New schemes call for harsh crackdown on summer air-conditioning use

A sea breeze could be the only relief.

Australian seasons are flighty things. The moment you’re ready to bust out your winter clothing, magpies are everywhere and it’s time for spring. With continual record-breaking temperatures, most of us are used to the extreme heat by now (or at least accepting of its presence), even if we love complaining about how difficult it is to endure. But some Australian states could soon face strict regulations even as the temperatures continue to soar. 

We’ve been told for years that 24 degrees Celsius is the ideal air-conditioning temperature and, to be fair, we’ve also been ignoring that advice for years in order to deal with heat that feels like it’s straight from the fiery pits of hell. Now we’re paying the price. 

A proposed plan from the Queensland government indicates that “during a heatwave, residents may be asked to manage electricity network stress by changing air conditioners to 26 degrees or above and using cooling only in occupied rooms during peak hours”, according to The Courier-Mail.

Businesses could also be asked to set their air-cons to the same temperature in occupied spaces and “avoid using advertising lights and other non-essential lighting, and turn off non-essential electrical equipment”. 

These changes could potentially help to prevent massive blackouts during peak periods, but it’s not yet clear how the hypothetical air-con police would sense if and when someone breaks away from the herd, or what the punishment would be for attempting to maintain a downright chilly 25 degrees Celsius in one’s own home.

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Queensland isn’t the only state trying to mitigate high electricity demand; it looks like Victoria will be introducing a “demand management scheme” that would incentivise voluntary power cuts for households and businesses, according to Nine News

This scheme would see Victorians “get paid for actually turning down their energy use”, with acts such as foregoing the air-conditioner for just 30 minutes during peak demand times. Energy providers taking part in the trial are due to be announced later this month. 

Do you think these small changes will help?