Some things in the press really make my blood boil. A government body has seen fit to tell people to turn off their air conditioners in 40 degree Celsius heat to protect the climate. That statement is incredibly irresponsible on face value. What really makes my blood boil is that the request is really about MONEY!
It appears the South Australian Government back peddled on their media release. And so they should! I couldn’t find the alleged media release on the Department’s website tonight. This is the Adelaide Advertiser news report which is evidence that it ever existed.
South Australians urged not to use air conditioners in heatwave
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January 27, 2009 06:00pm
THE State Government says a press release urging people to use alternatives to air conditioning during a 40C-plus heatwave was merely intended to save you money.
Acting Energy Minister Paul Holloway called a media conference this afternoon and told reporters the Government was “merely suggesting to consumers a range of complementary measures to help them save money”.
Citing our community’s environmental responsibilities, the Government today put our a press release saying there were many alternatives to using air conditioners, urging South Australians to instead insulate ceilings, use external blinds or a pergola to shade windows, and use fans.
Doctors said the suggestion that people should use alternatives to air conditioning during a 40C-plus heatwave was “highly dangerous” – and a strong majority of AdelaideNow readers voting in the poll on this page agreed.
Mr Holloway today said air conditioning was most effective if there was good insulation, the curtains were closed to keep direct sunlight out, air flow was directed properly and the system was well maintained.
“Certainly, it is not the Government’s intention that people should not use their air conditioners,” Mr Holloway said.
The press release issued this morning stated: “There are many ways to keep your home cool before using air conditioners.”
Australian Medical Association state president Dr Peter Ford said the elderly and infants in particular were “vulnerable to extreme temperatures”.
“This may put them at risk of acute health issues,” Dr Ford said.
“Certainly we would advocate that people utilise passive design methods of maintaining a cool environment, such as closing curtains and so on, but we would not want to provide inappropriate emphasis to people about refraining from using air conditioning.
“For some people, such advice can be highly dangerous. It can be a highly dangerous path to follow.
“Some elderly people in particular are very community conscious and become concerned about such advice and really take it to heart.”
The Opposition has branded the Government “irresponsible” for suggesting people abandon air conditioning during a week of sweltering temperatures.
“Reducing carbon emissions is fine but keeping babies, young children and the elderly healthy and cool must come first,” said Opposition energy spokesman Mitch Williams.
Is this advice appropriate in the midst of a 40C-plus heatwave? Vote in our poll on this page and have your say in the comment box below
The mercury hit 43.2C in Adelaide at 3.20pm today.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Tom Boeck said overnight temperatures should remain in the mid to high twenties, causing restless nights for some people.
An ETSA spokesman said there was no need for people not to use their air conditioners.
“We are not telling people not to use their air conditioners today. People need to make sensible decisions about their needs,” the spokesman said.
“There is no concern about meeting demand. The network performed well last summer, we have done a lot of work to make sure we can carry the demand this summer.
“We’ve upgraded and updated transformers at risk of overload, upgraded sub-station capacity in a number of areas to cope with increasing demand in those areas.
“Our job is to distribute the power people need.”
The national energy regulator NEMMCO forecasts peak demand of 2850 MW during tomorrow’s 40-plus degree day – still within an available supply of 3116 MW given grid availability.
‘Many ways to keep your house cool’
The Transport, Energy and Infrastructure Department’s energy division’s press release said residents should consider closing curtains and using portable and ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
“Fans and evaporative cooling are good choices to minimise energy use and greenhouse gas emissions,” acting community programs manager Jim Corbett said.
Greens MP Mark Parnell said people needed to be sensible when trying to do their bit for the environment.
While his family was yet to use their air conditioner, Mr Parnell said it would likely be switched on over the coming days.
“If the house becomes too hot, we will run the air conditioner,” he said.
“There have been situations in the past where elderly people have locked themselves in their homes during extreme temperatures and they have not used air conditioners, which has caused them to suffer heat stress and even die.
“People should not be told not to use air conditioners, especially if their health is going to be put at risk.”
But he urged people to use restraint with their air conditioners and “not run them willy-nilly”.
The elderly are at particular risk of becoming heat-stressed.
