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.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Ethan Couch: Texas quadruple murderer – or a victim of ‘affluenza’?
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Implementation...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
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 Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.