Property: Home-buyers heed global warning

Builders are increasingly making energy-saving measures a priority. By Mary Wilson

ENERGY EFFICIENCY might not be your first priority when choosing a home, but it is beginning to become a selling point, especially with new houses. Most home-buyers are aware of the damage that global warming is doing to our planet and, although they are more likely to be thinking about their own heating costs than the cost to the world, they might be more interested in energy efficiency when they discover it can reduce their fuel bills.

"Energy efficiency is particularly attractive to our older purchasers who are moving to a smaller property and where budgeting is more of an issue," says Andrea Fawell, sales and marketing director of Linden Homes, who has been offering an Energy Cost Guarantee at some of her sites for the last 18 months.

At a two-bedroom flat at Sutton in Surrey, for example, the gas bill for cooking and heating was guaranteed to be only pounds 250 a year. The only downside of the guarantee scheme is that radiator thermostats cannot be put above 23C but, as most people run their home between 19 and 21C, this should not cause too much hardship. The contract period is for three years, but it can be extended.

The scheme has been developed by the independent energy consultants, National Energy Services, and guarantees that heating and hot water bills will not exceed a specified amount. Currently 20 builders offer the scheme on 28 sites around the country, including Linden Homes, Crest Homes and Westbury. The builders pay an insurance premium to the NES and, if the bills top the pre-set limit, NES refunds the difference to the householder. "The builders say their customers are very positive about the scheme, when they are told about it," says Nicci Griffiths of the NES, "although they rarely ask about energy efficiency in the first place. However, I can foresee a time when energy efficiency will be one of the top three priorities."

Linden is offering this scheme at its sites in Beckenham, Kent, where there are seven townhouses priced from pounds 222,000; at Reigate - two- and three-bedroom houses from pounds 125,000 to pounds 225,000; Priory Court, Cheam - two-bedroom courtyard cottages priced at pounds 129,950; and Shearwater, Cheam - three-bedroom townhouses priced from pounds 164,950 to pounds 192,950, which also have water- efficient gardens.

CALA Homes has been building energy-efficient homes for some time, although it does not offer the guarantee. "When people think of buying a larger home, they often expect to tolerate expensive running costs and fuel bills," says Robert Millar, managing director of CALA Homes (South). "This is no longer the case in today's new-build market and we adopt higher standards of insulation, together with quality construction to ensure that our new homes are highly energy-efficient".

At the company's Cedar Grove development in Radlett, Hertfordshire, one of the 11 five-bedroom houses has been awarded a top SAP rating of 100. The other 10 five-bedders all scored above 93, well above the minimum standard of 60 set by the Government and the 85 rating which most new house builders aim for. Two are left for sale, priced at pounds 860,000 and pounds 895,000.

"Our customers are particularly interested in all of the things which equate to such a good level of insulation and most of our developments have really good ratings," says CALA's Tiffany Jones. The company is also selling nine apartments and penthouses, which are all SAP-rated in the mid-nineties, at Enfield, Middlesex. The remaining large two-bedroom apartments are priced at pounds 239,950 and pounds 370,000.

Energy efficiency is not only the preserve of new homes. Older houses or flats can be made more energy efficient and can be SAP-rated. "An awareness of energy issues when looking around property is to be encouraged," says Steve Freeman of Ekins Surveyors. "The most energy- efficient properties are modern ones; anything built since 1990 will have to meet rigorous requirements and should have a good energy rating. However, those buying an older house can take plenty of steps to help increase their energy efficiency and reduce their fuel bills."

Roof insulation and cavity wall insulation make a real difference, and heating systems are critical. Condensing boilers are expensive to buy, unless your boiler needs replacing, but buying a home with one installed is good news. Thermostatic controls on radiators and on the cylinder help and, of course, double glazing is highly energy-efficient. "Even insulating your hot-water cylinder can make quite a difference at a very low cost," says Freeman. Curchods is selling a five-bedroom family house in Guildford, Surrey built in 1966, which had a new condensing boiler installed in 1998. This resulted in the gas bill being reduced by 35 per cent. The house is for sale at pounds 465,000.

Even building societies are going green and offering mortgage discounts to people prepared to improve their home in order to make it more energy- efficient. "Building societies are beginning to realise that if people have an incentive to make their homes more energy-efficient, this reduces running costs, allowing people to better afford their mortgage," says a spokesman from the Council for Energy Efficiency Development. The Norwich & Peterborough Society offers a green mortgage and the Woolwich Building Society has a package of energy-saving domestic appliances worth up to pounds 1,100.

National Energy Services (01908 672787); Council for Energy Efficiency Development (01428-654011); Ekins (0990 606090); Linden Homes (01883 744400); CALA Homes (01784 460033); Curchods (01483 458800)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why