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A recently-released Climate Council report has found that simple changes to energy efficiency standards in Australia would drastically reduce household energy bills.

The Tents to Castles report found that living in a seven-star-rated, all-electric house in any capital city in Australia would save occupants on average $450 per year on heating and cooling costs compared to the current building standard of six stars.

Adding an extra star to each new home being built in Australia would also mean a 25 per cent reduction in emissions compared to a six star home, too the equivalent of taking a car off the road every year. That’s around 120,000 cars a year. 

For Victoria, the update would reduce a huge 72,000 tonnes of carbon from being emitted each year, as well as 46,000 tonnes in New South Wales and 31,000 in Queensland annually. 

By 2030, this would add up to a 12 per cent reduction of residential emissions nationwide. Economists calculate the economic benefits of avoiding these emissions over a ten-year period as being at least $90 million, and up to $3.5 billion, depending on the cost of carbon factored in.

Improving energy efficiency in new homes also means reduced demand for energy from networks, and higher standards could result in reduced need for network expansion and lower capital costs.

The report is released as state and territory ministers prepare to meet in July to review eleven-year-old regulations that govern minimum energy efficiency standards in new home builds. 

The Climate Council is calling on ministers to amend the National Construction Code to increase the six star standard to seven stars. 

Climate Councillor and report co-author, leading economist, Nicki Hutley, said, “Australians cop some of the most expensive energy bills in the world, with as many as 85 percent of us experiencing bill shock last year.

“Greater energy efficiency means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which is essential for tackling climate change. 

“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 electricity bills, strengthen our energy grid and create jobs.

“Australian homes are energy-guzzling compared to those built to higher minimum standards overseas. 

“A Tasmanian home built today uses more than double the energy of a similar sized house built in Ireland.

“It’s time Australians got to enjoy better living in better quality new homes. It’s a win-win that will raise our standards of living, cut our energy bills and help address climate change.”

Climate Councillor and health expert, Professor Hilary Bambrick, said, “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.

“In a sunburnt country like Australia, it’s appalling that houses, which are too cold, contribute to six percent of deaths per year. 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.”

The Climate Council recommends Australia triple its efforts and aim to reduce national emissions by 75 per cent this decade, and reach net zero by 2035. 

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