A Griffith University professor has warned that energy inefficiency in Queensland social housing is putting the health of residents at risk.
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A community coalition called Power Together has called for the Australian government to extend funding for energy efficiency upgrades to Queensland in the wake of extreme heatwaves.
“The Sunshine State unfortunately records the most hospitalisations from heat-related illness every year,” said Professor Susan Harris Rimmer from Griffith University.
“Many Queensland tenants are living in unhealthy, energy-inefficient homes that get unbearably hot in summer, which is contributing to hospitalisations and even deaths, and this issue is only getting worse due to climate change,” Professor Harris Rimmer remarked.
Power Together stated that Queensland remains the only eastern Australian state that has not yet received federal funding to improve the energy efficiency of social housing.
NSW, Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania have all received funding under the Household Energy Upgrades Fund, according to Power Together.
Given the severe weather conditions that Queensland has been hit with in recent months, the coalition asserted that the government must treat energy efficiency upgrades as an emergency.
“The extreme heat waves that Queenslanders are currently enduring should be creating urgency,” said Heidi Lee Douglas, CEO of Solar Citizens.
“As the heat rises, Queensland households rely on producing their own clean, cheap energy from the sun to affordably cool their homes,” said Ms Douglas.
As well as installing rooftop solar across Queensland social homes, Power Together recommended installing blinds and insulation to keep heat out.
Luke Reade, policy advocate for Energetic Communities, stated: “Energy efficiency upgrades include the installation of insulation, blinds, shading and efficient appliances.”
“These are the east things we can do now to reduce energy costs and improve the comfort and lives of tenants, especially those in the poorest quality housing and at most risk,” Mr Reade said.
As climate change continues to accelerate, conservation campaigner Stephanie Gray warned that extreme heat will only intensify.
“Parts of Queensland have been dealing with sweltering temperatures this summer,” Ms Gray said. “Research shows the number of heatwaves in Queensland over the last several years has more than tripled largely due to climate change.”
Ms Gray concluded that extending energy-efficient options to all Queenslanders is essential to protect tenants’ quality of life.
“Improving household heat and energy inequality is vital for the health and wellbeing of Queenslanders,” she said.
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