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  • Rikki Lambert

NSW Social housing - too hot to handle, too cold too much

A new study of temperatures in New South Wales' social housing has revealed they reach levels adverse to global human health standards.

A UNSW Sydney-led research funded by the state's Department of Planning and Environment and CRC for Low Carbon Living monitored 106 low-income dwellings during the 2018-19 year, monitoring indoor temperature and air quality..

A research team from the School of Built Environment and the Department of Planning and Environment found that during summer, indoor temperatures reached 39.8°C and were above 30°C up to 62 per cent of the time in some residences.

Minimum indoor temperatures during winter also dropped as low as 5°C in some homes and were below 18°C 93 per cent of the time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a temperature band of 18–24°C for thermal comfort and safety.

The study’s first author Dr Shamila Haddad said on Thursday:

“Many social housing dwellings recorded indoor temperatures outside the recommended limits for safety and comfort for substantial periods.
“The housing quality is typically lower than general housing stock and can lack adequate ventilation and insulation, increasing the amount of heating and cooling needed to achieve comfortable and safe indoor temperatures."

The study authors aid social housing dwellings needed to be urgently improved to ensure healthy living conditions for residents and protect them from extreme temperatures. Passive heating and cooling strategies, easy-to-apply insulation, materials and glazing are all cost-effective technologies that researchers say could be implemented to improve the thermal quality of housing while reducing energy demand.

The NSW government has been contacted for comment.


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