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Kiwi homeowners rush for ratings

Homestar™, the comprehensive home rating system launched last month online at, has seen a rush by Kiwi homeowners for assessments on their houses.

More than 3,300 New Zealand homeowners have already assessed their houses with the free rating tool that aims to help them create a healthier, more comfortable and energy-efficient living environment.

The majority of assessments – more than 75 per cent – achieved a Homestar rating of less than 5 out of 10 stars and most homes currently sit at around 2 out of 10 stars.

Alex Cutler, CEO of the New Zealand Green Building Council, a Homestar™ joint venture partner who runs the tool, says that they are energised by the interest in the site and the number of completed assessments.

“To see this early demand for a tool like Homestar™ shows that there is a strong and growing awareness in New Zealand of the importance of building better performing homes and a need for reliable information on how to improve our existing housing stock,” says Ms Cutler.

Ms Cutler says that direct feedback from users about the usability of the site and the comprehensiveness of the assessment tool has been overwhelmingly positive.

She relates one comment fed back from a site user that says “You don't have to go around your house counting your lightbulbs or anything fussy like that. Insulation came out as the top thing I need to do and I was expecting that. Was intending on getting an electrician in to check all the wires are good before the insulation and hadn't even thought about the couple of recessed downlights in our house so will get those fixed up too. Then onto the insulation with one of those government grants!”

“Feedback like this is proving that Homestar is providing the information and impetus people need to make tangible changes to their homes that will help them live better – in a healthier, more comfortable and efficient home.”

“Homestar was developed to help the people who live in our one million homes that need to be improved”

Ms Cutler says the reason that most homes haven’t scored higher than a 2 out of 10 is that these homes are not suitably insulated.

“Ensuring that your home is properly insulated from top to bottom is still the single biggest factor that is keeping down the performance of New Zealand homes. Sorting this will immediately lift most 2-star homes to potentially 4-star ratings.”

The online assessment covers insulation, heating, water use, waste, ventilation and indoor air quality, among other things, and calculates a value rating, from 1 to 10 stars, based on these factors.

The online tool also provides useful information on cost-effective upgrades and other available options for improving home health, comfort and efficiency, including the grants available through EECA.

Ms Cutler says Homestar™ has now trained 100 industry Homecoaches™ who can provide assistance with the online assessment and tailor a set of recommendations specific to the homeowners needs. About 80 more coaches will be trained by March 2011.

She says Homestar™ information kiosks will also be available soon in selected PlaceMakers stores nationwide.

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