The independent Climate Council is calling for a better national construction code, warning that even a short delay in strengthening energy efficiency will lock in higher power bills and carbon emissions for decades.
The energy efficiency advocates also want minimum standards for rental properties, an overhaul of public housing, and gas to be banned from new housing developments by 2025.
The Tent to Castles report released on Thursday found living in a 7-star, all-electric house in any capital city would save occupants on average $450 per year on heating and cooling costs – and $233 for Queenslanders – compared with the current 6-star standard, which many older homes do not meet.
Extreme heat contributes to about 3000 deaths each year in Australia, while health expert Hilary Bambrick said it was appalling that cold houses contributed to six per cent of Australia’s deaths per year – double the rate in Sweden where winter temperatures reach minus 30 degrees.
“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,” Prof Bambrick said.
For every new home built to 7 stars, the emissions saved each year are equivalent to taking a car off the road for a year, according to the report.
Economists calculated the economic benefits of avoiding these emissions over a ten-year period at up to $3.5 billion.
“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. This update would save Queenslanders living in these super energy efficient homes up to $233 a year on their energy bills.
“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 emissions, strengthen our energy grid and create jobs.
“Australian homes are energy guzzling compared to those built to higher minimum standards overseas. 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.”
State and territory ministers are preparing to meet in July to review regulations that govern minimum energy efficiency standards in new homes.