When you come to move home or buy your first there is always a choice between buying an older property or a new build. Each has advantages. Existing properties of a certain age have greater charm in many ways, and also tend to be more spacious. New-build properties benefit from modern fixtures, fittings and building techniques and materials. They also tend to be more energy efficient.
Energy efficiency may seem something of a buzzword in the housing market these days but in fact it plays a major part in the buying and selling of homes. In the article that follows we look at the importance of energy efficiency, the Energy Performance Certificate, and what you need to consider when buying a home.
Why Energy Efficiency is Important
We’ll begin by saying that energy efficiency is not important, it is vital. We all have a basic duty to help the environment as the damage that has been done is overwhelming. We can do this by fitting energy-efficient appliances and even smaller fitments such as light bulbs, but when building a home there is a lot that can be done to add efficiency to the fabric of the building itself.
The most wasteful household systems in terms of energy are heating, lighting and electricity, and the hot water supply. We can also add older less efficient appliances such as fridges and freezers, washing machines and dryers, white goods which you more than likely want to get a long life from.
Improvements in manufacturing, in technology and in the construction industry as a whole have led to modern homes being automatically more energy efficient than those from just twenty or so years ago. There is also a legal requirement when selling most homes – and indeed when building them – that the building is given an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as issued with regard to government and industry regulations. Let’s talk in more detail about the EPC and how the rating is assessed.
About the EPC
The EPC is a legal requirement for most homes in the UK. There are some exemptions but in general if you are building, selling or buying a home it needs to have an up-to-date EPC. The procedure for assessing a building for an EPC is one that is carried out by an officially trained and registered Energy Assessor. This individual will visit the property and examine the following features of the house:
- Insulation in the loft, cavity walls and floors.
- The domestic boiler used in the home.
- Hot water tanks.
- Radiators and heating system.
- Heating controls.
- Windows, doors and other entrances/exits.
- Other factors that may influence energy usage.
With the likes of heating systems and controls the assessor will ‘score’ the home in terms of how effective and up to date these systems are, the same applying to the boiler. For the insulation issues they are looking at the level of insulation in place, and for doors and windows the score will be for double or other glazing and also modern fittings.
The information gathered is input into a software package on a computer, which calculates both an energy efficiency score and an environmental impact score. The software will also provide an estimate of costs for improvement.
The householder will also be given a table of estimated energy bills for an assumed year, but it should be noted that this does not consider the actual bills. Furthermore, as the software is limited it will make some assumptions with regard to the age and type of building which may not consider additional efforts by the homeowner. In this case written proof of, for example, insulation improvements may allow the assessor to manually override some areas of the score.
The EPC will be ranked on a scale of A to G, where A is the most efficient. A home with zero net carbon emissions will score an A. The score is based on a comparison between the property being assessed when in use with its occupants with a similar one as a reference point. What has this to do with buying a new property?
The Advantages of Buying New
A new property – no matter the size or type – will be built with energy efficiency in mind and also to the requirements of a high-scoring EPC. The building will be constructed with insulation in the walls, roof and floors as part of the build process. With older properties insulation – by and large – will have been an afterthought.
New homes will also include the latest and most efficient window and door systems. These may also include insulation built into the structure and will also score highly where security is concerned. Energy efficient heating systems will be the latest and most appropriate models, as will all aspects of the hot water system.
All of this adds up to expenditure you may need to make to bring an older home up to scratch with regard to the EPC. Building regulations now insist that properties are built to a better standard than ever before, thus you get the guarantee of a well-built, efficient home in which to live.
The benefits don’t stop there as such a home will be cheaper to run than a less efficient example. With less heat wasted you pay only for what you use, and the advances in modern window systems and heating designs mean a house such as that described will require only a minimum of energy spent on it even in the winter months.
Energy efficient homes benefit everyone. By using less energy you require less in the way of fossil fuels to be burned and save money while helping the environment. A fitted kitchen and bathroom will come with up-to-date energy-efficient appliances, too.
There are many reasons in addition to those listed above that make a newly built home a sensible decision, and we hope this article has inspired you to look into this option further.