A STUDY on cost-effective construction and design methods for new homes is expected to help builders raise energy ratings with minimal cost.

The government-contracted, 12-month project involved builder G.J. Gardner Homes Victoria and Tasmania working with Sustainability House to identify how homes could go from a five-star rating to six without breaking the bank.

G.J. Gardner Homes Victoria and Tasmania managing director Ross Morley said some of the methods found to improve a home’s rating were simple.

“Most of it is not rocket science,” Mr Morley said. “It’s about having a larger amount of glass facing north to catch the winter sun in cooler climates and keeping out the summer sun.”

The research project was undertaken to help builders meet the change in house energy ratings from five to six stars, which came into effect last year, and included two G.J. Gardner Homes designs.

Mr Morley said the study had confirmed the builder was on the right track in designing homes to maximise their energy efficiency, and the principles discovered during the study would be used on future homes wherever possible.

“By careful design and careful orientation, the costs are minimal, but if people want particular things that don’t help the rating, then they will pay the price by other areas of the house being more insulated,” Mr Morley said.

“This information has been spread to our franchise network. The benefit would be to get a couple of builders to ring up and want to be franchisees because of what we’re doing.”

Some of the energy-saving methods identified included using hard-surface floors such as tiles and polished concrete to absorb heat coming in through north-facing windows; reducing the amount of windows in other directions, particularly the west; and finding the correct width for eaves so the winter sun could still come in underneath and the summer sun would be shaded out.

The first parts of the study are available to be viewed in the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s draft National Building Energy Standard-Setting.

Read more at Hume-leader.com

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