Global population ageing has significant implications for public policy in areas such as health, housing and economic security. The notion of housing as a public health issue is not new, yet very little research has examined the links between housing specifically built for older people, energy performance and occupant health and economic security. Utilising a case study approach, this research examined the interplay between the energy efficiency of housing explicitly designed for this demographic, the thermal efficiency of their dwellings, and the impact on internal temperatures and monthly energy costs. The study shows that the thermal efficiency of the dwellings is not the same across all dwellings, impacting the internal temperatures experienced by the elderly occupants and their finances. This has implications for energy efficiency policy, policy governing the energy performance of buildings specifically designed for older people, as well as the mandatory disclosure of building performance. The study highlights in particular the need for energy policy to be further refined to link the thermal performance requirements of buildings to the broader health care plan and specific needs of older people.
Enhanced national energy policy establishing uniform codes or guidelines that address factors affecting morbidity and mortality such as thermal comfort performance is needed. Such policy could be applicable for both new and existing housing stock of all types and would be a valuable asset for a number of stakeholders including the retirement village and residential aged care industry, older people and their family and friends as well as public health agencies.