Western Sydney has grown accustomed to hot summers, so it’s easy to forget heat is Australia’s No.1 natural killer – more deadly than bushfires, flood or storms. And the west is getting hotter due, in part, to what scientists call the urban-heat-island effect.
Urban heat islands occur because hard surfaces such as roads, roofs and footpaths absorb and hold heat; making hot days hotter and preventing homes from cooling down overnight. Activities such as traffic, industry and air conditioning pump out additional hot air, contributing to the effect.
This month WSROC launched its Turn Down the Heat strategy – a plan to cool our communities by tackling urban heat. Under this strategy, councils are working with the state government, universities and other organisations to increase tree canopy, develop cool design guidelines, and deliver community education and research programs.
Individual households can also help combat urban heat by making small changes at home. Increasing greenery in your yard is a simple way to cool your home naturally. Grass, plants and trees cool the surrounding air by releasing water vapour. Trees and shrubs can also shade your home from direct sun.
Where possible, choose lighter colours for the outside of your home as they reflect more heat. This includes paint, roofing, pavers, decking and driveways.
Insulating your home is another important step to prevent your home heating up. Especially if your roof is a darker colour and is not shaded by tree cover.
Windows should also be a key focus. Good curtains and external blinds help block out heat on hot days. If renovating opt for thicker glass. Double-glazed windows are the best option for stopping heat.
Use your air conditioner responsibly. Close off rooms you aren’t using, shut your blinds and avoid turning your unit to the coldest setting. Every degree translates to a 10 per cent reduction in energy use – saving you money and reducing pressure on the energy grid.
- More about Western Sydney’s Turn Down the Heat program: wsroc.com.au/projects/project-turn-down-the-heat.