The Summer Survey from Sweltering Cities and Healthy Homes for Renters of over 2000 Australians has found that rising temperatures are having a significant toll on community wellbeing including both physical and mental health impacts. It is the largest ever survey on heat, health and homes in Australia. The report released today reveals that hot homes, workplaces and classrooms are reaching baking temperatures leaving communities vulnerable to illness, increasing financial pressure and cascading crises.
- 66.8% of respondents reported feeling unwell on hot days or during heatwaves. 1 in 8 people had to seek medical care because they were unwell in the heat.
- People who rent are three times more likely to leave their homes for a cooler location on hot days (30.6% of all respondents, 14.5% of people who own their own home, 47.3% of people who rent.)
- Over 60% of respondents said that concerns about cost stop them turning on their air-conditioning
- Respondents overwhelmingly support higher energy efficiency standards for new homes and minimum safe summer temperature regulations for rental properties
- Over 50% of people believe the way their suburb is built increases heat
The ‘Summer Survey’, an initiative of Sweltering Cities and Healthy Homes for Renters, polled 2147 respondents from 695 different postcodes across Australia between December 2021 and March of this year.
Sweltering Cities Executive Director Emma Bacon said:
“Rising temperatures are a public health emergency. Communities across the country know that the heat is getting worse and staying cool is getting more expensive. There are simple solutions that can cool our homes and suburbs; now we need governments to take this issue seriously.
“We were struck by the significant mental health impacts that people reported. Over 100 respondents described depression or anxiety related to sleeplessness, feeling unsafe at home or social isolation when it was too hot for normal activities.
“The NSW Government has backflipped on a plan to ban dark roofs and cool suburbs, but two thirds of NSW respondents support ‘Lighter coloured roofs, streets and buildings to reflect heat’.”
These extreme temperatures are a threat to health, says Healthy Homes for Renters spokesperson, Joel Dignam.
“Our homes should provide sanctuary. Instead, when the mercury rises, they are becoming ovens. It’s not good enough, and renters are particularly vulnerable due to lower-quality dwellings. State governments need to introduce minimum standards for rentals, requiring basic measures like ceiling insulation, to help keep rental homes safe and healthy through extreme weather events.”