Image: Canva.
  • 18˚C is considered a safe indoor temperature during the winter by WHO
  • Many renters saw temperatures below 18˚C for some 18 hours a day
  • Energy efficient homes only saw temperatures below 18˚C 2% of the time

New research from tenant advocacy organisation, Better Renting, has found Aussie renters reported unsafe temperatures at home for some 18 hours a day during winter.

In Better Renting’s Cold and Costly report, temperatures and humidity in 75 rental homes were tracked for seven weeks through June and July, with temperatures below 18˚C recorded for 75% of the time.

Better Renting quoted the World Health Organisation, noting:

“For countries with temperate or colder climates, 18 °C has been proposed as a safe and well-balanced indoor temperature to protect the health of general populations during cold seasons.”

World Health Organisation (WHO), as cited by Better Renting

The report found that those living in energy efficient homes saw temperatures below 18˚C only 2% of the time or about half an hour a day.

“Everyone in Australia should have a home that is warm and dry in winter, that keeps them and their family safe. But renters are missing out. Draughty, uninsulated rental homes force temperatures down and power bills up. 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,” said Better Renting Executive Director, Joel Dignam.

“The good news is we can do better. 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 fit to live in during winter. When we analysed some efficient owner-occupier homes in Sydney, we found that they had higher average temperatures and lower humidity, making them much better to live in. This shows what renters are being locked out of, but also the potential for improvement.”

New South Wales was found to be one of the worst offenders for unhealthy living conditions regarding mould and damp. NSW had the highest average humidity of any area, with 83% of recordings above 60% relative humidity, and over half of recordings above 70%. Accordingly, many renters described a constant struggle against condensation and damp.

Tasmania had the greatest proportion of time below 18°C, 91.0%. This is over 21 hours per day below the WHO recommended minimum healthy temperature. Tasmania also had the highest rate of entire days below 18°C: 61.5%.

State/territory Researchers Time below 18°C (%) Days below 18°C (%) Avg. Min. Temp. (°C)
NSW 16 85.1 55 10.5
Vic. 10 80.2 40 9.8
SA 12 79.2 41.2 12.0
WA 12 56.5 17.5 12.9
Tas. 8 91 61.5 7.5
Qld 4 28.6 0.5 14.8
ACT 8 88.3 49 7.4
NT 4 46.6 29.1 13.7
Australia 74 75.1 40.3 10.8

Source: Better Renting’s Cold and Costly report.

One of the key findings included a comparison of owner occupier homes and renters in the same suburb of Victoria. The owner spent around $2 a day on energy and their home is typically around 17-20°C. The renter has a home that oscillates from 13 to 18°C, rarely exceeding a healthy minimum temperature. They spend $6-10 a day on energy.

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