In 2003, an estimated 15,000 French people – mainly elderly – died of heat stress and related illnesses during an extended period of severe temperatures.
Heatwave to last at least a week
Adelaide will swelter through at least another week of blistering heat, as maximum temperatures remain above 35C after the next two days in the forties.
The temperature is expected to reach 41C today and tomorrow, then drop slightly into the high 30s before any hope of real relief, possibly next Tuesday.
The Ambulance Service has extra crews and resources on standby to cope with the heat and fire bans are in place across the state.
Thousands of public and Catholic school students will brave a scorcher when they return to school today.
The SA Education Department allows schools to send students home after 12.30pm if the forecast is for 38C or an hour early if it hits 36C.
The decision is made by each school but those with airconditioning are less likely to be affected.
Independent school students return next Monday.
Victoria’s worst heatwave in 100 years
Meanwhile, Victoria is facing its worst heatwave in a century, with firefighters, rail operators and power companies on standby.
The extreme heat starts today with a forecast top of 38C for Melbourne followed by four days of 40C-plus.
Weather bureau senior forecaster Terry Ryan said Melbourne had not endured four straight days over 40C since 1908.
“It is the worst heatwave most will have lived through,” he said.
At Rod Laver Arena, Australian Open organisers are scrambling to prepare for searing on-court temperatures which typically are up to 10C higher than outside.
Ice vests will be provided to all players when temperatures become extreme and 10-minute breaks will be offered to women and juniors between second and third sets.
What a ridiculous statement by the government! What – only use air conditioners on cold days?
And what exactly were the working conditions of the public servant and the manager who penned and authorised this request? Air-con on for at least 12 hours a day, computer and printer on at the ready, flouro lights on every x square metres to ensure there are no law suits for eye strain? Did you know that if the office temperature goes above x degrees that workers have to be sent home?
I have a father who is not as young as he used to be. When he tells me it is hotter than usual at home I am relieved when he tells me he has used the airconditioner. Hey – that’s what they are for!
On the other hand, I live in a country close to the equator. I don’t have air con in my home. That’s the main reason my Dad won’t come to visit. My son and I can handle the heat and humidity without life threatening consequences. Not so for others.
Will the public service twits responsible for this request confess that they had the air con on at work all day??????
It is really about MONEY!
In a former job I had cause to learn a bit about the workings of the electricity supply industry in Australia. In Australia, the state governments subsidise the cost of electricity as it is seen that electricity supply is an essential service and therefore should be provided at an affordable cost.
The relevant competition authority calculates what the efficient cost of electricity production should be. The electricity provider argues that up, if they can. The state government regulates the price at which the electricity supplier is allowed to sell the electricity. The state government then pays the electricity supplier the difference between the price the electricity supplier is allowed to sell electricity for and the EFFICIENT cost of production.
In each state there are a number of electicity generation plants. Some are newer and more efficient financially. These are usually coal based generators. At the most expensive end of the production chain are the diesel power generators. In order to minimise the cost of production of electicity, the electricity suppliers buy electricity from the most efficient power generator first. As demand for electricity increases beyond the capacity of that generator, the electricity supplier buys electricity from the next most efficient power generator, and so on as demand for electricity increases each hour.
The times for peak demand of electricity are hot days, and during daylight hours. During these times the electricity supplier has to buy electricity from just about every power generator available, including the much more expensive electricity from diesel generators. Electricity suppliers hate hot days. The cost of the product they are required to provide goes through the roof.
And THAT is why some government body in South Australia decided to beg the public to not use their airconditioners when 40 plus temperatures were forecast – so that the electricity supplier would not have to buy so much of the more expensive electricity from the diesel generators.
The request to not use airconditioners is not really motivated by saving the climate.
So, if even ONE person dies as a result of heat stroke which could have been prevented by turning on their air conditioner, I reckon this makes a pretty good case for manslaughter.
The “climate change” mantra is being well and truly abused.
Filed under: scepticism | Tagged: air conditioner, airconditioning, climate change, cost of electricity, electricity supplier, global warming, government subsidy, health, heat, heat wave, sceptic, temperature | 3 Comments »