Energy-rating discrepancies mislead consumers

News /
24 September 2010

Leading insulation innovator Kingspan Insulation has raised concerns that discrepancies in energy rating software tools are misrepresenting product performance and misleading consumers and building professionals.

Lack of calibration between software employed by energy assessors is leading to inconsistent energy assessments for new homes, allowing builders to cherry pick the software program likely to give a better result using in some cases inferior product solutions, calling into question the enforcement of the Government Protocols put in place to ensure accuracy amongst the software providers in line with international standards.

Kingspan Insulation Technical Manager Keith Anderson said that as the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS), run by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency moved from 5 star to 6 star minimum requirements, it was becoming increasingly important to ensure a consistent, accurate framework for assessments.

“We are finding discrepancies of up to a whole star unit when modelling reflective insulation under a roof against a bulk insulation of similar theoretical R-value.

“As a result, home buyers are being disadvantaged through higher later costs for heating or cooling a home, reducing genuine environmental benefits and diminishing Government efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

“Both state and federal government need to guarantee the integrity of the scheme, particularly as energy efficiency, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the importance of insulation become increasingly prominent issues.”

The issue of discrepancies has been particularly pronounced in Queensland where a commonly used software package is inconsistent with the agreed standard AccuRate.

Mr Anderson believes tighter rules regarding calibration of software should be required to achieve Building Code of Australia (BCA) compliance.

“NatHERS is running tests between software at present but it may be six months before current provisional accreditations are finally assessed.

“We’d like to see immediate changes to how energy rating tools are accredited and a restriction enforced on the use of non-compliant rating tools.

“These changes would ensure a system that guarantees energy efficiency in the residential housing market is truly achieved,” said Mr Anderson.

Kingspan Insulation

Kingspan Insulation’s thermal insulation includes flexible thermo-reflective foil and rigid cellular insulation, for roof, wall and underfloor cavities.

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