Behind the green door. How homeowners can combat climate change
From 'carbon offsetting' mortgages to energy-saving renovations and a complete
eco-makeover, Chiara Cavaglieri looks at how homeowners can help the planet
Sunday 15 March 2009
eco-makeover, Chiara Cavaglieri looks at how homeowners can help the planet
After a week in which we've been told that global sea levels are set to rise by a metre or more before the year 2100, at almost double the rate the UN predicted only two years ago, climate change warnings are ringing loud and clear. There are a number of ways, though, in which homeowners can do their bit for the planet by reducing their carbon footprints.
Pay for your home the green way
Green mortgages usually involve the lender contributing money towards carbon offsetting, often through planting trees or donating money to environmental charities.
The biggest players are the Co-operative bank and Ecology building society, though both Norwich & Peterborough building society and the Halifax offer mortgages with at least a bit of a green tinge.
The Co-op introduced its green mortgages in 2000 and claims to have offset over 260,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions since then. For each year that a customer holds a Co-op home loan, it will make a payment to the Climate Care organisation to offset a fifth of a typical UK home's emissions. The bank also offers an "energy efficiency" loan at special rates to customers who need to borrow more to fund carbon-reducing changes to their homes.
The Ecology will only lend to properties deemed to have some kind of environmental benefit, such as renovation projects and new-builds with an ecological focus. It has also introduced a C-Change mortgage discount of 1 per cent for homeowners who want to borrow extra cash for energy-saving measures.
So how competitive are these green deals? Generally, not very. As an example, the Halifax offers a mortgage that donates 0.10 per cent of the interest rate to carbon offsetting. This deal is at a fixed rate of 4.56 per cent until 30 April 2013, comes with a fee of £995 and is available to customers with a 25 per cent deposit. It would cost £570 a month based on a £150,000 interest- only loan. By contrast, Principality building society offers a fixed rate of 4.29 per cent until 31 March 2013, for the same deposit but a much smaller fee of £499. Based on the same loan, this would cost £536 a month.
The simple truth is that while green mortgages don't necessarily offer the worst rates, they are nowhere near the "best buys". And despite predictions of a bright future, they still only make up a very small part of the market. "People think it's a nice idea," says David Hollingworth at mortgage broker London & Country, "until they see that it's more expensive."
It could be that homeowners choose to go for the best deal on the market and then fund environmental projects from their own pockets. "If carbon offsetting is a motivation," says Darren Cook at financial analyst Moneyfacts, "some people may prefer to take a cheaper mortgage and arrange a donation to a green charity".
Another option is to arrange a home loan through London & Country, which will plant 50 trees every time a customer takes out any mortgage. Meanwhile, financial adviser Ethical Investors will bear the cost of two years' worth of a home's carbon offsetting, again for any deal it arranges.
Check your home's green status
Saving energy is not just for the ethically minded. Household fuel bills account for a big chunk of our incomes and energy-efficient properties will not only save money but could also interest buyers looking for a home that won't cost the earth to run.
Prospective buyers can gain an insight into a property's green credentials by checking the energy performance certificate (EPC), which forms part of the much-maligned home information pack (HIP) that sellers are required by law to provide. The certificate uses an A to G rating to reveal how energy-efficient a home is and includes suggestions on how that grade could be improved. "Following the recommendations found on the EPC will lower your fuel bills for years to come," says Philip Sellwood, the chief executive of the Government's Energy Saving Trust.
Give your home an eco makeover
According to the trust, the average UK property falls in bands D or E. "We can all take steps to make our homes more energy efficient," says Mr Sellwood. "A lot of them simply involve a change in lifestyle and habits – like minimising waste and switching appliances off. Other options – like loft insulation and double glazing, or replacing a boiler – can be more expensive and time consuming, but in the long term they will add value to your home and lower your bills."
Research by the Energy Saving Trust has revealed that property buyers will pay an average of £3,350 extra for a home with a good energy-efficiency rating.
Debt in Britain: Numbers seeking help on how to cope with mounting bills goes up by more than half in three years
Bargain Hunter: BT improves its mobile reception with 'incredibly competitive' deals
Offset your mortgage and save thousands
How to keep down the costs of your child's private education
Simon Read: 'It went below the radar but you could be eligible for a tax break on your savings'
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 5 WrestleMania 31 results: Seth Rollins stuns WWE as he cashes in Money in the Bank contract to claim title from Brock Lesnar
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station