JFF - What temperature do you keep your home at?


I'm in a temperate climate, so the winters are manageable with simply a couple of extra layers and winter doonas (duvets, blankets, whatever!). Low teens (celsius) during is about as cold as it gets mid-winter.

Autumn and Spring are usually pretty tolerable. We have folding glass doors on the east and west sides of an open-plan downstairs. So you can just open the place up and it'll be around mid to high 20s.

Summer (which has gotten longer over the past few decades here) is a different story. Low to mid 30s by 8am is your norm. So it takes some managing - as does the relationship I have with my sister, who I live with.

So, with some patience on my part, she finally came home one hot lunch and commented on how much cooler downstairs was. That was the opportunity I'd been waiting for (growing up in the tropics, we lived in a place on stilts, so she's bred with "open it all up for air-flow" as her norm).

When we moved in, I paid for the insulation lined-total blockout curtains down both the east and west opening doors. When it's hot (which is a lot), it's a case of closing up the doors and blinds on the east side of the house till the sun has gone over at lunch, then switching sides - opening up the east side, and closing up the west side. If there's any breeze it will set in mid-afternoon, at which point you can usually open up both sides.

An overhead fan, with that system (we do have glass on the doors which is pretty high-tech, temperature and shatter wise, which is now building standard here), will reliably keep the place around 5 degrees cooler than outside, sometimes more on a hot, still day.

Late summer, when it's high 30s? There's not much can be done beyond sticking a standing oscillator fan directly in front of you wherever you go. Most people either retreat to a water park or somewhere air-conditioned (possibly the only benefit of indoor shopping centres!).

I seem to recall reading that we have some of the highest electricity prices in the world in Australia (which makes no logical sense). But moving around the country, housing design varies substantially to make the most of the climate so that anywhere along the eastern seaboard (where most of the population lives), air-conditioning in modern housing is really only something that you should need during the short periods of extreme temps.

Of course, places like hospitals and nursing homes need to be air-conditioned year round. With the sustainability measures that each of the states have signed up to here (you'll have to excuse our Federal Government for not quite coming to the Paris Agreement party just yet - technically it shouldn't matter since the States have all made their commitments individually), air-conditioned classrooms are being expanded in our 'burbs to become the norm, because schools are transitioning to sustainable energy sources and zero net emissions targets.

20 years ago? Air-conditioned homes used to cause city-wide blackouts on hot days in our major cities. Fortunately, this is less and less of a problem as more people get with the program, and better housing design is trickling into becoming more common.