Housing advocates have called for minimum energy efficient standards in rental properties, as the winter chill sets in for Canberrans in the city's oldest homes.
The Healthy Homes campaign is calling for minimum energy efficient standards to be mandated for rental properties, to aid tenants in old, inefficient homes who can't afford to turn the heater on.
Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said many old properties in Canberra weren't able to stay warm in winter, and it was often fruitless to run the heater because of drafts.
"Many renters have known that feeling of cold air blowing through their home in winter, it also means any warm air inside is being replaced by cold air," he said.
"This has pretty harmful effects on the health of renters living in these properties, particularly people with pre-existing health conditions that can lead to cardiovascular disease or respiratory [illness]."
Mr Dignam said work was under way in the ACT, with the government looking at minimum rental standards.
"They are yet to specify what those would be, but that's very positive," he said.
"It is sad it's taken this long ... it's something that is going to make people healthier, reduce energy bills and reduce greenhouse pollution in the ACT," he said.
Professor Emma Baker, who specialises in housing research at the University of Adelaide, said an energy supplement for vulnerable renters to ensure they can keep the heater on this winter, could be the short-term solution but legislating requirements was a "no-brainer" in the long-term.
"[In the past] we didn't think too much about what conditions were like in the rental sector because it was always assumed it was somewhere people weren't staying for very long," she said.
"We've crossed over from having rental as a minor sector to being the next big tenure. A third of Australians now rent their homes."
Professor Baker said Australia could learn from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, who had led in implementing short and long term solutions.
In the UK, vulnerable renters are given an energy supplement, to ensure they can run their heater in winter.
"We see a lot of people, they're sitting in houses, it's cold, they've got a heater, but they're too scared to turn it on," she said.
Mr Dignam said sealing drafts and installing ceiling insulation were key first steps to keep a home warm this winter.
"The cost of these changes would be a fraction of the actual value of the property, but would go to make sure that it is liveable," Mr Dignam said.
Victoria is leading the way in Australia, with new legislation to come into effect by 2023 requiring almost all rental properties to have a have a minimum two-star energy-rated heater. Although, advocates say this doesn't go far enough.
"Hopefully the ACT government will be coming out with something this year that will get us ahead," Mr Dignam said.
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