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How to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly

How do you make your house ‘Eco-Friendly?’

Research has shown that eco-friendly homes sell for an average of around £17,000 more than conventional homes. And a study in Washington D.C. between 2008 and 2013 revealed that properties with eco-friendly measures sold 23% more than standard properties. Apart from doing your bit for the environment, making your home eco-friendly could be a cost-effective move — adding significant value to your property in a relatively short space of time.

But with an ever-increasing choice of eco-friendly technologies on the market, which are the most effective at adding value? Whether a homeowner or investor, here are a few tips for making ‘eco-friendly homes.’

1. Eco-friendly homes – Insulate your loft

A cheap and effective way to preserve heat in your home is to insulate your loft. The more heat you can stop from escaping, the less energy your property will consume — saving you a considerable sum on your energy bills along the way. Heat rises, so it makes sense to trap it at the highest point in your home. And at an average installation cost of between £250 and £350 for a standard house, this is probably the first measure you should take.

2. Install a water butt

The average garden hose pipe can deliver up to 1000 litres of water every hour, depleting precious water reserves during the drier months of the year, leaving a significant carbon footprint — an enormous amount of energy is needed to process drinking water. By installing a water butt in your garden, you can collect rainwater throughout the year and use it on your lawn, plants, trees and shrubs. With a water butt, rainwater diverter and a pump, you can slash your home’s water consumption in a day.

3. Block draughts

Blocking draughts is another relatively cheap and straightforward measure you can take to preserve heat and energy. Search your property for draughts, whether they’re in chimneys, under doors or around windows. In some cases, the draughts may be a result of poor quality or substandard materials. To maximise your home’s efficiency, you might want to arrange a building pressurisation test, which assesses how airtight your property is, and the exact location of leaks.

Among the other areas where heat may be escaping include:

  • Skirting boards
  • Electrical outlets
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Vents
  • Fans
  • Loft hatches
  • Floors

4. Install solar panels

Many eco-friendly houses will have solar panels, as electricity is an expensive energy source, so better to get it free, if possible! The ideal roof for a solar panel is south facing with a pitch of between 30 and 45 degrees. If your home is hooked up to solar energy, it uses a higher percentage of renewable energy than a home that isn’t. Crucially, this means you aren’t using as much electricity from the National Grid, so your energy bills should fall substantially. In fact, there’s a chance you could actually “sell” energy to the Grid – using eco-friendly homes actually to generate money.

The prospect of significantly lower-than-average energy bills for a home’s lifetime is often attractive for house buyers, which drives up the open market price.

5. Insulate your walls

The walls in your home may be the single biggest source of heat loss. According to Haringey Council in London, around 35 percent of heat loss in the average residential is through the walls. Fix this by having cavity wall insulation installed, which involves drilling small holes in the property’s exterior — through which is pumped insulating foam. Substantial home improvements like insulation can add value to your home.

6. Install energy-efficient windows

The windows in a home are always one of the most significant sources of heat loss. Drastically reduce the loss of heat from windows by installing energy-efficient, double-glazed windows throughout your property. Storm windows, for instance, reduce air leakage through a combination of weather-stripping and caulking. A range of different coverings and treatments can also protect against heat loss.

Except for installing solar panels, none of these changes is particularly expensive for making eco-friendly homes; but combined, energy efficiency measures are ways to increase your property’s market value.

Energy Efficiency measures could increase the value of your home

How can energy efficiency measures increase the value of my property?

Energy efficiency measures can positively impact the value of your home. The constant impetus behind energy efficiency, the cutting of CO2 emissions and the spectre of climate change are all factors forcing homeowners and builders to strive for improvements in energy-saving measures continually.

Cutting annual fuel bills for ordinary households in the UK, such action could be increasing house values across the country. The steadily rising energy prices are forcing many people to look for ways of cutting bills, and a home that is already equipped to deliver such savings will usually be very attractive to buyers.

Evidence suggests energy efficiency measures are having a positive effect on property values

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), now part of Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, some key energy efficiency improvements to home have the potential to increase net property values by up to an average of 14 per cent in the UK. However, that figure has been proven to be as high as 39 per cent in some areas of England. According to the DECC, a home that can upgrade its Energy Performance Certificate by two bands can add on average more than £16,000 to its property valuation – but a home in the northeast of England could increase its market value by an astonishing £25,000!

As climate change initiatives start to get more challenging for governments – and as the cost of energy continues to rise – it seems more than likely that pressure on householders to cut their energy use will increase. It appears that an excellent energy efficiency rating has become a significant contributing factor to property prices in the UK, and its influence will probably only grow over the coming decades.

The government is, in part, responsible for the drive towards domestic-fuel efficiency. Their Green Deal is helping people to make energy efficiency improvements to their home for a fraction of the market cost. Some householders qualify for free or subsidised energy efficient boilers, cavity wall insulation and solar panels, and that financial help is helping many property owners to increase the value of their home.

While the cost of installing double-glazed windows and other fuel efficiency measures may seem prohibitive to some homeowners, such improvements considered an investment for the future, the potential fuel savings over ten years are enormous compared to the initial outlay. But perhaps more significantly, homeowners can add a premium to their property valuation by ensuring its EPC certificate places it in the first three grades of energy efficiency (A, B or C).

Rises in house prices make energy efficiency measures worth the expense

On the face of it, ensuring a home is energy efficient is an expensive prospect. However, the full benefit of improvements in energy efficiency ratings needs measuring in the context of 10 years. A ground source heat pump, for instance, extracts warmth from under the ground and transfers it to a home’s heating system. At the cost of £9,000, this represents just £900 per year. With government subsidies and the subsequent savings on energy bills, this is a relatively small annual cost. Solar panels cost around £5,000 for the average house, and a biomass burner installed for less than £12,000. Compared to the potential rises in property prices purported by the DECC, the cost of these improvements makes sound economic sense.

Whether you believe that climate change is man-made or not, there is no escaping the fact that property values in the UK are being affected by the cost of energy and government-sponsored efficiency schemes. Your house is not only a home; it is an investment that needs considering. If you improve beyond the minimum energy efficiency standards for your home now, you could reap the rewards in the future.

“How energy efficiency measures can increase property values” is brought to you by Flying Homes.

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