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6 Star Energy and Thermal Efficiency

There's been a lot of discussion in the building industry lately about the new 6-Star standards that came into effect on 1 May 2011.

Some builders support it, some don't. But what does it all mean for the average person building a new home?

6-Star is the new minimum standard for the thermal energy performance of a new home. That is, it's a measure of the amount of energy that escapes through the building fabric on a scale of 1 to 10. The more stars, the less you have to use your air conditioner or heater, and the more naturally comfortable your home is. Our use of energy is becoming increasingly important, just look at your latest power bill.

6StarBGCBGC's General Manager Kelvin Ryan said that the 6-Star regulation is inherently a good thing for the whole community. "It will save new home buyers money on the running costs of their new home, because it saves energy from the use of gas and electricity. Saving energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which is also good for the environment. Everybody wins." 

To the critics that say it will make housing unaffordable, Kelvin said, "Achieving the minimum 6-Star standard is not that difficult. We have known this regulation was coming since 2009 and used the time to work out the most cost effective ways to both achieve and exceed it. As long as a client takes the advice of an informed builder this regulation does not need to add significant cost to a home. We haven't put our prices up as a result. And we don't stop there. BGC goes one step further to provide energy-saving products such as gas-boosted solar water heaters and photovoltaic systems for a whole-of-home energy solution."

BGC is just one of the many big-name businesses working with the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) to showcase the principles of sustainability. The SEA is a business peak body and works for substantive action at local, state and national levels on sustainable energy across all areas and sectors of Australia's economy. To help educate home buyers on the 6-Star requirements, they have produced a booklet which puts up the facts and dispels the myths about 6-Star.

"If you are thinking about buying a new home, affordability is without a doubt a key concern, but it's not just about the initial costs of construction," said Professor Ray Wills, CEO of the SEA. "Energy costs and water costs are rising, so by following a few simple principles, you can not only be more comfortable in your new home, you can 'future proof' your home against skyrocketing increases in these costs. Compared with a poorly designed home, a 6-Star rating can lead to a home which is up to five degrees warmer in winter and up to ten degrees cooler in summer. Going from 5-stars to 6-stars is estimated to deliver twenty two percent more energy efficiency in heating and cooling which can be a big saving in the hip pocket."

"And if a policy which is under development by the Government is adopted, owners of existing homes that are looking to sell or lease their properties will have to provide information on their property's energy performance. This is already in play for commercial property, but we could see it adopted for residential property as soon as 2012," he added.

Professor Wills agreed that if your builder has a good understanding of 6-Star, the strengthened regulations are affordable and not difficult to comply with.

"Changes made at the beginning are generally much more affordable, or even free, and much less of a headache than having to alter things set in stone later down the track. The booklet we have produced offers easy to adopt suggestions for home buyers, along with answers to frequently asked questions in simple to understand terms."

For a copy of the 6-Star Guide visit any BGC display home, or download a copy from www.seaaus.com.au.