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The past few weeks has found me either wrapped in thermals and a blanket or working from my bed with my laptop balanced on my lap because it’s really cold in my apartment.
It’s not so much a new realization as it is something else the pandemic has thrown into sharp relief (along with existing inequalities, our country’s reliance on migration and international travel, etc.). It wasn’t until I was spending most of my days working from home, in a room with no heater instead of a centrally heated office, did I really start to really notice that it’s basically the same temperature inside and outside my apartment at any given time.
It turns out that I’m not alone. Experts say that housing design in Australia is largely focused on keeping us cool in summer. We are, after all, a sunburned country: Our relentless summers, and the threats they bring, loom large in our collective consciousness all year round. But this means that keeping warm in the wintertime often becomes an afterthought.
One Queensland public health professor declared a couple of years ago that “many Australian homes are just glorified tents” in the winter, after publishing a study that found 6.5 percent of Australians died from the cold versus 0.5 percent from hot weather.
We tend to treat the cold as something to be tolerated rather than addressed, according to Chris Jensen, a lecturer in construction management at the University of Melbourne.
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