Green home loans for 7- star energy efficient homes
Australians will soon be able to get a discounted home loan if they buy or build housing that meets high energy efficiency standards, with rock-bottom interest rates.
The Bank Australia Clean Energy Home Loan will offer a discount of 0.4% on interest rates for borrowers who can commit to investing in energy efficiency measures for their new homes. The discounted interest rate would apply for up to five years to mortgages below $1.5 million.
A minimum of seven stars under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) – which rates the energy efficiency of a home based on its design – exceeds the minimum standards of the National Construction Code, and homes built to this rating require less energy for heating and cooling.
A six-star rating is the minimum standard in most states and territories. It indicates good, but not outstanding, thermal performance, according to the scheme.
Green Energy Markets director Tristan Edis said it was a useful initiative to push better standards and its uptake by home owners and builders alike.
“To break the impasse you need to come up with carrots like this type of initiative that will build a bit more demand, which will hopefully lift industry’s capability and say seven stars is not that hard. Then hopefully the government can mop up the mess at the tail end and lift the minimum standard.”
He said the green home loan was a helpful contribution regardless of its outcome.
“Even if home owners don’t take it up, it will get people paying attention. You’ve got to get someone doing it first and hopefully the other banks will follow,” he said.
“If the CEFC can encourage other banks to do the same it can get builders to pay attention, they can up-skill and become capable of delivering on this.”
He agreed the bigger issue at hand was drawing up a plan to deal with existing housing that has poor energy efficiency, saying it would be a difficult task.
“It’s not realistic to expect that the existing stock is able to achieve seven stars at a reasonable cost … it’ll vary greatly,” Mr Edis said.
“If you look at a Victorian terrace that’s going to be a struggle … if it’s not orientated the right way there’s no way to get sun into it, you can’t insulate the side walls.”
He said large package builders have been open and comfortable with minimum standards for some time.
Stockland residential sales general manager Stephanie Vanin said buyers were much more attuned to the benefits of sustainable home design today compared to a decade ago.
“Over the past few years we have seen Stockland customers’ desire for more environmentally sustainable home features increase significantly,” Ms Vanin said.
About 500 people registered their interest in the new green home loan product before its launch, according to Bank Australia.
Bank Australia’s managing director Damien Walsh said it was an example of banking becoming an essential part of the climate crisis solution.
“I want a future where every buyer asks for the energy efficiency certificate when they inspect a property, for real estate websites to have a ‘seven-plus stars’ filter [that brings up pages and pages of homes] and real estate agents to promote energy efficiency ratings as a key selling point,” Mr Walsh said.
AENEC is an accredited organization providing NatHERS certificates for Australia, BASIX certificates for NSW.
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