In Australia, heatwaves are the deadliest natural hazard and a major driver of peak electricity demand. The disproportionately high peak demand increases electricity prices, causes occasional blackouts and exacerbates energy poverty, all of which limit one’s ability to use air conditioning. Meanwhile, increased energy efficiency of dwellings may decrease their heat stress resistance. This paper challenges whether the current Australian Nationwide Energy Rating Scheme encourages heat stress resistance.
Cooling consumption, peak cooling demand and the risk of indoor overheating were assessed for a typical single-storey home in Adelaide and Sydney. Design options between 6 and 8 stars, plus two traditional, energy-inefficient homes were simulated with the AccuRate energy simulation program.
This paper demonstrates that the NatHERS does not directly encourage heat stress resistance in new homes and can even deliver buildings with worse heat resistance and increased reliance on air conditioning than traditional, energy-inefficient buildings. This overreliance on air conditioning can present a public health hazard, consequently, the integration of heat stress resistance in the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme is recommended.
Recommendations for the analysis and assessment of heat stress resistance are provided.
Keywords: Energy rating scheme; Indoor overheating; Excess heat factor; Adaptive comfort model; Heatwaves