Renters in Canberra are taking unusual measures to keep their house warm and keep their energy bills low during the bitterly cold winter months as a new report finds a staggering number of rental properties have the minimum energy efficiency rating.
30-year-old Cameron Van-Lane and his three housemates in Dickson have taken to bubble wrapping their windows in their Dickson home to keep the winter chill at bay.
Mr Van-Lane said the chill in the house led the group to be willing to try any measure to stay warm.
“Our house has a reasonable heating system and we run the heating in the morning and evening but it is an expensive heating system to run and as soon as you turn it off, the house quickly loses its heat and gets cold again,” Mr Van-Lane shared.
“Because it is an older house, the windows are single-paned, there is no insulation and there are gaps around doors. We have tried to fill up the gaps with tape where possible.
“The idea of bubble wrapping windows was introduced to me recently and I have tried it in my bedroom and it has made a difference. We are now looking to do that in some other communal rooms around the house.”
Mr Van-Lane said bubble wrapping his windows had never crossed his mind before but the practice was straightforward and nonobtrusive.
“Some people take issue with the fact that you no longer can see through that window or it might be an unappealing sight from the outside,” he shared.
“In our particular house, we have done it to windows that are not facing the street and aren’t particularly functional as it is. Moving from Brisbane to Canberra has been a bit of a rude shock and I spend most of my days and nights in down jackets just to stay warm.”
According to a new report from advocacy organisation Better Renting, more than 43 per cent of Canberra’s rentals have an energy efficiency rating of zero.
The report titled Baby it’s Cold Inside: Energy Efficiency Ratings in the ACT, reviewed over 19,000 real estate advertisements and found that over two in five rental property energy efficiency ratings were zero.
The report analysed 8,228 real estate advertisements and 10,796 rental ads between July 2018 and June 2019, finding that one in twenty ratings for properties for sale had a zero energy efficiency rating.
A zero star rating means “the building shell does practically nothing to reduce the discomfort of hot or cold weather”.
Better Renting has been running a campaign called Healthy Homes, asking the ACT Government to introduce minimum standards for rental properties, which executive director Joel Dignam said is essential to address the gap in energy efficiency standards.
Mr Dignam said the report’s findings send a shiver down renters’ spines.
“People who rent in Canberra are practically living in another world: a world of cold, draughty homes, that cost you money and make you sick,” Mr Dignam said.
“This report is an unwelcome confirmation of the fact that people who rent are missing out and being left to shiver through winter in the worst properties out there.
“People who rent are doing what they can to stay warm, but they can’t solve this problem. The ACT Government needs to make sure that landlords take responsibility for ensuring that their properties can be kept at a safe and healthy temperature in summer and winter.”