How Australian homes are heated in winter is of recent policy interest because of greenhouse gas emissions, fuel poverty and public health risks. Policy initiatives around winter warming practices are often contradictory, advising people to heat more for health and less to save money and the environment. Furthermore, how people should live with lower winter temperatures is configured within two assumptions. First, that households should not let the ambient temperature of the rooms in which occupants spend the day fall below 18 degrees Celsius, or, above 21 degrees Celsius. Second, that when it comes to heating choices, people are positioned as rational consumers rather than parents, grandparents, carers or employees working from home. Overlooking the personal in favour of the financial, costs are often envisaged by policy makers to be the key mechanism to change home heating choices of most Australians.
Think about a time when you’ve lived in, or visited, another country, one where the climate is very different from what you’re used to. How did you adapt? Were your strategies for keeping warm (or cool) dissimilar to those of the local population? Was your thermal comfort threshold noticeably different?
When I was a PhD student, I spent a number of years living in Tanzania.
Thankfully, I spent most of my time in the country’s temperate Southern Highlands, but I was also a regular visitor to Tanzania’s largest city: bustling, humid, hot and coastal Dar es Salaam. Continue reading →
Do you have some form of central heating or reverse cycle air conditioning at home? If so, please consider being part of a University of Wollongong research project called Warm as toast? Home heating and energy use in the Illawarra. We seek households who are willing to discuss their home heating practices and energy use, and have their household electricity measured over approximately three months over winter 2014.
July is the coldest month in Wollongong, and we work in a poorly insulated building with no central heating or cooling (unless you are a computer lab). Even on the beautifully sunny days we’ve had lately it can get down to 10 degrees in the office.
That flushes out all kinds of interesting ways to stay warm. Catherine knits ferociously, Nick runs up Mt Keira, Michael wears polar fleece, Chris has a big woollen jacket, Leah keeps cycling. Jen does fieldwork in warm places and when she gets back has a very elegant black coat she can wear all day. My favourite adaptive strategies are the gorgeous assortments of scarves, shawls and beanies that emerge. Continue reading →