Brotherhood of Saint Laurence working to understand how the impacts of climate change affect the most vulnerable households
Most of us know someone who will suffer through hot summer days without air conditioning, and research shows that more people die from heat waves than any other extreme weather event in Australia.
In winter, the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) see many people who dare not switch the heater on to save money, with cold homes contributing to hypothermia and thousands of deaths.
Those with chronic health challenges on low incomes in inefficient homes are some of the worst affected.
For more than a decade, BSL's Research and Policy Centre has worked to understand how the impacts of climate change affect the most vulnerable households. They conduct research and innovative programs that aim to better understand and improve the energy efficiency and quality of life of low-income households.
It is no surprise that poor quality housing, combined with high energy costs, is causing serious harm to the health, wellbeing and financial security of many Australians.
Philanthropic funding support has enabled BSL to develop a program to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to those who need them most.
Working closely with partners in the health sector, this model aims to support people with chronic health challenges to maintain safe indoor temperatures, while reducing their energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
Specific groups of concern include people with neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, people over 65, people on specific medications and very young children. This program will deliver upgrades to 125 households and hopes to scale up to upgrade many more.
For maximum impact, BSL has identified three priority upgrades: reverse-cycle air-conditioners for heating and cooling, insulation, and rooftop solar. It may also be possible to provide as-needed upgrades, such as weather-sealing, hot water systems and shading.
Someone who has benefited from the program said: ‘I have a back injury and I’m in pain constantly. I hate winter, but this year I’m not even worrying about it because I know I’m going to be warm. I hope other people can be too.’
BSL is looking for support for this project to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people on low incomes, while lowering their energy costs and environmental impact
For more information, go to www.bsl.org.au/
This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.