Energy ratings for established homes on offer

A new voluntary scheme is giving owners of established homes Australia-wide to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.

For almost 30 years, the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) has provided a pathway for new Australian residential properties to meet standards of energy efficiency set by the National Construction Code (NCC). Now the scheme is expanding to include the assessment of existing homes without the need for house plans and specifications.

The new NatHERS In Home ratings program for established homes will be aligned as much as possible with the NatHERS Thermal Performance rating and incoming NatHERS Whole of Home rating programs, which are used for the regulatory compliance of new homes in the planning stage.

A newer tool in the NatHERS toolkit is the National Scorecard Initiative, which was endorsed in August 2021. It’s a rating system modelled on Victoria’s Residential Efficiency Scorecard, and it helps householders understand and improve their home energy performance. Due to the scorecard’s success in Victoria, it is being used to inform development of processes in the In Home scheme.

A National Scorecard Initiative assessment typically costs between $250 and $500 and takes a couple of hours for an assessor to complete. The trained and accredited assessor visits the home, does a thorough assessment, and enters data into an analytical tool. This tool provides a star rating and detailed certificate to the householder. It shows the homeowner which features of a house are costing the most (heating, cooling, lighting, hot water or spas and pools for example) and provides advice on what could be improved. In future, the NatHERS In Home certificate may include a thermal comfort rating of the structure as well.

NatHERS In Home hopes to guide decisions for energy upgrades that can improve comfort and energy efficiency while minimising running costs and greenhouse gas emissions. It will also provide a comparable and reliable rating system for existing homes that will increase consumer awareness of sustainability.

The broader NatHERS In Home scheme is scheduled to be operational by September 2022, but homeowners can already access the National Scorecard Initiative.

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