The decision to include solar water heaters in the introduction of five star energy ratings for new homes in Victoria has been welcomed by the sustainable energy industry.Victoria, Australia – July 8, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Premier Bracks announced the introduction of minimum five star energy ratings for new homes from 1 July 2004. In the first year customers will be able to build four star homes only if they also fit water saving devices and install either a solar water heater or a rainwater tank. As of July 2005 all new homes will have to be five star, fitted with water saving devices and have either a solar water heater or a rainwater tank. “Improving the energy efficiency of our homes provides real benefits for the home owner and the community,” said Ric Brazzale, Executive Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). “The introduction of the five star energy rating for new homes will deliver substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions and importantly lower the energy bills of home owners.” The biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is from electricity generation. A solar water heater can cut the amount of greenhouse gases produced by water heating by more than 75 percent, according to the BCSE. If all the electric water heaters in Australia were replaced with solar systems, greenhouse gas emissions from Australia’s households would be cut by one fifth, said the BCSE. “This initiative will actually save customers money, provide a more comfortable home to live in and provide environmental benefits for the whole community, It’s a win-win result,” said Brazzale. “The inclusion of solar water heaters recognizes they are one of the most cost effective ways to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and an important part of building environmentally sustainable homes.” Currently, solar water heaters represent just three percent of water heater sales in Victoria.