A framework for adaptation of Australian households to heat waves
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 conditioning selection will allow Australian households 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 awareness campaigns were found to be of limited effectiveness. The report also considers the design of houses to minimise heat gain.
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