Home Energy Ratings In 2012

by Chris Lang on November 23, 2011

Home Energy Rating

There are eight million homes in Australia today and they have been reported to use up 13 percent of the total energy use of the country and are responsible for emitting 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. These figures are expected to grow in the future because of the trend towards building bigger houses. It has been predicted that private home energy use will grow by 55 percent in the 30 years from 1990 to 2020.

The Basics of Home Energy Ratings

In an effort to lower carbon pollution, the Australian government is introducing a price on carbon for the major polluting companies with half of the amount raised to be given to householders through its Clean Energy Future Plan in the form of tax cuts and pension increases to help combat expected price increases. It is also working with home owners in an effort to lower their household pollution contribution by making savings in their energy usage. This is to be achieved through a mix of regulation, financial support, incentives, information and support. As a result there are planned changes to be made in the way new homes are built and older homes are renovated. A building’s energy performance is to be rated and changes are expected to be made in the way people generally use energy especially in the area of energy efficiency with regards to household appliances.

To be able to meet the Australian Government’s 2020 carbon reduction targets the government has been quietly increasing building energy efficiency regulations on all new homes being built. From 2012 all homes will have been given an energy efficiency rating. These ratings will have to be disclosed whenever a home is rented out or sold. This requirement is already in force for large commercial buildings throughout Australia and all homes in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

How Home Energy Ratings Work

As a result of the ACT experience it has been found that house prices there have increased in the market by three percent for every energy rating star it receives. This has given some owners selling their properties an advantage of tens of thousands of dollars. While it is acknowledged that many factors take part in determining the price of a home, it is beyond doubt that a home with a higher energy saving rating will be valued more in the eyes of a buyer than one with a lower rating.

The energy saving star ratings on homes will work much like the star ratings you find on household appliances. All new homes from 2012 onwards will be required to be built to certain energy efficiency standards. These regulations will be extended soon after to include renovations to existing homes. In May 2011 the energy standard for new buildings was set at six stars. This varies between states and territories at the moment and the ratings are calculated at the design stage with architects using special computer software. This system ensures the different building plans are consistent with energy saving requirements. There are also other energy saving requirements to take into account that are required to be made under the Australian Building Code.

The Problems of Energy Ratings

The problem being found at the moment is that the energy saving rating is being awarded at the design stage. It doesn’t take into account the final product that may have been subjected to builders cutting costs and making changes to the original plan; changes that could affect the energy rating. This is meaning some home owners are getting a rude shock when they come to resell only to find their home receives a lower rating than that which they originally thought they had.

This anomaly came to a head recently when a home owner in Sydney claimed he had to spend up to $100,000 in making changes to his home, to bring it up to the minimum energy and building compliance standards, after it had already been certified ready for occupation.

Why Use Home Energy Ratings

The reasoning behind adopting the energy efficiency star rating is that consumers will have a benchmark to enable them to make an informed decision on the energy requirement of the home they are thinking about buying or renting. If the home isn’t built to certain specifications it would be fair to assume that the home will have higher power costs and a lower market value, than one that is built to comply.

The National Construction Code that is overseen by the board of the Australian Building Code has determined that the minimum compliance for new buildings will include energy efficiency ratings for the home’s air-conditioning, hot water systems and lighting, and that the ratings be consistent with that of COAG’s National Strategy on Energy Efficiency.

It is expected that as a result of changes made to the building code with regards to the orientation of homes on blocks and maximising the usage of sunlight to suit various geographical situations, as well as the efficient use of products in the home that use energy, that household greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 600,000 tonnes a year by 2020.

This article was written by Timothy Ng. You can read more of his work at CreditCardFinder.com.au where he has a number of comprehensive guides to all types of credit cards.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Energy Rating November 2, 2011 at 11:08 am

May 1st 2012 is when the minimum star rating required for residential projects will be increased to 6 stars.

There has been a lot of work going into investigating the effects this will have on the building industry, to ensure the changes required to building processes can be met without disruption or excessive cost.

However there is more to complying with the new energy efficiency regulations than just getting a 6 star rating from the House Energy Rating Software. The BCA has included other clauses which must be complied with, in addition to the assessment performed by your energy rating assessor.

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Benn Masters November 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

Excellent article Timothy. I think the problem that you have highlighted in respect to to the accuracy of home energy ratings at different stages of the building lifecycle is a good one and something that is often overlooked. Inevitably, compromises are made during the construction phase that have a material effect on the overall efficiency of a building.

To counter this, we often recommend to anyone involved in the decision making process to maintain ongoing contact with their HERS assessor. For example, if different glazing or insulation materials are being used then the HERS assessor can quite quickly provide a response on the effect this will have on the buildings final star rating. The software used these days makes this fairly easy.

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