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Location, Location, Star rating?

By johnboy - 21 July 2011 32

Jase has pointed out that AdelaideNow has a story on the impact of green ratings, particularly here in Canberra:

“They already have it (green stars) set up in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory), and their saying has changed from `location, location, location’ to `location, location, star rating’ “.

With our serried ranks of real estate moguls here on RiotACT we’re curious as to whether you feel that is the case?

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
Location, Location, Star rating?
Cassandra 2:15 pm 22 Jul 11

Watson said :

Cassandra said :

With regard to storage hot water services and continuous flow or instantaneous hot water services, the efficiency of each is dependent on the type of use the household places on the system continuous flow can use more water than storage systems (not as much of a problem in europe but a big one here) and can depending on design of the plumbing system use more energy. As in all matters of energy and water it depends on a number of variables that in many cases work against each other..

How would it possibly use more water if you’re using it for the same purposes?

Also, surely it would only porssibly use more energy if you’re a big hot water user. For my one shower a day and fairly minimal other uses for hot water, surely keeping a massive tank of hot water hot in freezing winter temperatures is going to use a hell of a lot more of electricity. If you tend to use heaps of hot water, it may not make much of a difference.

But it does sound like the rules and the assessment are a bit arbitrary…

The energy and water use is determined by how much hot water you need and the amount of the draw before the water reaches full temperature.

If all you need is some hot water to say rinse a cup you need to draw enough water at sufficient volume to engage the heating unit (either gas or electricity) this is also going to be the same amount you would need if you are going to have a shower or run a bath.

This is where a large amount of both water and energy can be lost. The continuos flow systems are best when used for continuous supply where supply is intermittent then a well insulated storage is often better as only the water in the leg between the HWS and the tap needs to be replaced to get to full temperature.

But as I said before it is all about design and use, the only way you can get cold water to hot is by putting a lot of energy into it and if you want it to move from hot to cold quickly then then energy requirement increases.

Its also important to note that the rise in temperature is very different in Canberra to Sydney or Melbourne this time of year inlet temperatures can be as low as 5 degrees in Canberra where most other Australian capitals won’t see that drop below the low teens. Getting water from 5 to 50 degrees is a lot more energy intensive that getting it from 15 to 50 degrees.

Most of the products being sold advertise operating figures for normal Australian conditions which for certain times of the year we operate outside of, this is a particular problem for Heat Pump style HWS in Canberra always read the label or the specification sheet to make sure how what it is that you are buying will perform in our climate zone.

Jethro 11:27 am 22 Jul 11

AG Canberra said :

The star rating system for residences is a joke.

Agreed. When we bought our house was rated 2.5 stars, yet it is cosy in winter and cool in summer. Our winter quarter electricity bill comes in at about $300.

Watson 10:49 am 22 Jul 11

Cassandra said :

With regard to storage hot water services and continuous flow or instantaneous hot water services, the efficiency of each is dependent on the type of use the household places on the system continuous flow can use more water than storage systems (not as much of a problem in europe but a big one here) and can depending on design of the plumbing system use more energy. As in all matters of energy and water it depends on a number of variables that in many cases work against each other..

How would it possibly use more water if you’re using it for the same purposes?

Also, surely it would only porssibly use more energy if you’re a big hot water user. For my one shower a day and fairly minimal other uses for hot water, surely keeping a massive tank of hot water hot in freezing winter temperatures is going to use a hell of a lot more of electricity. If you tend to use heaps of hot water, it may not make much of a difference.

But it does sound like the rules and the assessment are a bit arbitrary…

Cassandra 10:22 am 22 Jul 11

Under the Building Code of Australia (BCA) the minimum star rating for new building work went from 5 star to six stars on 1 May 2011 however only the the ACT and Victoria adopted the new standard from 1 May 2011.

With regard to storage hot water services and continuous flow or instantaneous hot water services, the efficiency of each is dependent on the type of use the household places on the system continuous flow can use more water than storage systems (not as much of a problem in europe but a big one here) and can depending on design of the plumbing system use more energy. As in all matters of energy and water it depends on a number of variables that in many cases work against each other.

Gunner Al, the report being talked about was undertaken by the ABS on behalf of the Australian Greenhouse Office and use EER reports collected in the ACT.

There is a difference between energy rating for the purpose of the BCA and an EER, the EER assesses what is actually happing with a building as opposed to a building which has not been occupied. For example if a house has a concrete slab with north facing glazing then the thermal characteristics are rated for that at the design stage, the home owner moves in carpets the slab, carpet is a good insulator which then reduces the thermal performance of the slab which will reduce EER at the point of sale. As i said above everything is about trade off and balance in this area. Some people love bare concrete others love the feel of shag pile and bear rugs but each choice impacts the outcome.

Its also important to remember the ratings don’t take into account major appliances which can be big uses of energy.

OpenYourMind 8:34 am 22 Jul 11

I really don’t have a lot of confidence in the star rating. I’ve bought and sold a number of older houses in Canberra and sometimes the energy rating seems more like a random number and it certainly doesn’t correlate with the apparent energy efficiency of any home I’ve owned.

As an example, check out on Allhomes the block of units in 3 Waddell Pl, Curtin. There’s 4 units on the market at the moment. They range in EER between 0.0, 2, 3.5 & 5.0. Now, it’s hard to make a judgement just from a listing as orientation, insulation, glazing etc. come into the equation. However, the unit that has a 5 energy rating has an electric hot water, timber venetians and has an almost identical look and feel to the 0 rated unit.

