Culture

Aussie Rentals Are So Cold They Breach Recommended “Safe” Indoor Temperatures

Blame bad insulation, fuel poverty, and the cultural narrative that Australia is a warm country.

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A new study is confirming what many of us already knew: Australian rentals are too cold, and we’re dying.

Better Renting, a community organisation, is looking into the temperature in homes across the country by giving renters devices that log how often their home drops below 18 degrees Celsius. As the ABC reports, this is the recommendation set buy the World Health Organisation for a safe and well-balanced indoor temperature during winter.

So far, people’s houses aren’t looking very safe and well-balanced, with early data indicating that a lot of people’s homes are being kept well under the recommended temperature.

“Even in some relatively warmer parts of Australia, the average temperatures are still really low,” Joel Dignam, the founder of Better Renting told the ABC. “So in New South Wales and Victoria, the average temperature in the rental properties we’re tracking is still below 18C,” he added.

So far, temperatures as low as six degrees Celsius have been detected in homes, with rising power bills likely being one contributor to the low temperatures.

Links are also being drawn between cold rentals and poor health. “We know that cold housing affects people’s blood pressure and their risk of cardiovascular disease, and obviously respiratory disease,” Emma Baker from the University of Adelaide’s Housing and Healthy Cities Research Group said to the ABC.

Participants in the Better Renting project have also mentioned the mental health impacts of feeling cold at home during winter.

In 2017, The Conversation laid out a number of reasons for Australia’s ‘cold house’ phenomenon: Australian houses being designed to keep cool in summer rather than warm in winter, housing built to poor minimum thermal performance standards, and fuel poverty.

A cultural narrative around Australia being a ‘warm country’ has also shaped the priorities of researchers, who have historically been more focused on how to keep properties cool than warm.

You heard it here first, folks: stereotypes aren’t just annoying; they’re making us cold.