A framework for adaptation of Australian households to heat waves

Authors: Wasim Saman, John Boland, Stephen Pullen, Richard de Dear, Veronica Soebarto, Wendy Miller, Barbara Pocock, Martin Belusko, Frank Bruno, David Whaley, John Pockett, Helen Bennetts, Barbara Ridley, Jasmine Palmer, Jian Zuo, Tony Ma, Nicholas Chileshe, Natalie Skinner, Janine Chapman, Natalija Vujinovic, Moira Walsh, Christina Candido and Max Deuble
Year: 2013

This study uses predicted impacts of global warming on key weather parameters in 2030-2050 to estimate changes in energy consumption of air conditioners for various climate zones in Australia. The impact of heat waves on thermal comfort sensation and resulting air conditioning energy consumption in households within SA, NSW and QLD is also evaluated. The study found that climate change is likely to increase household electricity costs above what is currently projected. It is estimated that 38% of total peak electricity demand is due to residential air conditioning. A combined adaptation approach encompassing behaviour change, dwelling modification and improved air condition selection will allow Australia household to reduce the risk of heat related deaths and increasing household energy costs. Each measure in itself would achieve limited success, but when combined, they deliver an effective framework for household adaptation. A combination of social research instruments (interviews, household monitoring, online survey) found that households would rather change behaviour than spend money. As such, improving community awareness of cost-effective strategies for managing comfort and health during heat waves is a recommended high priority; current information and awarenes campaigns were found to be of limited effectiveness. The report also considers the design of houses to minimise heat gain.

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