Melbourne’s heat waves have increased in intensity and frequency so much over the past decade that cooling Melbourne homes by installing air conditioners in both rural and urban areas has ceased being a comfort and has become a necessity.
Homeowners have faced a push to install air conditioners in homes, demand increasing greatly in the past years, as the highest temperature record seem to be climbing each year. In 2016, temperatures peaked in Greater Melbourne at 43.8 degrees Celsius, and 42.2 degrees in the CBD in January. As temperatures grow to worrisome levels, people become increasingly concerned with the effects of such heat waves on their bodies and their lives.
In fact, heat waves and high temperatures have become Australia’s number one biggest natural killer. During the summer of 2009, when the “Black Saturday” bush fires occurred, during which 173 people died. However, the number of people who died during the associated heat wave was actually higher, as 374 people died from heat stress during this time. In addition, according to the Climate Council, heat waves are getting “hotter, longer” and occurring “more often”, meaning that the need for reliable and widespread cooling is not set to drop.
During this huge increase in heat waves in Melbourne, the number of hot days has doubled in Australia in the last 50 years, while in the last decade, hot weather records have occurred three times more often than cold weather records. It is astonishing that in Melbourne and other capital cities, citizens are experiencing hotter weather than expected, with the 2000-2009 decade already reaching the temperature estimates fro 2030. These record heat waves and hot days are also only expected to increase in the future extreme heat conditions previously occurring every twenty years are now expected to occur every two to five years by the middle of the century.
With these intense predictions, more and more people are turning towards air conditioning and cooling in homes in order to escape the oppressive atmosphere in Melbourne’s summer months. It is crucial that communities, social services and families prepare for the inevitable temperature increases, which are already occurring in the severity and frequency of hot weather. One such way to prepare is the installation and use of air conditioners, as the threat to buildings and infrastructure by the heat is clear. Extreme heat can damage infrastructure such as electricity distribution and transport systems, which has a flow on effect in the damage to people’s homes.
In a time of increased heat waves and danger to people due to heat stress, cooling Melbourne has never been so important.