The weather is always a subject guaranteed to start a flow of conversation, and at this time of the year, it’s a particularly hot topic for Wagga residents.
After a weekend which saw the mercury rise to above 44 degrees, one question often posed is: What did people do in Australia without air-conditioning?
Stories are traded about elderly residents and small children being shuttled to cellars, food storage facilities and just about anywhere else that could offer a little relief from the heat.
But the reality is that just as with particularly cold weather, humans don’t always cope with the heat and the results can be fatal.
The elderly, the very young and those whose immune systems are compromised are particularly at risk when exposed to extremes of both heat and cold.
Wagga residents know our summers are hot, and that there will likely be more than a few days when the temperature peaks above what would have been 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the “old scale” – somewhere around 37.7 degrees Celcius.
It is heartbreaking then, that in 2018, The Daily Advertiser is reporting on the tough choice residents have to make when it comes to deciding whether to turn on the air-conditioning – and worrying about next quarter’s power bill – or trying to swelter through a hot day without the comfort of a cooler.
How has it come to this?
Since utility bills jumped an average of 20 per cent this financial year, too many people have had to make tough choices about using heating and cooling – and risk a big quarterly account – or trying to reduce the bill and struggle through the more extreme variations in Wagga’s seasonal weather.
In the 21st Century in a first-world country, no one should have to make the choice between cooling their homes and putting food on the table, yet we know it happens.
Too many people who tried to struggle through winter without heating are now trying to get through summer without putting additional pressure on their electricity and gas usage.
Time and again in the past six months, our politicians have mouthed the right words about “cost of living pressures” and promised solutions.
No solution has appeared, and vulnerable Australians continue to be at the mercy of the weather. It is intolerable.