New 5 Star Energy Efficiency Rating is Ridiculous for Queensland

One of the challenges that we face living in such a large and diverse country as Australia is that national standards don’t serve the entire nation. I read an article a while ago about a new 5 Star Energy Efficiency Rating system for new homes and thought that the methods they were using sounded a bit crazy for us up here in the tropics. I wasn’t alone in that analysis as the Queensland Government has decided not to implement that standard in Queensland according to an article I read tonight in our free local weekly paper The Sun – part the Townsville Bulletin.

I do all that I can to make my house energy efficient. Our hot water is not too hot, I use the Air Conditioner as little as possible, our walls are insulated to reflect the heat and we will be insulating our roof with a reflective paint when we have the new roof installed over our deck. The problem with the new 5 Star Rating is that it is written with recommendations for down South in Australia, where it is much colder and they have a very different climate.

Some of the recommendations in the standards are for smaller windows and less natural ventilation. This is crazy for up here where many of the houses depend on large windows and as much natural ventilation as possible to cool the homes. Right now the coolest place in the house (and believe me, our biggest desire up here is to cool the house, not heat it) is the office area where there are two full walls of louvers to let the breeze in. These louvers are fairly new, so once we get our main living area air-conditioner installed they will provide a fairly good seal as well when they are closed to keep the cold inside when it’s just too hot.

My ideal situation would be a house with high cathedral style ceilings and louvers at the peak to allow the hot air to escape and provide plenty of natural ventilation. This combined with plenty of louvers, insulation, overhead fans, window glazing and good exterior shading would provide a house that would remain naturally cool without having to rely too much on the air conditioner.

I was in a fantastic example of a house like this in Fairfield Waters. It is the Fairfield Waters GreenSmart display home and the natural cooling was good enough that when I walked in the house in the middle of summer I was sure the air conditioner was on, but of course it wasn’t. This home would not meet the new 5 Star rating, but for the climate up here it was great.

In Victory these regulations will increase building costs by about 6% or $15,000.
By 2020 the regulations will cost $31.3 billion dollars and contribute only 0.8% of Australia’s greenhouse gas abatement
These standards would virtually eliminate timber floors and replace them with concrete slabs

House Lift is Complete

The house lift was completed on Wednesday next week and we moved back in that night. The house sways a bit, is a bit weird, but it is supposed to be perfectly safe. Because of the design of the house we have to build it in completely before the swaying will stop. It’s making Tamara feel a bit sick when Caleb or I move around too much. She’s 37 weeks pregnant now, so that’s understandable.

Below are some photos of the house now that the raise and restump is complete. Northern House Raising, the same company that did the lifting, should start to pour the slab tomorrow (actually he will probably be starting in about six-hours) and he should be finished by the end of the week. Then we just need to find a builder to do the walls under the house, re-attach our old deck and put on some front stairs.

Front of the House after being lifted
Front of the House after Lifting – sans stairs

Back of House after being lifted
Back of the House after Lifting – scary stairs

Under the House after being lifted
Under the House after Lifting – lots of stumps

Previous Posts in the House Lifting Series:

Cyclone Wati Should Stay Off the Coast

From the look of the forcast Cyclone Wati should continue to track down the coast and hopefully not make landfall at all. It could bring waves and some wind, but nothing compaired to what would happen if it hit land.

Here is what the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology is saying:

Severe Tropical Cyclone Wati should now begin a southward track which will be roughly parallel to the Queensland coast The combination of the cyclone and a large high in the Tasman Sea is expected to produce gales and large seas off the southern and Central Coasts.

Thank God eh?

Survived Cyclone Larry – Now Here Comes Cyclone Wati

We and the house have survived Cyclone Larry, but now we are watching out for Cyclone Wati.

Cyclone Larry achieved category 5 just before hitting Innisfail, about 150km North of Townsville. From what we’ve heard on the radio today about one in three homes there have been destoyed and they are all without power. The reports also said that there have been no reported deaths, which is really good news.

You can read more about the cyclone here: Cyclone deals a massive blow

The builder came around this morning after the heaviest winds had died down and they have put some extra support to stop the house from swaying in the wind. The will hopefully be lowering the house down tomorrow and securing it to the new stumps.

They will need to get this done sooner than later as there is another cyclone coming in along the same path as Larry. This one is called Wati and here is what they are saying about that one:

The Queensland Bureau of Meteorology said Tropical Cyclone Wati was near Vanuatu and moving west, southwest at about 13 knots.

It is now about 2000km east of Townsville.

It is intensifying and moving in the same direction at Cyclone Larry, which is battering the state’s far north coast.

Source: Second Cyclone Follows Larry

From what we heard on the news this morning Wati is already up to a category 3 and we will know more about it’s path in 24 – 48 hours.

Thanks to everyone who put up comments on my previous post. I can only hope now that Watti changes direction or disipates.