Researchers help over-65s with in-home heat device trials

How hot is your house? With the summer we’re expected to have in 2023, the chances are it will be a warm one inside the homes of many Queenslanders, including those of our older residents. 

The team at Griffith University’s Ethos Project (Extreme Heat and Older Persons) are partnering with Queenslanders who are over the age of 65 to develop an in-home early warning system for heat.  

Dr Aaron Bach and A/Prof Shannon Rutherford.

Using small sensors to monitor home temperatures and humidity via a smart device developed by the research team, the Ethos system will alert users when these levels become dangerous and provide personalised cooling recommendations to reduce heat health risk. 

“With this year’s El Nino predicted to be a scorcher, the Ethos Project is looking for older persons interested in trialling our system this summer,” Project leader Associate Professor Shannon Rutherford said.  

“In this part of our larger project, we want to trial our system over a summer period to find out your summer exposure to temperature and humidity in your home and to identify how acceptable, useable, and functional our in-home heat early warning system is. 

“The primary benefit of your participation is that this system provides you with real­-time monitoring of your environment and assistance to help you to recognise when there is potential for your body temperature to be elevated and how to cool it to a safe temperature. 

“If you’re a bit concerned about navigating a new technology, no worries – our research team will provide you with continuous support and you’ll have several opportunities to chat with fellow participants and share experiences throughout the trial.

“Other benefits include that the data we collect from your house will help us to better understand the diverse household temperature and relative humidity exposures across the summer period of a range of households.” 

The Ethos team also plan to explore how participants engaged with the system, and take these learnings from phase 1 of the trial to refine and modify the system for an additional round of trials in phase 2 (summer 2024-2025). 

Extreme heat kills more people in Australia than any other natural disaster. In Queensland alone, more than 100 lives are lost each year from exposure to high temperatures. 

The interface is interactive and easy to use.

Without taking the right steps to protect ourselves and keep our homes cool, extreme heat can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

On top of this, heat can decrease sleep quality, worsen medical conditions and put a greater pressure on our heart. Although heat can impact anyone’s health, people over the age of 65 are at an increased risk of experiencing such heath consequences. 

This research is part of a large $2.35 million research project funded by Wellcome (Ethos – Individualised Heat-Health Early Warning Systems: a novel digital solution) with an objective to develop an individualised early warning system (EWS) for heatwaves that can be used across diverse settings. 

Take part in the trial 

If you are over the age of 65, living in South East Queensland and do not have a diagnosis of a cognitive or psychological disorder (such as dementia or schizophrenia), register your interest by emailing [email protected] or giving the Ethos team a call on (07) 5552 7903.  

For more information about the Ethos Project and other ways to be involved, visit the website,