 degrees 75 percent of the time. This is concerning because the World Health Organisation has strongly stated that 18 degrees is “a safe and well-balanced indoor temperature” that’ll “protect the health of general populations during cold seasons.”

To make this situation worse, renters can’t make modifications to their homes that would make these places warmer. This leads to many families having to choose between being warm with a high electricity bill or having enough food on the table. “We burn tissues, pages of old books, shoe boxes for kindling,” one participant told Better Renting. “We eat two meals a day.”

This situation is completely unacceptable. If we want these folks to live better lives, their homes need to be upgraded, they need financial support to keep warm, and our tenancy laws need reforming.

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