What gives with the Victorian Government and the environment? Don’t Liberals have to pay energy bills?
On Monday last, there was a story in the Age of how, in order to try to “streamline” processes, they were considering removing the 6-star rating on newly built homes. Ostensibly to try to remove “red tape”, this proposal drew heavily on a Master Builders Association report from July 2010, which argued that “forcing” people to build houses with higher star ratings may cost more in building resources than it delivers in energy savings. Now the members of the MBA may be struggling with change, I don’t know, but surely it pays to find out the facts about the advantages or otherwise of building to a high standard.
With rising energy prices (have YOU noticed how your bills have risen recently?), it is likely that if you don’t build in as many stars as you can reasonably afford, you will be paying far more than if you don’t. It was nice to see the article on page 2 about the 9.1 star home in Preston (wasn’t that home featured in a recent issue of Sanctuary?) that saves the occupants about $3,500 per year AT TODAY’S ENERGY PRICES. Now, granted they invested heavily in getting those 9.1 stars but they will reap the benefits for the entire life of their property AND it will have better resale value because of these additions. Add to that the peace of mind you get from knowing that you are doing as much as you possibly can to reduce your GHG footprint and you have got to be way ahead.
Now, call me cynical, but this looks like a case of “dipping the toe in the water” to me as, with the Age Poll showing over 80% of people in favour of the 6-star rating, our beloved premier beat a hasty retreat on this proposal by lunchtime Monday (not that his ministers were aware of this until at least afternoon tea!). This Government has a record of almost outright animosity towards anything that could be considered good for the environment. Don’t they know that they also have to share this environment? What is bad for their opponents with respect to this, is also bad for them. It’s not like the environment cares what political leanings you may have.
Please note: the rise you’ve seen the price of energy in recent times has absolutely nothing to do with either the price on carbon (a.k.a. carbon tax) or on the solar feed-in tariff that owners of photovoltaic systems may be availing themselves of. The costs increases have as their cause the requirement that the utilities have placed upon network upgrades to try to provide us with the ability to meet the peaks in demand that we see on the system especially given the large number of air-conditioners in use these days. Please also note, a well designed passive solar house will need minimal heating OR cooling in comparison with the type of house common before the 6-star ratings were introduced. (Remember the homes built without eaves? How could you seriously believe that that kind of construction was appropriate anywhere in Australia?) Any heating or cooling required can be accomplished with smaller (and hence cheaper) plant and equipment – yet another saving!
Let’s demand of our Government higher standards than this; indeed, let’s ask them to raise the bar higher still and introduce 7, 8 or 9-star homes – by doing so, these homes will reduce their demands on the electricity network, save their owners money for the life of the home and be a part of the solution to the problem that IS Climate Change.