Amidst rising inflation, 7-star energy efficiency could save Australians money

The Climate Council is calling for the 6-Star energy efficiency standard for new homes to be raised to 7-Stars. Photo: UNSW Newsroom/file photo.

By TILEAH DOBSON

While petrol prices have started to abate, the cost of living for everyday Australians is still an issue, to put it mildly. Yesterday, the latest Australian consumer price inflation figures were released, confirming what most of us already knew: inflation is rising sharply.

Consumer prices surged by 2.1 per cent during the March quarter, while the annual rise of 5.1 per cent is the highest in more than 20 years.

Amidst these gloomy figures, a Climate Council of Australia report, Tents to Castles, says Australians would make significant savings – in addition to helping the environment – if home energy efficiency standards were improved.

The report’s findings suggest that living in a 7-Star, all-electric house in Central Sydney would have occupants saving $225 per year compared to those living in homes built to the current standard of 6-Stars.

Further into Sydney’s west, where temperatures are higher in the summer, residents’ savings would increase to $400.

The report also found that updating the National Construction Code to ensure that all new buildings in Australia are built to minimum 7-Star standards would save 46,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released each year.

The report comes as state and territory ministers prepare to meet in July to review 11-year-old regulations on government minimum energy efficiency standards in new homes.

With the release of the report, the Climate Council is now calling on ministers to modify the National Construction Code to increase the standard from 6-Stars to 7-Stars.

Nearly a decade since the dissolution of the Climate Commission, the Climate Council is calling on state and territory ministers to take action against climate change. Video: The Climate Council/YouTube.

Delaying modifications to the code could see power bills and emissions locked in at high levels, according to Climate Councillor, leading economist and co-author of Tents to Castles, Nicki Hutley.

“Australians cop some of the most expensive energy bills in the world, with as many as 85 per cent of us experiencing bill shock last year,” Hutley said.

“Greater energy efficiency means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which is essential for tackling climate change. This update would save New South Wales residents who live in these 7-star homes up to $400 every year on energy bills.

“But that’s not where the benefits of making homes more comfortable to live in stops: we can also improve people’s health and wellbeing, reduce emissions, strengthen our energy grid and create jobs.”

The Climate Council is encouraging residents to join their cause and email their local MP to urge the adoption of their recommendations, such as implementing mandatory energy efficiency disclosure at point-of-sale, phasing out gas from all new housing developments by 2025 and ensuring housing standards are prepared for rising climate extremes.

Climate Councillor, Professor Hilary Bambrick, believes action needs to be taken now to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Photo: Hilary Bambrick/Facebook.

Fellow Climate Councillor and health professor Hilary Bambrick called on Australian governments to take urgent action.

“Poor energy efficiency standards have left too many Australians living in substandard homes dubbed as ‘glorified tents’, which are unbearable during summer and freezing in winter,” Professor Bambrick said.

 “In a sunburnt country like Australia, it’s appalling that living in environments that are too cold contributes to six per cent of deaths. That’s double the rate in Sweden, where winter temperatures reach minus -30oC.”

 “If we urgently update our new build standards as well as upgrade poorly built existing homes we’ll all be much happier and safer, and as a country we’ll be contributing fewer emissions.”

Tileah Dobson is the news editor and sub-editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

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