The Victorian government is looking at scrapping it’s 6 Star energy rating system. The Age is reporting that the removal of the 6-star standard in Victoria is part of a bid to cut government red tape by 25 per cent by July 2014.
Rather than a reduction in red tape I would argue that the Victorian government is reacting to a ground swell of unhappy people who are having to pay for their part in global warming. Their rancour stems from the unsettled nature of climate science and the very unfair way the cost is being forced on all Australians.
The 6 star energy rating system has been adopted across most of Australia. Homes are modelled using thermal performance software to assess their efficiency. The higher the efficiency the more stars they achieve. A 6 star home will stay comfortable for longer periods in a year and require less energy to heat and cool. A 6 star home will be cheaper to run than it’s five star equivalent, all of which are pretty good outcomes.
There is not a great deal of red tape involved in an energy rating. The rating is done as part of obtaining a building permit and is undertaken by private thermal assessors. They are as easy to obtain as a soil report or a house valuation. The government involves itself in monitoring building permits and in licensing hierarchy of the raters, but otherwise is quite separate from the process. The Victorian government has added the additional impost of solar hot water or rain tanks for the people of this sate alone.
I believe people are fed up with paying for global warming and are wildly unsatisfied that a need even exists. When the populace turn off for earth hour it is typically a 42 inch flat screen that is being powered down. We mean well but we are being disingenuous. I am yet to find a home owner who has been happy to pay the increased cost of LED lights over downlights.
The Age report touts an average cost of $ 5000 to go from a 5 star to a 6 star rating . Whilst I think this figure is exaggerated, equally silly was this statement from Rodger Hills – Acting CEO for ABSA the peak energy rater body in Australia.
“6-star can be achieved with little or no added cost and the amount you can save on your energy bills is significant,”
Can I suggest you get your double glazing where Rodger shops! Clearly the figure lies between these extremes and it is going to take a long time to recover any additional cost with typical energy bills of $1800 a year and savings of maybe $ 400. (based on saving an additional 10,000Mj a year with a 6 star home)
Brian Welch of the Master Builders Association of Victoria says the previous five-star model is more appropriate.
“When you consider the Australian climate, the 5 star was a sensible balance in finding what is a reasonable level for consumer protection in this regard, of energy efficiency,” he told ABC local radio.
We have had these energy rating schemes for some time now but the benefits have been invisible in a period of hyper inflated energy prices. As the cost of electricity and gas rise 30 %, year on year, it is hard to see if we are making any headway.
We have long argued that homes need to be thermally designed from the outset. A significant problem exists with mandatory energy rating schemes where homes are poorly designed initially. The sound idea of North facing solar access is impractical on a west facing suburban block. The principals of summer shading are lost on mock Georgian built without eaves. The measures to achieve a six star rating in these cases are costly and impractical.
All of this is also happening in a period when the world has continued to cool for more than fifteen years. It will be hard to recruit the next generation of green believers from teenagers who have no evidence of global warming during the entire span of their lives. It is also happening before we have discovered the true cost of the ill-advised carbon tax people.
We want to be green, but we just dont want to pay!