Renters shiver below minimum healthy temperature 17 hours a day in winter, report finds

 In Home News Section, Uncategorized

Wearing multiple layers of clothing and going to bed early is one of the many ways Ada Fitzgerald-Cherry keeps warm in her Canberra share house.

“It’s a little depressing but often when I get home from work in the afternoon, I just get straight into bed because it’s cold,” Ms Fitzgerald-Cherry said.

“My housemate who works from home full-time, he soaks his hands in hot water before he starts work.”

In attempts to keep warm by using heating, her daily energy bill has jumped from $3.80 a day in the summer to $12.70 dollars a day in winter.

“The house just leaks energy, the floors are cold, the ceilings are cold, there’s condensation on the windows, it’s like trying to heat a cardboard box.”

Health risk from low temperatures

Ms Fitzgerald-Cherry’s experience is not unique, with a new report revealing the health and hip pockets of renters were being put at risk by substandard homes across Australia.

Tenant advocacy organisation Better Renting tracked temperatures in 75 rental homes from all states and territories in June and July.

The report found renters were spending three times more in energy to warm up their dwellings than home owners with energy-efficient properties in the same suburbs.

The World Health Organisation recommends 18 degree Celsius as the minimum healthy indoor temperature.

But temperatures inside the Australian homes tracked dipped below this minimum temperature for an average of more than 17 hours a day.

Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said health risks from substandard rental properties needed to be addressed.

“Draughty, uninsulated rental homes force temperatures down and power bills up,” he said.

“Renters told us about getting sick more often, about a constant state of worry over energy costs, and an unending battle against mould and damp.”

Mr Dignam called on governments to implement minimum energy efficiency standards for rental homes.

“Governments are currently working on a framework for minimum rental requirements, and this could be a pivotal first step in helping to make these rental homes [are] fit to live in during winter,” he said.

The report recommended stronger tenancy rights after some of the renters in the research said they were too worried about retaliation from the landlords to ask for repairs.

Cold homes and expensive bills

Better Renting received applications from a diverse range of renters from various locations and housing types for the research.

One of the common problems that emerged was many renters were still unable to get warm even when they chose to run their costly, ineffective heaters because their rental homes were not built to be energy efficient.

Renters often ended up with both low temperatures and costly energy bills.

The research also compared three owner-occupied homes in Sydney that had been renovated with energy-efficient features to nearby rentals.

They found renters were consistently colder by about 4C and temperatures in those homes dropped faster overnight and increased more slowly during the day.

In Melbourne, a renter with ceiling insulation, bubble-wrap on windows and ducted gas heating spent about $6–10 a day on energy.

A home owner in the same Melbourne suburb with passive solar design, rooftop solar and electric heating only spent about $2 a day on energy and found the house retained heat better.

(Original ABC Article)