New Zealand home owners can now get independent, tailored information on how they can live in warmer, healthier homes that cost less to run.

Government Spokesperson on Energy Efficiency and Conservation Jeanette Fitzsimons today formally launched Home Energy Ratings in New Zealand.

Ms Fitzsimons says research shows 86 percent of homeowners are interested in information about how they can make their home more energy efficient, and 91 percent of people thought it would be useful to know how energy efficient a home was before they bought it.

"Most people wouldn’t buy a used car without an AA check. Yet a home costs much more than a car, and lasts longer. Up till now there’s been nowhere to go to get a similar check for your house, or for a house you are thinking of buying.

"This voluntary scheme will provide homeowners with the information they need to make informed choices around the way they use energy in their houses."

A home energy rating is an independent assessment of the energy performance of a home including how well the building’s design, construction and orientation enables it to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, and how efficient the space heating and water heating are. It is expressed as a star rating that will enable comparisons between one house and another. The assessment also includes expert recommendations about the most cost-effective ways to improve the home’s energy efficiency and reduce energy costs.

"For people selling a home, it will help get value back for the investment you’ve made in insulation or solar water heating. It will also tell you what to do next to add to the sale value. For people buying, it will tell you how big your power bills are likely to be and help you avoid buying a lemon.

Home energy ratings are part of a package of Government action working towards warmer, drier, healthier homes with reduced energy costs for Kiwi families. Other initiatives include interest free loans and grants to install energy efficiency measures, and the ongoing insulation of low-income houses.