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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own