More work needed to lift home energy rating system


Call to fix flaws now before national roll-out

CHOICE says compliance problems with minimum energy standards for homes may be leaving consumers worse off with higher energy bills and homes with lower market value.

The people’s watchdog says that while energy efficiency can save households thousands in bills, instances of cost cutting by some builders and developers and poorly trained assessors are compromising the effectiveness of standards.

CHOICE also highlights industry concerns about the existence of collusion between sellers and assessors and the questionable use of energy rating software.

“Currently, a new home’s energy rating is assessed at the design phase, rather than upon completion of the work. We have seen evidence of dramatic discrepancies between promised versus real energy efficiencies once a home is built,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.

CHOICE points to a home in north-western Sydney that allegedly required more than $100,000 worth of additional work to meet minimum energy and building compliance standards, despite already being certified for occupation.

"The home owner was shocked to discover that the energy star rating they were given on paper was far less than the reality," says Ms. Just.

CHOICE says that at a time of rising energy bills, consumer confidence in energy ratings is crucial, especially ahead of the planned national roll-out of energy ratings for existing homes in 2012.

The scheme will expand current ACT requirements for energy ratings of up to six stars to be displayed on all homes on the market. A recent government study into house prices in the ACT showed that an energy rating improvement of one star will increase a home’s market value by 3%.*

"The whole point of energy ratings is to give credible information to consumers about the energy use of houses, so they can factor that into their decisions. But if homes aren’t built to specifications or energy assessments aren’t accurate, then buyers could soon find themselves paying the cost in higher bills and lower market value" says Ms. Just.

Prior to home energy ratings rolling out nationally CHOICE wants:

• A survey of the number of newly built homes meeting minimum energy efficiency standards
• Stronger regulation of post-design energy compliance for new homes
• Assessors to be qualified and always chosen by the buyer rather than the building’s builder, developer or seller
• Greater information provided to consumers about home energy efficiency ratings and the most energy efficient ways to use their homes

*http://www.nathers.gov.au/about/publications/eer-house-price-act.html

Read CHOICE's full report into home energy ratings.   

For more information about the CHOICE campaign for a more consumer friendly energy sector go to www.choice.com.au/energychoice.

Media contact:
• Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669
• Matt Levey, CHOICE, Head of Campaigns: 0488 214 066




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