Some of the newer houses in Canberra look like energy consumption monsters to me with large open spaces, no eves, aircon, poor orientation etc. Maybe they get their energy efficiency by being all so closely packed together!

Thumper 8:23 am 22 Jul 11

If you’re an APS4 or 5 with a young family you’ll buy anything you can afford and the EER won’t come into it one bit.

JC 7:29 am 22 Jul 11

Gungahlin Al said :

It’s a critical factor for me. We designed our house to be as good as we could possibly afford, and having a toasty warm home that is easy to keep that way is simply wonderful.

Whether or not people would walk away from a low star place is one thing, but research has shown it means a substantial price difference that you’ll get.

Only reason I’d even consider a low-star place is if I was cranking up the dozer.

Al there is a difference between designing a new house with efficiency in mind and buying an established house based on EER. Also you quote some research that says higher EER houses get higher prices, care to share the source of this research, or is it research done by Gungahlin Al?

AG Canberra 6:26 am 22 Jul 11

The star rating system for residences is a joke.

When we bought our house 10 years ago it was rated 2 stars. When we recently sold our place the star rating had dropped to half a star. And that was after we put in better ceiling insulation and exterior and interior window treatments.

After questioning the company about the change, they said ‘software upgrades’. Apparently every time software (that is used to do the calculations) is upgraded, the previous star ratings become null and void.

And then it also comes down to how observant the inspector is.

The house we are moving to (built in 1985) apparently has a star rating of 4. I questioned it, our solicitor questioned it but the company that did the rating reckoned that because it was on a slab and it had wall insulation, that was good enought to get it to 4 stars! And this is with ceiling insulation of only R3…..

Check out the website for the ABC 7.30 ACT Friday nights program. They did a story on the uselessness of the star ratings system a few weeks ago.

Location, location, location, a heap of other factors and then maybe star ratings (to see what insulation the place has).

Watson 9:59 pm 21 Jul 11

Gungahlin Al said :

It’s a critical factor for me. We designed our house to be as good as we could possibly afford, and having a toasty warm home that is easy to keep that way is simply wonderful.

Whether or not people would walk away from a low star place is one thing, but research has shown it means a substantial price difference that you’ll get.

Only reason I’d even consider a low-star place is if I was cranking up the dozer.

If I had some more money, I would’ve gone for location first and worried about EER later. However, I am grateful that the ACT brought in that EER5 minimum for new houses as it will mean I spend less on energy bills on my ‘affordable house’.

I hate how badly insulated the houses are here. Go to any other Western country with cold winters and most houses there are toasty warm. In my European country of birth there was a massive push to insulate houses in the 80s during the oil crisis. Significant subsidies for things like double glazing, etc. Most people there use a lot less energy for heating than we do here.

Innovation 9:30 pm 21 Jul 11

djk said :

I don’t think it is important at all.

I have never heard someone say “We found this perfect house, the wife loved it, the kids loved it, right near the school, blah, blah, blah, but the EER was only 2* so we walked straight out and kept looking.”

While it is certainly nice to know what it is and how it can be improved, it is really not a deciding factor for the vast majority.

While I can’t comment on the opinions of “the vast majority” I wouldn’t be so sure that star ratings are not an increasingly important factor in house selection for many prospective purchasers. It is often very expensive or impractical to get any significant increase in a low rated house. Also, I’ve found that people who feel that higher ratings are not that important, haven’t lived in a house with energy efficient passive heating and cooling principles. It doesn’t matter how much money you are prepared to throw at heating, cooling and insulation, nothing beats the comfort of even and consistent temperatures throughout a highly energy efficient house.

Gungahlin Al 8:24 pm 21 Jul 11

It’s a critical factor for me. We designed our house to be as good as we could possibly afford, and having a toasty warm home that is easy to keep that way is simply wonderful.

Whether or not people would walk away from a low star place is one thing, but research has shown it means a substantial price difference that you’ll get.

Only reason I’d even consider a low-star place is if I was cranking up the dozer.

ImagineThat 8:21 pm 21 Jul 11

djk said :

While it is certainly nice to know what it is and how it can be improved, it is really not a deciding factor for the vast majority.

I would agree with that. It is one of the many factors you can use to decide if a house is right for you, and yes you can always improve the EER later if you want to/can afford to.

djk 4:59 pm 21 Jul 11

I don’t think it is important at all.

I have never heard someone say “We found this perfect house, the wife loved it, the kids loved it, right near the school, blah, blah, blah, but the EER was only 2* so we walked straight out and kept looking.”

While it is certainly nice to know what it is and how it can be improved, it is really not a deciding factor for the vast majority.

Watson 3:38 pm 21 Jul 11

I would be very interested to find out how these ratings are allocated here? I cannot find any detail via Google or the ACTPLA website.

I think it does matter. I only bought in Casey because it was cheap but it is a comfort to know it’s 5 star EER will save me some money on gas and electricity (and AT LAST I’ll have continuous hot water – noone in Western Europe has used hot water tanks in decades!).

I think putting location twice before EER is still correct though. If you have enough money, you can always improve your EER later.

sneakers 3:06 pm 21 Jul 11

Actually, star rating was one of the first things I looked for when wandering around looking for somewhere to live down there.

One of my final (quarterly) electricity bills could have been the GDP of a small country – mind you, the other half had the ducted heating on pretty much 24/7 during Winter. Unfortunately, all the places I lived in had extremely low EERs so couldn’t really compare because I ran away interstate. Cackling with glee, I might add.

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