Building energy ratings

All homes will be given star ratings in 2012, but is building energy efficiency being measured accurately?
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03.Quick energy saving tips

Whether you rent or own your home, there are plenty of ways to ensure you are running an energy-efficient home.

  • Use efficient appliances – that cheap heater may have looked like a steal, but in the long run it can end up costing you more than you bargained for. Old drink fridges running in the garage are another culprit. Consider making an investment in a new appliance that can save you energy and money in the long run.
  • Switch off – it goes without saying to make sure you switch off all lights and appliances that you’re not using. Make sure you turn off switches at the wall to avoid using stand-by power.
  • Snug as a bug – draught sealing can cut up to 25% off your power bill. Consider installing fans and vents that close automatically, and seal doorways with a draught stopper at the base of the frame.  It’s also important to install good insulation, which can reduce your bills by up to $200 per year.
  • Cold power – Wash clothes in cold water, and wait until you have a full load before running a cycle. When you’re done, dry your clothes on the line.
  • Get around – Use public transport or switch to riding a bike where possible, instead of using your car.

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Case studies

building rating case study JennyJenny Edwards is a ratings assessor in the ACT. She typically assesses homes at the design stage for energy-efficiency requirements and is licensed by the ABSA. She recently bought a home with a rating of three stars with good orientation and sensible levels of window glazing. However, its thermal potential was significantly overstated due to 21 unsealed downlights and two exhaust fans without dampeners not being included in the assessment. The house also received a good score for wall insulation even though the walls were uninsulated, and ceiling insulation was patchy or non-existent. Jenny’s revised calculation put the home at about a one-star rating. She advises home buyers and builders to check the qualifications and experience of their energy assessors and to consider energy-efficiency ratings as early in the design or purchase process as possible.

Building rating case study GillianGillian and Stephen Kozicki's house in north-western Sydney required more than $100,000 worth of additional work to meet minimum government building and energy compliance issues, despite being certified for occupation. They discovered this when they asked Dominic Ogburn to audit the house. The vendor then exercised a contractual right to rescind the sale at the last minute. This left Gillian and her family looking for a hotel room, and later renting until they found a replacement home. After great time and expense, she complained to the Building Professionals Board, and after eight months, minor disciplinary action was taken. Gillian believes the regulation of the industry is completely unacceptable and wants to see the system improved.


Who's in charge?

All new homes and renovations must meet energy-efficiency requirements mandated through the National Construction Code. It’s then up to the state and territory bodies to implement the code and regulate the industry. Other important bodies include NatHERS, which sets out the standards for software requirements, and the Council of Australian Governments, which is in charge of developing the National Strategy for Energy Efficiency in partnership with the government.

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