Constructing or renovating a green home doesn’t only benefit the environment – living in a green home can improve our mental health, sense of home satisfaction and improve our quality of physical health. Having a green home can also save you significant amounts of money in the long run. But what exactly is a green home?
A ‘green home’ can have lots of definitions, but it’s generally seen as one that is environmentally sustainable in terms of the construction and building materials used, has a high energy-efficiency rating and a includes number of installed renewable technologies, such as solar panels or rainwater tank systems.
In Australia, a home is generally considered to be green by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) if the property has a Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) rating of 7 stars or higher.
What kinds of upgrades/installations can make your home green?
There’s no single standardised list of items that your home needs in order to be considered green, but it’s a great idea to include any (or several) of the following set-ups to get you well on the way to a more sustainable home:
- Solar or gas hot water systems
- Solar panels and/or solar battery storage systems
- Solar pool heaters and/or heat pump systems
- Rainwater tanks and/or greywater treatment systems
- Energy-efficient LED lights in more than 75% of your home
- Certified, high-quality double-glazed windows
- Under-floor, wall and ceiling insulation materials that meet the National Construction Code
- Energy-efficient home appliances and white goods
- Energy-efficient electric heaters or split system, evaporative cooler or energy-efficient air conditioner
- Home ventilation
- Electric vehicle charging port(s)
- Real-time energy monitoring systems
Why build a green home?
With seasonal weather shifts, more conscientious consumer behaviour trends and an overwhelming shift in sustainability-led living, many Australians are already thinking about getting a green home or incorporating green renovations without even realising it. According to the Australian Department of Energy, over 60% of Australians say energy efficiency would be a factor to consider when buying or building a new home.
Apart from the long-term savings you can make, it’s inevitable that you’ll need an energy-efficient home. As Australia eventually moves towards net-zero emissions, the vast majority of houses will need to be sustainable.
Best practice energy and sustainability performance initiatives have repeatedly given property owners and managers the opportunity to unlock substantial energy savings, reduce emissions and potentially improve liveability for tenants – and this trend is only building over time. Plus, reporting by the Australian CSIRO has found that significant investment in sustainable homes by 2030 could create thousands of new jobs and save more than $600 million on average household energy bills, so you’d be helping the economy too!
How much can you save with a green home?
Rising energy bills are a major concern for almost all households, but ClimateWorks Australia identified potential energy savings as high as 25% for green homes. Other studies found energy-efficient green homes use 66% less electricity and 51% less water on average. These savings come from the exterior and interior design of the home (like the flooring, walls and insulation) as well as the additional features, like solar panels and water tanks.
While the initial set-up costs can be somewhat daunting at first, solar panels, for example, can save home owners tens of thousands of dollars in energy bills over their lifespan. Solar hot water can also supply up to 90% of your hot water, leading to huge savings and reduced bills each quarter. And in the event of a power disruption in your area, you’d have back-up electricity available for your home at a moment’s notice.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such. Before making any commitment of a legal or financial nature you should seek advice from a qualified and registered Australian legal practitioner or financial or investment advisor.