An international study funded by the UK Medical Research Council has attributed Australia’s higher death rate from cold weather to the poor build quality of homes.

Published in the Building Knowledge newsletter, the study, which links temperature, building quality and mortality rates, compares deaths caused by cold weather in Australia and Sweden. According to Professor Barnett, a researcher based at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia’s death rate due to cold weather is almost double that of Sweden and is almost entirely due to the poor build quality of homes.

While Swedish homes are well insulated and designed to have stable internal temperatures, many Australian homes are unstable as heating and cooling systems are often an afterthought. Australian homes are commonly serviced by an oversized air conditioner, poorly insulated walls, and leaky doors and windows, resulting in a 60-85 per cent heat loss. Lack of insulation in the home not only increases inefficiency but also the heating cost.

Apart from high heating costs, constant exposure of a building to low temperatures can also result in mould caused by condensation, leading to more frequent illnesses and an increased likelihood of a shorter life expectancy, which has been proven in the study.

Bradford Insulation (CSR) suggests that the use of simple insulation techniques in new construction can help eliminate as much as 70 per cent of excess air leakage. Effective insulation can also improve heat loss in existing homes.

Bradford products such as Enviroseal ProctorWrap and Bradford insulation batts are recommended for dramatically improving the ability of a home to retain warmth, helping reduce the mortality rate in Australia due to cold weather.