PROJECT HIGHLIGHT: Climate Safe Rooms in Victoria
The project was funded by the Victorian Government and was led by Geelong Sustainability in partnership with CSIRO and others. The project aims to retrofit one room in vulnerable households to remain comfortable during both summer and winter extremes.
The Climate Safe Rooms project focused on creating a safe haven in the homes of up to 16 people most at risk of serious illness or death from climate extremes.
The project had six main outcomes:
- Deliver individually designed Climate Safe Rooms for up to 16 satisfied vulnerable residents who matched the selection criteria.
- Test and prove a corporate social responsibility (CSR) model through the delivery of a range of building types and cost of a single room vs whole home.
- Measure thermal efficiency performance, energy usage and affordability, health, and thermal comfort.
- Gather research into how improving home energy efficiency can benefit household energy use, thermal comfort and the health and wellbeing of the Geelong community.
- Distribute and publish research findings widely to assist with awareness and developmental growth. Additionally, contribute to the CSIRO research areas linking activities of daily living to environment and thermal comfort.
- Determine pathways to expand on the project at scale.
What was done:
The Climate Safe Rooms project provided home energy efficiency and thermal comfort upgrades at no cost to participants. Approximately $8,000 of upgrades were provided per participating household.
Upgrades to the home included some or all of the following:
- Ceiling and/or underfloor insulation
- Draught sealing of doors, windows, wall vents, air gaps, and exhaust fans
- Secondary glazing, window furnishings and/or external blinds
- Efficient light replacement
- Efficient split system air-conditioner for heating and cooling
- Solar PV system
The project also measured the health and energy bill savings that result from making the home more comfortable. They monitored the outcomes over 18 months using a variety of energy usage, thermal comfort, health and wellbeing data.
What was achieved (some key points)
- Nearly 80% of the participants strongly agreed that they felt more comfortable in their houses.
- Electricity bills were reduced by up to 45% in summer.
- Homeowners, also, further benefited from an annual cost reduction of $170 on electricity bills through solar export.
- A collective reduction of around 60 Tonnes of greenhouse emissions per year has been achieved across participating houses
With the increasing threat of Climate Change and the unpredictable and extended hot (and cold) periods it will bring, people’s homes will have to work harder or, there will be more burden on their hip pocket. Regardless, with no action to improve houses and knowledge, people will suffer due to the poor thermal performance of their homes.