How to Earn a 7-Star Energy Rating For Your Home

The higher your energy rating, the lower your power bill.


Sounds simple, right?


With Australian homeowners moving towards more environmentally sustainable homes, you can have your own house assessed and graded against the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).


While the standard for most homes is a 6-star rating, a 7-starrating is easier than many people think with a range of smart design choices and energy decisions able to elevate your living - all while lowering your power bill.


Whether you’re designing your dream home from scratch, or looking for simple ways to be more energy-efficient, here’s everything you need to know to hit a 7-star energy rating.


What is NatHERS?


The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) gives Australian homes a star rating out of 10 based on its energy efficiency.


Features that impact your star rating include:


-       Layout

-       Insulation

-       Design features

-       Building materials

-       Orientation and aspect


Your energy rating reflects how well your building uses and stores energy for heating and cooling, with smart design choices and energy efficient construction features able to improve your score. More than a vanity metric, your star rating is a direct reflection of how comfortable your day-to-day life at home is, as well as your potential for financial savings.


Best of all, the changes needed to become a 7-star rated home are possible through innovative design and don’t necessarily require expensive construction costs.


Will a 7-star rating reduce my energy costs?


Short answer, yes.


Slightly longer answer, the upgrade from a 6-star rated home to a 7-star rated home can have the effect of reducing energy costs by up to 20%. For the average Australian homeowner this can lead to savings of thousands of dollars each year.


On top of the financial boost, a home designed around smart energy choices creates a sustainable impact on the environment through conservation of earth’s natural resources and a reduction in toxic waste created by power plants.


Below are some steps you can take to achieve a 7-star energy rating.


Correct home orientation for passive heating


The foundations for a 7-star energy rating are built in your home’s orientation.


In simple terms, pointing your house to the north means catching the radiant heat over winter for free warming, and keeping your home shaded over summer for low-cost cooling. When oriented efficiently, and complemented with other energy efficiency features, your home can reduce the need for auxiliary heating and cooling significantly.


Think of a well-oriented home like a sailboat. When positioned correctly you use the power of nature to make your movement easier. And when positioned incorrectly you need heavy-duty motors and engines to get you where you need to go.


The Australian Government has created a guide for environmentally sustainable homes and recommends utilising your home’s orientation to take advantage of your region’s climate and weather conditions. Doing so will allow you to leverage natural heating and cooling and enjoy passive benefits.


Eliminate gas as an energy source


Once viewed as the ‘cleaner’ alternative to coal-fired electricity, or perhaps a stepping stone on the path to sustainability, gas is no longer a cheap source or environmentally friendly energy source   In fact Australian buildings hoping to achieve the gold standard for sustainability will now have to ditch gas, as part of a major overhaul of the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating system.Switching to renewable power may sound daunting, but with innovations in the energy solutions sector it is easier than ever to eliminate gas as an energy source. Enter, Sanden Eco Heat Pumps.


Hot water heat pump technology takes heat from the air (in the case of the Sanden working very efficiently even if that air temperatureis sub-zero) to warm a refrigerant which is then compressed to a hot gas; heat from this now hot gas is transferred to the water tank via a heat exchanger.  The Sanden Eco Heat Pump is just one example of the type of sustainable design choices that 7-star energy homes are characterised by. Other examples include energy efficient LED lighting, rainwater tanks, solar PV power and battery storage systems.


While solar hot water was previously the most environmentally friendly way to heat a home’s water, efficient heat pumps can provide greater savings of up to 80% on your home’s water heating costs.  Industry disrupting products like the Sanden Eco Heat Pump create a roadmap away from gas offering low running costs and proven longevity.


With a Sanden hot water heat pump you have a system that consumes as little as one fifth of the electricity than traditional electric water, consumes less energy & better running costs than gas hot water and has the ability to run in conjunction with solar PV and batteries for the ultimate in efficiency. While many features of a 7-star energy rated home are required at the design stage, any home can make the switch to a Sanden Eco Heat Pump and enjoy the benefits.


Utilise passive cooling strategies


While easy to turn to the A/C unit when living in Victoria, there are other simple strategies your home can utilise to enjoy passive cooling.


Designing your home’s windows on opposite sides of the property is a simple and effective way to encourage natural ventilation. When it comes to roofing, adding appropriate insulation can help save 40% on your cooling bills. While residential sustainability can feel overwhelming, it is small changes like these that have a big impact.


Adding effective shading can also reduce cooling costs by blocking up to 90% of the summer heat. When you keep direct sunlight out of your home, you significantly reduce the need to use your air conditioning.


Effective shading should be added outside your home, such as:


-       Eaves

-       Pergolas

-       External blinds

-       Natural vegetation


A mistake many homeowners make is to assume curtains or blinds can keep out heat. Heat from the sun is passed from your windows through to your curtains and blinds, which then enters your home and becomes trapped.


Are you ready to upgrade to a 7-star or higher energy rated home?


Sustainable design principles can improve your energy efficiency wherever you live. While many of the design recommendations are best suited to a home in the design phase, simple changes like the Sanden Eco Heat Pump show how easy it is to make a small change - with a big impact.


Adhering to the standards of a 7-star energy rated home come from your home’s orientation, natural daylight, climate, ventilation, shading, and livability.


But the change starts with you.


If you’re ready to make the change to a more sustainable home, speak to a member of the NewGen team today to find out how we can help with your next project.