Cheaper loans announced for green renovations

Home owners will score cheaper bank loans to pay for solar panels, electrification and other climate-friendly renovations after the federal government expanded an energy ratings tool to apply to existing houses.

The natHERS certificate, which gives an energy efficiency scorecard to new builds, will now apply to the rest of Australia’s houses, enabling banks to issue green loans to home owners.

The expansion of an energy ratings tool to existing homes means owners will score cheaper loans to renovate.


Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Environment and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and his assistant minister Jenny McAllister jointly announced the expansion as part of a suite of measures designed to boost green investment, including bonds to bankroll major clean energy projects.

Bowen said the tool had existed for some time for new homes but “it’s been not really catering for existing homes, which is of course the vast majority of Australia’s housing stock.”

NatHERS’ website said the assessments on existing homes will help identify renovations to improve comfort and help to reduce energy bills.

“An energy assessor will visit a home to take measurements and look at its construction and the building materials that have been used,” the website says. “The assessment will include a comfort rating in hot and cold weather and the energy used by appliances such as air conditioners, heaters and hot water systems.”

Westpac welcomed the move to provide nationally consistent energy standards for households.

“This gives us better information to be able to design those solutions,” chief sustainability officer, Siobhan Toohill said.

However, she said it would be some time before such loans would come into effect.

The government has also announced a green bonds program that will enable major institutions and other investors to back public infrastructure projects designed to drive down emissions, slated to begin next year, as well as delivering greater funding to watchdogs to crack down on greenwashing, the practice of overstating environmental credentials for commercial gain.

Bowen said the nation needed capital to effectively respond to the climate emergency.

“Our policy since election has all been about encouraging private sector investment into Australian renewable energy and decarbonisation to make sure Australia keeps up in a global race,” he said.

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