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Energy Efficiency Ratings

By nanzan - 22 June 2009 11

What has happened to minimum standards for energy efficiency ratings for houses in the ACT?

On the weekend we visited a house for sale in Harrison which was only three years old – and it had only a 3-star EER. That’s 3 out of a possible maximum of 6! Our current house in Palmerston, which is 15 years old, has 3.5 stars!

Currently, there are houses for sale in Harrison with as few as 3 stars (and townhouses with as few as 2.5), and in Franklin, which is even newer than Harrison, there are house for sale with as few as 3.5 stars. Why on earth are we continuing to build abodes with such lower energy efficiency ratings? Didn’t the ACT Government some years ago set a minimum EER for new houses?

What’s Your opinion?


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11 Responses to
Energy Efficiency Ratings
GardeningGirl 9:48 pm 22 Jun 09

The cat did it said :

A recent 666 interview with a ACT Gov person indicated that they are moving to an improved version of the software. Which is about time, because the first version was decidedly dodgy.

Come to think of it, one of the homeowners on the Solar House Tour many years ago said their house wouldn’t get a rating that accurately reflects how comfortable and economic their house is.

Considering I saw my first solar passive display home about a quarter of a century ago, it’s disappointing that the concept hasn’t been more widely used and for a lot longer. It would be interesting to know what rating that house would get. Also, it didn’t really stand out that much from the rest of the suburb, like some of the ACTEW sponsored display homes have. I personally have liked a few of those unusual looking houses but I know some people’s attitude is solar passive is too weird, I don’t care how good it works, I won’t live with that style.

The cat did it 7:16 pm 22 Jun 09

IIRC the software was developed jointly by the Victorian Dept of Sustainability & Environment and the CSIRO- so it’s been ‘commercialised’ and you would have to pay to use it, as the assessors do. A recent 666 interview with a ACT Gov person indicated that they are moving to an improved version of the software. Which is about time, because the first version was decidedly dodgy. The original version of the software was only designed for detached dwellings. It couldn’t take into account the thermal behavior of party walls—which significantly improve a dwelling’s thermal performance— so it systematically under-rated a lot of medium-density housing. Nevertheless, the ACT Government has required that it be applied to these dwellings as well as to detached housing. In other places and times, that might be called willful misleading.

The software’s dodginess is apparently compounded by the subjective judgement of several of the practitioners licensed to use the software, who, eg, refuse to identify a wall as insulated unless they can actually inspect the insulation, even though the insulation was clearly specified on the plans. Don’t they trust the builders and the ACT building inspection system?

nanzan 6:36 pm 22 Jun 09

There are house in Franklin currently listed for sale with only 3.5 stars (!!), and in Casey with 4 stars!

House does the ACT Government explain this, I wonder? Does the Government go for a suburb-wide (or estate-wide) average, rather than a flat minimum?

nanzan 6:30 pm 22 Jun 09

GardeningGirl,

I am sure you are right.

On the original plans for this house in Harrison it gained 4 stars (in 2005); when it was assessed for this current sale in 2009 it had lost a star. This is common apparently. Either way, 3 or 4 stars is a little sad for a place as brand spanking new as Harrison.

I wonder how things are looking in Casey, Bonner and Crace – I should look on AllHomes – I might do that right now.

GardeningGirl 6:21 pm 22 Jun 09

Currently, there are houses for sale in Harrison with as few as 3 stars (and townhouses with as few as 2.5), and in Franklin, which is even newer than Harrison, there are house for sale with as few as 3.5 stars.

An explanation I once heard was that the rating scheme has changed and the requirements are now higher so houses built years ago that achieved a high rating may under the newer criteria be only average. I’m not saying that I’m convinced, it’s just something I heard. I don’t see how that could explain 3 star houses in suburbs as new as Harrison. I thought townhouses typically rate higher, as they are better insulated at the sides. Makes you wonder.

I remember when the rating scheme was introduced there was no compulsory minimum for new houses on land released prior to the scheme, because those blocks may not have the ideal orientation. All these years later I don’t see orientation being a major factor in either town planning or house design.

Interesting transcript of a Stateline story on this subject from a couple of years ago here.

http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/act/content/2006/s2065686.htm

Skidbladnir 11:01 am 22 Jun 09

@peterh: Applicances are not included in the EER of the _house_. EER as noted on housing reports are for the structure.

Back on topic…
Why on earth are we continuing to build abodes with such lower energy efficiency ratings?…

Planning natively high EER suburbs takes more effort than the current LDA rush-jobs are willing to put in.
Gungahlin Al will probably have a terrific spray at this later on, but it could also just be an incidental side effect of the affordable housing policies.
NaHERS has noted there being a statistically significant correlation between ACT Housing prices and ERR rating.
High-EER houses, while cheaper to operate long-term, cost more to build, so there is a certain base affordability threshold above which EER becomes a priority.
Effectively, poorer people pay more for being warm by means of being so poor that they can’t afford efficient houses.
Richer people can easier afford to be green.

“Energy Efficiency Rating and House Price in the ACT: Modelling the relationship of energy efficiency attributes to house price: the case of detached houses sold in the Australian Capital Territory in 2005 and 2006.”

Any joyous news you hear about growth in a specific property value of a higher-EER over the five-year period 2003 – 2008 is probably more related to a different housing force at the higher-end of the market than that which was in play at the low-end.

(This current ACT Government provides excessive information about growth of housing prices over the period of its government and concludes this is correlated to its good policies, when in fact it is more coincidental, and correlated to the overall housing economic cycle. This tendency to overstate increase of housing & land value and never expect a downside is going to cause further major economic headaches until it gets brought into line…)

astrojax 10:55 am 22 Jun 09

it’ s a farce that all new buildings don’t have to comply with reasonably high star ratings – especially through such simple simple things like orientation of a building on a block. epic fail of this government once again…

caf 10:49 am 22 Jun 09

I reckon it would need to be done by the building inspector, but you could use it to double-check the figures, or to figure out what improvements you could make.

(It looks like the CSIRO has commercialised the new version of the program and you have to buy it now).

peterh 10:34 am 22 Jun 09

caf said :

The cooling and heating units are not relevant to the star rating.

You can actually download the software that generates the star ratings and plug in all the measurements yourself (or at least, you used to be able to).

caf, would that star rating be accepted by, say, a purchaser of your house? or does it need to be provided by the building inspector?

caf 10:32 am 22 Jun 09

The cooling and heating units are not relevant to the star rating.

You can actually download the software that generates the star ratings and plug in all the measurements yourself (or at least, you used to be able to).

peterh 10:07 am 22 Jun 09

the property inspectors all seem to have a form that is used across the board. Imagine a property that has r5 batts, wall and ceiling, a rinnai infinity, ducted gas, evap cooling that gets a rating of 1.5. the hot water, ducted gas, and cooling were all noted as unknown. considering that the cooling and heating units were in plain sight, as was the infinity, would have thought that the rating would be higher.

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