THE State Government will make energy-saving devices compulsory in all new homes, units and townhouses in a bid to cut household energy use by 40%. Environment-friendly devices will include water-efficient shower roses and toilets, rainwater tanks, and solar and gas power.
More than 100 houses a day are built in Queensland and the aim is to introduce devices that could also save homeowners money and therefore encourage sales. Legislation is expected to be introduced into Parliament in the second half of next year.
Environment Minister Desley Boyle said the Government had moved to adopt five measures likely to deliver significant energy savings.
"Water-efficient shower roses and toilets, rainwater tanks, energy-efficient lighting and solar or gas hot water systems can save householders thousands of dollars each year," she said.
Ms Boyle said as Australia's fastest-growing state, Queensland would need up to 40,000 new houses a year for at least five years.
"If we all changed our electric hot water systems over to gas, solar or solar-electric, it would be the equivalent of taking 400,000 cars off the road," she said.
Ideas proposed in a discussion paper include:
Queensland Master Builders director of housing Peter Osterhage said some of the items were already in use but the changes would add to the cost of homes, although it had not yet been quantified. Costs would be further increased in 2006 when Building Code of Australia Energy efficiency provisions were introduced.
"Effectively, what they are doing is banning electric hot water systems in new homes," Mr Osterhage said. "The only alternative will be either solar, gas or heat-pump hot water."
Heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse, absorbing heat from the air and transferring it to the water. Mr Osterhage said some of the regulations would be a concern in regional areas where domestic gas was not available.
"An important thing is that we have natural ventilation for cooling rather than air-conditioning and that all comes down to good house design," Mr Osterhage said.
Ms Boyle said Queensland would also adopt new standards for apartments, hotels and motels.
"By making simple changes to the construction standard for windows, floors, walls, ceiling, insulation and ventilation, Australians can save $31.2 million per year in reduced energy costs," she said.
Design changes include wider roofing eaves, compulsory installation of insulation and ways to improve airflow through rooms.
Ms Boyle has released a paper, Towards Sustainable Housing in Queensland, that is open for comment until February 18.