Residential buildings are responsible for around 24% of overall electricity use and 12% of total carbon emissions in Australia.
Energy efficiency in residential buildings has a significant impact on the wider economy and reliability of the energy grid. Growth in household air conditioning is the major contributor to peak electricity demand and a key driver for investment in generation and network capacity.
Energy efficiency in residential buildings also plays an important role for households. It can lower energy bills, improve occupant health and comfort levels, and reduce carbon emissions.
Many existing homes were built before energy building standards came into effect, resulting in poor energy performance. Householders need reliable information on the energy performance of their home and improvement options available.
The Australian Government is working with the state and territory governments to implement measures designed to:
- improve the energy efficiency of new or existing homes
- improve home energy ratings and disclosure
- assist householders to make informed choices about their energy use and appliance purchases.
Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings
The Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings (the Trajectory) is a national plan that aims to achieve zero energy and carbon-ready commercial and residential buildings in Australia. It is a key initiative to address Australia’s 40% energy productivity improvement target by 2030 under the National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP).
The Trajectory was developed in close consultation with stakeholders to outline policies that deliver cost-effective energy efficiency improvements to homes and businesses.
In February 2019, Energy Ministers agreed to the Trajectory for new buildings resulting in the Report for Achieving Low Energy Homes.
In November 2019, an Addendum to the Trajectory for existing buildings was agreed resulting in the Report for Achieving Low Energy Existing Homes. The report outlines potential policies to improve energy efficiency at various stages of an existing home’s life, such as when it is bought, sold, leased or renovated.
Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme
Nationwide House Energy Rating (NatHERS) is a star rating system (out of 10) that rates the energy efficiency of a home, based on its design. NatHERS estimates a home’s potential heating and cooling energy use to help residents save on energy bills through smarter design choices.
Extension of NatHERS to existing homes
In 2019, the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings committed to delivering a home energy rating framework for existing homes which leverages NatHERS.
A 2020 Scoping Report recommended NatHERS should extend to existing homes while continuing to test and learn from the Victorian Government’s state-based Residential Efficiency Scorecard.
The National Scorecard Initiative will facilitate a nationally consistent approach for assessing existing homes. This voluntary 'in home' assessment is extending NatHERS to all homes. It was first piloted nationally in 2019 and further trialled in 2021.
The National Scorecard Initiative is expected to be fully accredited and phased into NatHERS in 2022. Until this occurs, all elements of the initiative will continue to be delivered by the Victorian Government on behalf of all Australian governments. This includes the assessment tool, assessor training and assessor accreditation.
To read more about the National Scorecard Initiative, see NatHERS In Home.
National Construction Code
The National Construction Code (NCC) balances the building and construction sector’s needs with performance standards and minimum requirements for buildings to achieve safety and health, amenity and accessibility, and sustainability.
Most residential buildings in Australia are built to the minimum energy efficiency requirements in the NCC. This misses cost effective opportunities to lower energy bills for households as new energy-efficient technology costs have been falling considerably
Under the NEPP, Energy Ministers agreed to consider changes to the NCC to achieve better energy efficiency outcomes for Australia’s buildings.
After focussing on commercial building energy efficiency in NCC 2019, the emphasis of the NCC 2022 energy efficiency work will be on residential buildings. This will involve the development of enhanced energy efficiency provisions for residential buildings, including a possible increase in the level of thermal comfort and a whole-of-house-energy use budget.
Your Home is Australia’s most comprehensive guide to sustainable homes. It was developed in a partnership between the Australian Government and the building/design industry to give independent and expert advice on how to build, buy or renovate a sustainable home.
Equipment Energy Efficiency program
Energy.gov.au household advice
Energy.gov.au (EGA) provides householders with information on how to reduce their energy bills while living in a comfortable and sustainable home.
EGA topics include:
Building Code Calculator Australian Government
Changes Associated with Efficient Dwellings project Report Australian Government and state and territory governments
House Energy Efficiency Inspections Project Report Australian Government
Report for Achieving Low Energy Existing Homes Australian Government and state and territory governments
Residential Buildings Regulatory Impact Statement Methodology Report Australian Government and state and territory governments
The Evaluation of the 5-Star Energy Efficiency Standard for Residential Buildings Australian Government