A Framework for Adaptation of Australian Households to Heat Waves

Saman, Wasim, Boland, John, Pullen, Stephen, de Dear, Richard J., Soebarto, Veronica, Miller, Wendy F., Pocock, Barbara, Belusko, Martin, Bruno, Frank, Whaley, David, Pockett, John, Bennetts, Helen, Ridley, Barabara, Palmer, Jasmine, Zuo, Jian, Ma, Tony, Chileshe, Nocholas, Skinner, Natalie, Chapman, Janine, Vujinovic, Natalija, Walsh, Moira, Candido, Christina, & Deuble, Max (2013) A Framework for Adaptation of Australian Households to Heat Waves. NCCARF Publication 87/13. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, QLD.

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Climate change is leading to an increased frequency and severity of heat waves. Spells of several consecutive days of unusually high temperatures have led to increased mortality rates for the more vulnerable in the community. The problem is compounded by the escalating energy costs and increasing peak electrical demand as people become more reliant on air conditioning. Domestic air conditioning is the primary determinant of peak power demand which has been a major driver of higher electricity costs.

This report presents the findings of multidisciplinary research which develops a national framework to evaluate the potential impacts of heat waves. It presents a technical, social and economic approach to adapt Australian residential buildings to ameliorate the impact of heat waves in the community and reduce the risk of its adverse outcomes.

Through the development of a methodology for estimating the impact of global warming on key weather parameters in 2030 and 2050, it is possible to re-evaluate the size and anticipated energy consumption of air conditioners in future years for various climate zones in Australia. Over the coming decades it is likely that mainland Australia will require more cooling than heating. While in some parts the total electricity usage for heating and cooling may remain unchanged, there is an overall significant increase in peak electricity demand, likely to further drive electricity prices.

Through monitoring groups of households in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, the impact of heat waves on both thermal comfort sensation and energy consumption for air conditioning has been evaluated. The results show that households are likely to be able to tolerate slightly increased temperature levels indoors during periods of high outside temperatures.

The research identified that household electricity costs are likely to rise above what is currently projected due to the impact of climate change. Through a number of regulatory changes to both household design and air conditioners, this impact can be minimised. A number of proposed retrofit and design measures are provided, which can readily reduce electricity usage for cooling at minimal cost to the household.

Using a number of social research instruments, it is evident that households are willing to change behaviour rather than to spend money. Those on lower income and elderly individuals are the least able to afford the use of air conditioning and should be a priority for interventions and assistance. Increasing community awareness of cost effective strategies to manage comfort and health during heat waves is a high priority recommended action.

Overall, the research showed that a combined approach including behaviour change, dwelling modification and improved air conditioner selection can readily adapt Australian households to the impact of heat waves, reducing the risk of heat related deaths and household energy costs.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 62001
Item Type: Book
Additional Information: Acknowledgement
This work was carried out with financial support from the Australian Government (Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).
The role of NCCARF is to lead the research community in a national interdisciplinary effort to generate the information needed by decision-makers in government, business and in vulnerable sectors and communities to manage the risk of climate change impacts.
The research team acknowledges the financial and in-kind contributions of the project partners, namely, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the South Australian Government, Uniting Communities (formerly Uniting Care Australia) and the Australian Institute for Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating. The contributions of the Project Steering Committee members Paul Nagle, Andrew Klos, Mark Henley and Lasath Lecamwasam are duly acknowledged.
We are enormously thankful for assistance received by many people in Adelaide Sydney and Brisbane in the recruitment of participants as well as collecting and
analysing the data. We also acknowledge the support provided by all households and participants in the key informant interviews who made this research possible. The
Sydney component of that study was also supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP110105596).
Keywords: heat waves, households, adaptation, adaptive thermal comfort, building design, electricity demand, behaviour analysis, building design and regulation, air conditioning regulations and practices, public awareness, climate change
ISBN: 9781925039580
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES (040100) > Climate Change Processes (040104)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING (090600) > Power and Energy Systems Engineering (excl. Renewable Power) (090607)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified (111799)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > BUILDING (120200) > Building not elsewhere classified (120299)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Urban and Regional Planning not elsewhere classified (120599)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500) > Urban Policy (160514)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 University of South Australia and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
Copyright Statement: This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the
copyright holder.
Deposited On: 22 Aug 2013 23:26
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2015 00:33

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