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Cold and costly: renter researchers' experiences of Winter 22

Building energy codes Energy efficiency Energy consumption Rental housing Public health Australia

Australian homes are not built to cope with winter cold. As a result, indoor temperatures in winter are often lower than in much colder countries that are better at weatherproofing, insulating, and heating their homes. This indoor cold contributes to higher energy costs, poorer respiratory and cardiovascular health, and adverse mental health impacts.

Renters are particularly affected by this. People who rent are unable to make modifications that would make it easier and cheaper to have a warm home in winter. Thus rental properties tend to have worse energy performance, and renters spend more on energy than equivalent owners. People who rent typically have lower incomes, so energy costs are a greater proportion of their income, and cost concerns prevent many people from using heating.

This report documents the project, Winter Renter Researchers, which sought to explore these phenomena. Better Renting recruited over 70 renters from across Australia to track the winter temperatures in their homes using smart thermometers that track temperature and humidity at one-minute intervals. Participants also contributed qualitative data through surveys, telephone interviews, webinars and digital chat groups.

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