Heatwaves, cooling and young children at home: integrating energy and health objectives

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9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the practices advised by health authorities and performed by parents to cool infants during hot weather. The aim is to explore how health and energy efficiency imperatives can be better integrated for households. Consumption of home air conditioning is increasing around the world alongside policy concerns about energy poverty, climate change and peak demand. This paper analyses online sources containing advice to parents about temperature, hot weather and infant health. The content of this ‘know-what’ for parents was considered alongside experience-based ‘know-how’ (Royston, 2014) as described by parents in 44 interviews and home tours in Australia. Air conditioning is frequently positioned by health authorities as superior to low or no energy practices. However, understandings of infant care during hot weather are diverse and unsettled − both amongst parents and authorities. The absence of health sector consensus leaves space for energy policymakers to engage with the health sector to develop integrated cross-sectoral policy approaches. Continued circulation of adaptive, less energy-intensive hot weather practices is needed. Arresting the trajectory towards widespread reliance on air conditioning can help household finances, reduce electricity demand during hot weather, and avoid leaving parents ill-equipped when high demand or unexpected events compromise electricity supply.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Air conditioning
  • Cooling practices
  • Electricity demand
  • Health
  • Heatwaves
  • Households with children

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