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Solar Saves Lives

This weekend, Victorians like Linda, Alison, and Ester are set to face yet another period of extreme heatwave conditions. However, unlike most Victorians, Linda, Alison, and Ester also face an impossible decision; run the air-con or expose themselves to the extreme heat.

Linda, Alison, and Ester, who participated in the ACOSS 2023 Heat Survey, don’t face this impossible decision alone. Despite the heat, of the 69.7% of low-income participants who had air-con at home, 94.5% reported that they avoid using them because they are too expensive to run. For people on a low income, living in social housing with poor thermal comfort and energy efficiency standards, prolonged heat is an unbearable yet unavoidable cause of emotional and physical stress. Throw a pre-existing health condition into the mix and we have a recipe for disaster that can be fatal. 

Heat is the leading cause of extreme weather-related hospitalisations and deaths in Australia. Functioning best in temperatures around 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, when our bodies experience external temperatures that exceed this range we have to work harder to maintain our core temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.  As temperatures climb we sweat and increase blood flow to our skin to encourage evaporation that will cool us down. But our internal evaporative cooling system has its limits and the longer that we spend surrounded by external temperatures close to our core body temperature, the more at risk we are of over-heating and experiencing medical emergencies like organ failure, kidney failure, or heart attacks.

Increases in heat-related health complications directly correlate to the duration of extreme heat exposure and, with the impacts of climate change set to almost double the number of days of extreme heat across Australia by 2050, more must be done to protect the health of vulnerable Australians.

Healthy Futures has a solution; save lives with solar.

We are calling for a commitment from the Australian Federal Government to:

  1. fund the installation of solar panels on 30% of social housing by the end of 2026.
  2. provide access to affordable, renewable electricity for social housing where solar is impractical.
  3. address poor living conditions by installing air-conditioning and other energy-efficient retrofits to ensure thermal comfort in all social housing. 

Australians like Linda, Alison, and Ester should not have to compromise their financial security or their health. Installing solar panels on social housing and ensuring the availability of reliable thermal regulation will protect the health of vulnerable Australians through the hotter years to come. 

What can you do?

  1. On March 26th we will be delivering our letter to Canberra. Please sign our open letter calling on the federal government for a budget commitment to install solar panels and air conditioning, and implement other retrofits to achieve safe temperatures in social housing.
  2. Help us build awareness and share our work with colleagues and friends.
  3. If you're part of an organisation that could support this campaign, please ask your organisation to email [email protected] and we will add your logo to the open letter.
  4. Share our campaign using our social media tiles.

Article written by:

Beth Truman (BSc Hons. | MPH)
Healthy Futures Supporter




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