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

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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
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 Money & Business

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

    £18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

    £50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?