The implication of scrapping mandatory energy ratings for new homes and extensions were assessed by by Ted Baillieu’s Victorian Government. See why.
Bucking the international trend towards improving the environment, Ted Baillieu’s Liberal Party has considered abandoning the 6 star thermal efficiency requirements. They considered doing this despite supporting the 6 star system at the last election, as well as signing up to the national 6 star code last year.
In a letter last month, Victorian Treasurer Kim Wells asked Planning Minister Mathew Guy to detail a plan for removal of the 6 star standard as part of a plan to cut government red tape.
The 6 star standard is now in application in all states and territories across Australia. It requires energy efficiency measures for the structure of all new homes as well as major renovations including roof, floors, walls and windows.
The Victorian Government claim is that eliminating this requirement will be part of their overall project of cutting red tape. However, we presume that the Government isn’t going to abandon energy efficiency requirements for home builders alltogether. So if there are still going to be inspections, would it really matter if those inspections are for 5 stars or 6 stars?
It is estimated that the extra cost of building a home that meets the 6 star energy standards is around $5,000 per home. This includes the extra cost of energy efficient measures such as improved windows and insulation. The 6 star energy rating also sets standards for lighting in Victoria, as well as the compulsory installation of either a solar hot water system, or a rainwater tank for toilet flushing.
Even though there are additional expenses at the beginning, supporters of the energy efficiency scheme claim that these extra costs will be clawed back over the years through savings in energy bills.
If this move away from the 6 star rating were implemented, it would be the latest in a series of reversals on climate change related policies. The Coalition has already dumped the greenhouse target of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. Similarly, in opposition the Liberal Party supported a carbon price as the best way to cut emissions, however the Victorian Government has now campaigned heavily against the Gillard Government scheme.
As this move was revealed to the public, however, Premier Ted Baillieu made an announcement that he will in fact be keeping the 6 star rating system in Victoria. In stating that "the six star ratings will stay" he poo poo'd the speculation by stating that "the Treasurer has been challenging ministers, as he should, to examine all areas of legislation and regulation to see how we can reduce regulation.
To avoid all of this political wrangling, and general state of confusion, you’re better off to just go ahead and improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here’s some ways to do just that:
To reduce your heating and cooling costs you can install:
Standard windows are very poor insulators. As a result your in winter your home loses a lot of heat through your windows, increasing your home heating bills dramatically. Double glazing reverses this process by turning your windows into insulation.
Stop relying on power companies for your electricity and start producing your own electricity. By installing solar panels on your home you can eliminate your electricity bill completely, and even (if you install enough solar panels) receive an income from the excess electricity that you sell back to the energy grid. This is a great way of avoiding future increases in electricity bills.
Similar to solar panels, you can install a Solar Hot Water system to harness the power of the sun to heat up your home’s hot water. This saves you money by minimising the amount of gas or electricity that your home uses.
Once you have properly insulated your home with insulation and double glazing you should also explore how you can heat and cool your home with very energy efficient home heating and cooling systems. There is a broad range of energy efficient heating and cooling options on the market, ranging from energy efficient split systems and central heating and cooling systems, to systems that rely on natural energy such as that from the sun and even geo-thermal energy.To explore these options in depth you will need to speak with an airconditioning specialist.
Reduce your home’s lighting bll be introducing more natural lighting into your home. Skylights are a great way to improve the look and feel of your home whilst also cutting your electricity bill.