Save energy while you wait for the ultra green house
All new properties will soon be emission-free, writes Esther Shaw. Meanwhile, you can take your own steps to save the planet
Sunday 17 June 2007
It's official: going green can be stressful. In a recent report assessing people's attitudes to environmental issues, the not-for-profit lobby group Energy Saving Trust (EST) discovered that three-quarters of respondents felt a growing pressure to change the way they live to reduce emissions.
It also found that more than half the UK population recognise a real link between the energy they use at home and climate change.
But now, it seems, the architects will help them to be greener. In the wake of the 2006 pre-Budget report, in which Gordon Brown set out the Government's aim to make all new homes "zero-carbon" by 2016, housing minister Yvette Cooper gave her stamp of approval last week to the first British house to achieve a "zero carbon" status. It could save the owners £800 a year in bills.
The two-bed property uses renewable-energy technology, solar panelling and state-of-the-art insulation to keep the environmental impact to an absolute minimum.
It also includes a biomass boiler and a wind-catcher to ensure ventilation during the summer months.
The property, yet to be priced commercially, has attained a "carbon neutral" certificate, which means purchasers will be exempt from stamp duty. The Government hopes it will be the first of a new generation of homes that will form specially designed "eco towns".
"A quarter of emissions come from our homes," says Ms Cooper. "That's why zero-carbon houses are so important. We need a revolution in the way we design and build our homes."
While government initiatives such as this are a step in the right direction, there are measures you can take yourself in the meantime to improve the efficiency of your home . "It's extremely easy to waste energy without even thinking about it," says an EST spokes- woman. "Making small changes to your daily life can dramatically lower the amount of energy you use."
While you may be put off by the initial cost of implementing some of the measures detailed in the graphic above, the Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all provide grants to help you carry out improvements such as changing a boiler and insulating the loft. And ultimately you will reap the benefits in lower bills.
You don't have to be a low earner to qualify - most grants are available to any household. For more details, go to www.est.org.uk/ myhome/gid.
EST findings also show that the message is starting to get through: nearly a fifth more households have installed efficient "condensing" boilers compared with the same time last year. Many households also claim to have five or six energy-saving lightbulbs.
Additionally, nearly seven out of 10 people now believe that properties boasting energy-saving features command a premium. Almost half would be willing to pay an extra £5,000 to £10,000 for a green house, the EST found, on the basis that good insulation, double-glazing and boilers, for example, will be more attractive to buyers.
It's also worth noting that when the new home information packs are finally introduced for four-bed properties on 1 August, they will have to contain an "energy performance certificate."
While the packs, designed to speed up the housing chain, have been dogged by U-turns and vociferous criticism, the green element has been welcomed. The certificates will rate homes on a scale of A to G according to their efficiency.
Cost of Living: Inflation reined in by falling energy prices
Inflation edged down to 2.5 per cent in May, its second monthly decline in a row.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the consumer price inflation index (CPI) fell from 2.8 per cent in April.
Lower bills for gas and electricity lay behind the easing inflationary pressure, the ONS said, as well as lower food prices - particularly for vegetables and meat - and cheaper clothing and footwear.
The fall in the cost of living will bring relief to the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, which has raised interest rates four times since August 2006 in an effort to get a grip on rising prices.
In March, inflation nudged 3.1 per cent - the highest level since the Bank took charge of setting rates in 1997.
This prompted a letter from Governor Mervyn King (pictured) to Chancellor Gordon Brown to explain why the 2 per cent inflation target had been exceeded to such an extent.
It was the first time the Bank had been obliged to do this. A letter of explanation is only necessary when the CPI either under- or overshoots the target by more than a whole percentage point.
Last month the Bank hiked the base rate up to 5.5 per cent, and in a speech last Monday, Mr King argued that the Bank may have to raise rates again unless consumers and companies slow their spending.
There is widespread speculation that the cost of borrowing will go up again this year - possibly as high as 6 per cent before the end of 2007.
For many homeowners on variable-rate mortgage deals, such as base rate trackers, this could translate into an extra £40 a month for a £150,000 home loan.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Questions of Cash: What are my rights if my leak is caused by neighbours’ roofs?
Pension mortgages: 'The advice I was given was wrong and now I face losing my home'
You'll need £220,000 for a minimum wage in your retirement
Mark Dampier: Maybe boom, maybe bust, but we'll probably just muddle along
Your money: Let’s hope for a fairer, more honest 2015
- 1 The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 4 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 5 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
iJobs Money & Business
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...
Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
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
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
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
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens