Energy benchmarks for new homes amp up

If you’re planning on building a new home, you’ll want to keep on top of the new energy efficiency benchmarks that need to be complied with, so make sure you’re across them.

Currently, the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) uses house plans and specifications to assess the thermal performance (primarily the ‘shell’ – roof, insulation, walls, windows, and floors) of new homes to demonstrate compliance with minimum energy requirements set by the National Construction Code (NCC).

A star rating out of 10 is given; however, Australia has committed to moving towards buildings that not only have efficient thermal shells, but also renewable energy sources and energy-efficient appliances.

Proposed additions to the NCC energy efficiency requirements means there will soon be two performance ratings to attain to comply with the Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions for residential buildings: existing Thermal Performance Ratings (currently being updated to include more accurate climate data, among other things) and the new Whole of Home Performance Ratings.

The Thermal Performance Rating took on additional significance in 2011 when the federal government mandated that all newly built houses must have at least a 6-star rating.

The NatHERS Whole of Home assessments and ratings are being gradually phased in throughout 2022 and are expected to be fully operational by September. It is hoped the changes will result in improved resilience of buildings to extreme weather and blackouts, lower energy bills, improved comfort and health of occupants, and reduced carbon emissions.

Completing a NatHERS Whole of Home assessment will help demonstrate whether a new build or major renovation will meet or exceed the new energy usage budget under the NCC. It will evaluate the energy performance of heating and cooling appliances, hot water systems, lighting, pool and spa pumps, solar PV, and batteries and show how different choices in structure, design, or materials could improve energy use, prior to the construction phase.

Homes will be given a performance rating out of 100 to allow easy differentiation between high performing homes and those meeting minimum compliance.

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