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What makes a home green? Eco-friendly features to help save energy and money

Collage of hands swirling around a floating leaf, representing green home growth.

If home is where the heart is, Aussie hearts are going green. New Proptrack research for September reveals more than 55% of surveyed Australians believe energy efficiency is an “extremely important” quality in a house – up 17% from last year.

And it’s no wonder. Repeated coastal flooding and skyrocketing energy bills have many craving relief not just for the environment but for their wallets. 

So if you’re considering going sustainable with your place, or taking out a green home loan, here are some eco-friendly options.

Eco-friendly features for your home

Collage of women watering the gardens around their green building.

Any Australian will tell you the sun shines hard here. Unsurprisingly, Proptrack’s research revealed the top green item of interest is solar power (71%). In the last twelve months, 90% of energy-efficiency-related searches on realestate.com.au were for properties with solar panels.

Other items on Aussies’ green home wish list include:

  • Double-glazed windows.
  • EV charging station.
  • Hydronic heating.
  • Sustainable or local building materials (like mudbrick).
  • Effective insulation.
  • Efficient lighting.
  • Draught proof with good ventilation.
  • Rainwater tanks.
  • Position and size of windows.
  • Passive house design*.
  • NatHERS energy star rating of 7 or above.
  • Greywater systems. 

These features limit a home’s environmental impact by conserving energy, recycling waste, and reducing the overall carbon footprint. They also redirect resources and funding from exploitative industries like fossil fuels – voting with your dollars.

Plus, a new report from QBE finds that adding energy-efficient features could add between 5% - 10% to your home's value, which may 'future-proof' your investment.

*Per Australian standards, passive housing design includes airtight construction with an ACH50 rating of at least 0.60, minimised thermal bridging, continuous insulation, efficient and thorough ventilation, and solar optimisation.

Most energy-efficient Australian suburbs, and why location matters when going green

Green art of a landscape dotted with wind turbines.

Residents in different states and territories had unique green home preferences in Proptrack’s survey. Most searches for EV charging stations, mudbrick builds, double-glazed windows, and hydronic heating came from Victoria, while Queenslanders dominated solar power searches. Western Australians were the most interested in passive housing design.

Most property listings these days advertise green features. In the ACT, it’s mandatory to disclose the energy star rating when selling a house.

On realestate.com.au, the suburbs with the most energy-efficient (7.5+) ratings include:

  • Brunswick, VIC.
  • Bakers Creek, QLD.
  • Southbank, VIC.
  • Nedlands, WA.
  • Brunswick East, VIC.
  • Forrest, ACT.
  • Banya, QLD.
  • Rouse Hill, NSW.
  • Coombs, ACT.
  • Adelaide, SA.

Despite ‘having the most’ energy-efficient listings, only 7% of advertised Brunswick properties over the last year met the 7.5+ rating criteria. The minimum rating for new builds in Australia is 6, while the national average is around 6.2. The ACT has the highest national average at 6.9.

RELATED: CommBank's new Green Home Loan Offer rewards properties rated 7+

Greenness isn’t one size fits all, too. Solar can be a gamble since winter sun varies based on climate, while prevailing winds, proximity to trees, and elevation can all impact energy efficiency (as well as construction and home insurance considerations). 

“‘Five great ways to never spend any money on your household heating’ is a beautiful lie,” one mechanical engineer explained to Mozo.

“The ugly truth is, ‘Let’s look at the spaces you need, the environment you’re building in, the tools you have, your budget, and the rules of your local government, all balanced with the timeframe you have and the longevity of your design, all to come up with a house you’ll probably need to change a little bit anyway as your needs change.’”

Impact of climate change on housing and living costs

Collage of a woman balanced on a seesaw against the planet.

Climate change is one of the main culprits behind the intolerable cost of living. Hefty energy bills, insurance premiums, and petrol and grocery prices often stem from environmental exploitation. Australians may crave greener homes, but according to Proptrack’s survey, more (75%) want affordable necessities.

Nearly 45% of survey respondents also cited a desire to live in a better-designed home in general. But construction has slowed, dragged down by the climbing cost of materials. Many builders have found themselves running over budget for a job they accepted years ago. Until inflation comes under control, green change may come slowly.

