Climate change is to the fore these days and we’re all looking for ways to reduce our energy use, saving us money as well as helping the planet. Buying a house with low-carbon energy options is an ideal way to achieve this.
Future-proofing properties so that they offer reduced energy use and low running costs both now and in the years to come can make a lot of sense.
This country doesn’t have many developments along the lines of the Swedish Trivselhus and German Passivhus – energy-efficient homes that are sustainably built, with eco-friendly technologies that keeps properties warm and bills low.
But UK housebuilders are constructing homes with leading energy-efficiency standards, while owners of older properties are retro-fitting fixtures such as solar panels* and domestic wind turbines, all with the aim of reducing reliance on fossil fuels and harnessing cleaner and greener ways of producing energy.
The Government is lending a helping hand too with its Renewable Heat Incentive which could see quarterly cash payments to house-holders who install eligible renewable heating technology, such as biomass boilers, solar panels* and certain heat pumps. There’s also the Green Deal which helps you make energy-saving improvements to your home including draught-proofing, wall and loft insulation and double glazing.
So what sorts of energy-saving devices should you look for when considering a property?
“If you’re considering buying a property with an integrated kitchen, it would be a real bonus for you if the white goods had a good energy rating,” said Lyndsey Taylor, Branch Manager at The Cumberland.
“This means they would use less energy, thus reducing your bills.
“The most energy-efficient appliances – such as fridges, freezers, washing machines, ovens and so on – are rated A+++ with G being the least efficient.”
Many properties coming onto the market have solar panels* and wood-fuelled biomass stoves, while air source and ground source heat pumps are also becoming more common, the latter being particularly suited to properties with large gardens.
*When you view a property with solar panels, it’s important to check whether they are owned or leased. If they are subject to a lease, the acting solicitor will be required to check the lease to ensure that there are no onerous terms & conditions which could impact the value of the property. If they are owned, please refer to the additional information included at the end of this blog post.
A gas condensing combi boiler can be cheaper to run than older non-condensing models and, of course, if not already fitted then double glazing is one of the most popular and cost-effective improvements you can carry out to your home.
Lynsey added: “You should also ensure that you have no draughts in your house through which heat can escape and that the chimneys in older houses are capped if not in use.
“LED or halogen lights throughout the house, coupled with dimmer switches, can make a difference to your carbon footprint and don’t forget that the majority of vehicles sold after 2030 will be electric so a driveway for a charging point will be useful.”
We’ve picked four eco-homes with a variety of energy-saving features and shared why we think they’re worth considering.
If you want a country escape….
Bramley Dene, Uppertown, Kirklinton
While it doesn’t seem groundbreaking, double glazing can easily up the eco credentials of any period home. Adding solar PV panels and thermal hot water panels can also go some way in helping reduce your carbon footprint too.
But fast forward 300 years and Bramley Dene’s long-ago occupants might struggle to recognise their former farmhouse, stable block and byre which have been transformed into an impressive country home.
The large property has double glazing throughout, solar PV panels and thermal hot water panels alongside retained character features such as original Jarrah wood floors and a hall with exposed sandstone walls and flagstone floors.
There are five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a floored attic and plenty of outdoor space providing extensive parking, terracing, gardens and an orchard.
For sale at £450,000 from C&D Rural
If you want a beautiful bathroom and kitchen…
Holly Cottage, Clawthorpe, Carnforth
You may be able to change the house but you can’t change the village or the views. Even when you’re looking for a more eco-friendly home, all the same specifications still apply.
It’s also close to a primary school, pub, restaurant and shops in Burton-in-Kendal so no need for feeling as though you’re way out in the sticks.
And although literally a country cottage, Holly Cottage is a contemporary delight, with large rooms and grounds accessed via a cedar-clad electric sliding gate.
The four-piece bathroom and a separate shower room have underfloor heating, the kitchen is a cook’s dream, there is high-quality flooring in all rooms and outside is an impressive carport.
“If you want a home in the country you sometimes have to trade modernity for a rather more basic way of living but that’s not the case here,” said Lyndsey Taylor.
“This property has a wealth of luxurious features and the added benefit of solar panels.”
For sale at £350,000 from ThomsonHaytonWinkley
If you want minimal running costs…
The Hawthorns, Gretna
Never judge a book by its cover. Or in this instance, a house on it’s external appearance. Especially if living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle is at the top of your priorities. What may be lacking in kerb appeal could be more than made up for with lower living costs.
This has created an airtight shell with an efficient ventilation and heat recovery system said to offer minimal running costs, with triple-glazed and sealed windows and doors limiting heat loss.
Although the property does not require heating, underfloor heating in the kitchen and heated towel rails up the cosiness quota.
The roof has 14 photo-voltaic panels producing cheap electricity, with 17 years left to run on the feed-in tariff, and there is an electric charging point in the garage.
This house, in a small development of similar properties, is classed as having zero carbon emissions and is A-rated in its Energy Performance Certificate.
For sale at £249,500 from C&D Rural
If you’re looking for The Cumberland’s property of the week…
Rawlinson End, Lazonby Row, Glasson
It has an open-plan living area flooded with light from the many windows and Velux roof windows, with views over surrounding fields.
Lyndsey Taylor said: “This house is A-rated for council tax and carbon negative so you can be sure that the majority of bills will be low.
“It has an array of solar panels with 15 years remaining on the feed-in tariff, so you burnish your eco-credentials too.”
The central heating and hot water system run from a combination of wood burning stove with integrated boiler and oil-fired range cooker, which can be run independently or together.
The woodburner feeds the heating circuit to reclaimed cast-iron radiators throughout the house and when used on its own, the range cooker will provide hot water as well as heating the living end of the house.
Why is this The Cumberland’s property of the week?
Lyndsey Taylor said: “Rawlinson End is a fantastic family home with comfortable living space, the option of a home office, a garden with vegetable plots and a lovely position.
“Its environmental-friendly features only add to its attractions and the lowest council tax rating is a real bonus.”
For sale at £250,000 from Tiffen & Co
*If you’re purchasing a property where solar panels are owned, the acting solicitor will need to:
- confirm that all relevant legal consents required for the installation and operation of the equipment have been obtained (e.g. planning permission, buildings consent, listed buildings consent, restrictive covenant permission and any title permissions);
- where the property is leasehold, confirm the relevant consents have been obtained from the landlord/block manager/residential committee where appropriate; and
- obtain a copy of:
- a Building Regulation Approval for the installation, including a written report from a Chartered Building Surveyor or Structural Engineer that the roof structure, or other supporting structure, is able to accommodate the installation and imposed additional live and dead loadings without deformation; or
- a written certification from the installer of their membership of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and relevant Competent Persons Scheme.
- keep the equipment insured, including insurance against liability for any damage caused to the property or injury to any person which arises from the operation of the equipment; and inform your buildings insurance company of the installation of the equipment and comply with any additional requirements of your buildings insurance company.
Finding out how much you’re able to borrow will give you a clearer understanding of the price range of homes you can start searching for.