What is Homestar?
Homestar is an independent rating tool that certifies the health, efficiency and sustainability of New Zealand homes.
It’s been around since 2010 and is a quality-assurance mark – a bit like Energy Star for appliances, or the WELS scheme for water efficiency.
The current Building Code sets minimum standards for internal moisture, ventilation, energy efficiency and insulation, but even a new home built to Code can perform poorly. In fact, the temperature in many New Zealand homes is at least 2˚C lower than the World Health Organisation’s minimum indoor daytime temperature of 18˚C, according to a 2006 He Kainga Oranga study.
Homestar means warmer, drier homes
A high-rating Homestar home has a heavily insulated thermal envelope for optimal energy efficiency, so your home will be warm in winter and cool in summer (and cheaper to heat). Excellent ventilation and moisture control are standard, meaning less mould and a healthier environment when winter illnesses strike.
You don’t need to install flash new gadgets to get a good Homestar rating: nearly half the points a house can earn relate to energy, health and comfort. That’s because getting the basics right – good orientation for sun, high levels of insulation and controlling moisture – is vital to create a healthy, efficient home.
Homestar also doesn’t need to cost more, because it rewards good design choices (such as where to place windows to maximise sunlight).
How does Homestar work?
A home is rated on a 1-10 scale: a rating of 1 Homestar means it needs significant work, and 10 Homestar indicates international best practice. Most existing New Zealand homes only achieve a 2-3 Homestar rating. A new home built only to Building Code would achieve 3-4 Homestar.
At 5 Homestar, you have a home that’s better than Building Code; but 6 Homestar is the level at which you’ll start to notice a real difference in terms of better warmth, dryness, health and water efficiency. That’s because it’s certified as having:
- better levels of insulation than Building Code requires, so your home is cheaper to heat
- moisture-control measures
- water-efficiency measures such as dual flush toilets and low-flow showers, to save you money on water and/or hot-water bills.
There’s no one way to achieve a Homestar rating – although houses have to score a mandatory minimum number of points in energy, health and comfort, there are many options in other areas. For example, some people might opt for photo-voltaic panels for solar energy; others may want to score high for good waste practice.
Homestar awards points across six categories – learn more by exploring our virtual home.
What about the cost?
Getting a Homestar rating requires planning, and paying your Homestar Assessor for their time, but it won’t end up making a house unaffordable. In fact, affordability is one of Homestar’s key advantages.
- Homestar reduces the cost of running a home, especially in terms of energy and water savings. Over seven years (the expected home ownership period), homes rated 5 and 6 Homestar enjoy annual savings on energy and water bills of $573-$729 per year.
The 2013 Homestar Cost Benefit Analysis demonstrates why it’s worth using Homestar, whether you’re building or renovating.
How do I get a rating?
We’re glad you asked! Any home can get a Homestar rating – and we have all the information you need to get started.
Homestar is a trademark of the New Zealand Green Building Council.