RELATED: Rental reform could be great for homeowners! Here's how

Green housing may also be a moot point in many parts of Australia. The Climate Council estimates that 4% of housing across 40 federal electorates will be classified as ‘high risk’ by 2030 due to natural disasters like flooding and bushfires, effectively making them uninsurable no matter the build. Nearly half of those properties are in Queensland.

However, these real consequences of climate change make it vital to keep doing what we can. If a new property isn’t possible, green renovations like window replacements, solar installations, and greywater tanks can be viable options. And as demand for sustainable housing grows, so too will the supply.

Green home FAQs

What is NatHERs?

NatHERS stands for Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme. This government body rates new Australian dwellings for energy efficiency on a scale of 0 to 10 stars. More stars means more energy efficient.

Most states and territories require new homes to have a rating of at least 6 stars, which indicates good but not great thermal conservation. Homes with a 7+ energy star rating are in the "green zone", meaning they're more efficient, resilient, and cost-effective to run.

What is Green Star Home certification?

Green Star Homes is an independent sustainability rating organisation in Australia. A certified Green Star Home will meet specific standards for energy efficiency, air-tightness, air quality, material toxicity, water use, heat resilience, and more.

Getting Green Star Home certification is often a great way to rate your home's energy performance, such as for taking out a green home loan.

What's the difference between a green home loan and normal home loan?

Green home loans operate like standard home loans but are designed to reward borrowers for eco-friendly property features.

While the features vary from lender to lender, some common features of green home loans include rate discounts for properties meeting sustainability criteria, ethical use of interest funds received by the lender, or payment pauses for the borrower to undertake eco-friendly renovations.

Looking for a green home loan? Here are several sustainable options.

Green home loans

Mozo may receive payment if you click the products below. We don’t compare the entire market, but you can search our database of 472 home loans.
Last updated 14 July 2024 Important disclosures and comparison rate warning*
Gateway Bank - Green Plus Home Loan
  • Discount variable rate from 5.79% p.a. (6.08% p.a. comparison rate*)
  • Offset account available
Find out more

Gateway Bank won a 2023 Mozo Experts Choice Home Loans Award in the “Green Home Loan” category, making them a fantastic choice for conscientious borrowers. The Green Plus Home Loan shaves 0.25% off the Premium Package Home Loan variable interest rate for borrowers whose home has a 7+ stars NatHERs energy rating (conditions apply). A 100% offset account is available with Gateway’s Eco Debit Card, and you can make unlimited free extra repayments with a redraw. Just keep in mind there’s a $299 annual fee.

Loans.com.au - Green Home Loan
  • Discount variable rate from 5.64% p.a. (6.23% p.a. comparison rate*) for LVRs < 90%
  • No monthly, ongoing, or annual fees
Find out more

This Green Home Loan from loans.com.au is a fantastic option if you’re looking for sustainability and savings. Borrowers whose homes have at least a 7-star NatHERS rating could receive a 0.60% p.a. discount on their variable interest rate for the first five years, bringing it down to 5.39% p.a. (5.98% p.a. comparison rate*) for LVRs < 90% (conditions apply). You can also add a 100% offset account with no monthly, ongoing, or annual fees.

Bank Australia - Clean Energy Home Loan Eco Plus
  • Discount variable interest rates from 5.69% p.a. (6.19% p.a. comparison rate*) for LVRs < 90%
  • Flexible repayments
Find out more

Widely known as one of Australia’s most ethical banks, Bank Australia pairs its Clean Energy Home Loan with a host of green benefits and features. Borrowers with properties rated NatHERs 7.5+ stars or a certified Green Star Home, plus solar panels could qualify for a 0.30% discount on the Clean Energy rates (with conditions). A 100% offset account is available, with flexible repayments and extra payments with a free redraw. Bank Australia also offers Parental and Eco Pauses to give your finances a break if you have a baby or take on green renovations (conditions apply). Keep in mind there’s an annual $350 package fee.

Evlin DuBose
Evlin DuBose
RG146
Senior Money Writer

Evlin, RG146 Generic Knowledge certified and a UTS Communications graduate, is a leading voice in finance news. As Mozo's go-to writer for RBA and interest rates, her work regularly features in Google's Top Stories and major publications like News.com.au.

* WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

** Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate. You can change the loan amount and term in the input boxes at the top of this table. Rates, fees and charges and therefore the total cost of the loan may vary depending on your loan amount, loan term, and credit history. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Home Loan Awards

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