Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Getting ready for summer -it is going to be hot and dry

It didn't take long for the winter rains to dry up here in Perth. Far too early, for me, the forecasts began to be for weeks of no rain, and in this Mediterannean climate that could go on until March. 

The sandy soil dries out quickly unless mulched and shaded.

What is even more concerning are the reports and predictions that this summer will be hotter than ever, and the sea temperatures hotter also.  The toll on our environment is going to be a major concern.  

Click here for the BOM prediction of hotter, drier weather in Perth

About two years ago, Perth and the South West had one of those 'heat bubble' type of weather patterns. The accustomed afternoon sea breezes never arrived. The houses got hotter and hotter and had no time to cool down before the next hot day arrived. It was just after Christmas and went on for about 10 days. 

All the passive cooling strategies we had set up around here, all the shade sails and grapevine pergolas, all the ceiling fans were suddenly not enough.

It was hard to sleep.

Plants died in the heat. Trees were stressed.

We went to the shops to see what we could add to the house to help cool us down. They were selling out of anything which might cool people down - fans, portable air conditioners, the lot. The sales staff confessed the warehouses were empty and that even if you could buy something more permanent like an evaporative air conditioner, there were no installers free to put them in. One guy said his own flat was too hot to sleep in. 

In the end we got a house wide evaporative air conditioning system installed in March of that year, and we LOVE it. In our dry climate it works really well, is very cheap to run and if there is any run off I was able to put in on the garden via a low-pressure sprinkler. 

There are times, however, when we know this system won't be enough. If there is a lot of smoke due to bushfires, or if the humidity is too high, you can't run the evaporative air conditioner. It is not normally a problem in Perth, but the climate is changing! 

We saved up for months, and this week we put in a couple of Reverse Cycle Air Conditioners. They are in the bedrooms. This is so that we can ensure a good night's sleep, and we can always retreat to the bedrooms if the rest of the house is too uncomfortable.

DD is also happy that it will also give her a heater for the winter time. These RCACs are efficient but can be noisy, especially for neighbours. In the process of cooling rooms, they vent hot air outside, which makes the problem worse for our cities. 

Apart from this, I am working hard to get the garden ready for the summer. The reticulation is always in need of some tweaking after winter. I have shade on the veggie beds. I try to grow climate hardy plants, but in summer there is really not much which will survive a 45C day, especially if it goes on for weeks. 

Of course, some of these strategies are not available to people who are renting. There are landlords who do not even have insulation in the roofs of places they let out, and in this climate it should be mandated by law. 

I support the team of activists at Better Renting . Better Renting is a community of renters working together for stable, affordable, and healthy homes. They are doing a survey this summer of the type of conditions renters are facing, and also will be providing strategies for those who are too hot in their rental. Click the link to find out more. 

Meanwhile, I have found some tips for renters here from Milkwood -and they are really practical.

1 comment:

Nanna Chel said...

I don’t think I would survive a 45C day 😵‍💫 We think 35C is too hot here. Our bushfire season has well and truly started in Queensland with multiple fires breaking out. Some were deliberately lit apparently 😳 Chel