Reducing carbon emissions from properties has been at the forefront of the UK’s agenda of late, due in part to the recent G7 summit in early June and the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference UK (COP26) to be held in Glasgow later this year.

On the back of the government having announced a £270 million Green Heat Network Fund to support low-carbon heating in England, it’s clear that prospective home buyers are increasingly demanding more energy-efficient homes.

According to the UK Green Building Council, currently, the built environment contributes to around 40 per cent of the UK’s total carbon footprint. This pushes the heating of buildings to the top of the list if the UK is to achieve its goal of net zero by 2050. Existing homes and businesses will also be subject to stricter requirements for replacements and repairs.

Greater energy efficient properties

Sustainability is becoming a priority for UK home buyers

There has been a big upturn in the volume of house hunters wanting to live in more sustainable homes, which offer a variety of eco features, from hi-tech insulation to heat source pumps. Findings from a recent independent study indicated that 61 per cent of home buyers are prioritising how energy efficient a property’s heating and fixtures are when looking for a new home.

One in three of 270 households asked about ‘eco-homes’ stated that they want their new home to be constructed sustainably. 44 per cent would like their new home to provide environmentally friendly resources, including renewable energy systems, recycling and food waste disposal.

Sustainability means minimising the environmental impact of all aspects of construction, including material sourcing, water consumption, site management, building energy usage and waste removal.

‘Eco-homes’ which follow key sustainable design principles, aim to improve energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality for occupants, as well as reducing the environmental damage caused by the construction of the building. The urgent requirement for adequate housing in the UK makes it essential for construction practices to become more sustainable in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions whilst also responding to increased demand.

Housebuilders are becoming increasingly eco-aware

UK housebuilders are trying to incorporate as many environmentally-friendly features when planning and building a new residential development. There is now a greater emphasis on the EPC certification for a property, and developers are finding innovative ways to build homes that are more energy-efficient and cost less to run.

Currently, the global construction industry currently uses 40% of the world’s energy supply

Over the last 10 years, the demand for new-build housing has remained consistent. Many of the things expected in new builds such as double or even triple-glazed windows, insulated walls, roofs, and doors, and energy-efficient heating are all common in new-build properties.

Within the next three years, 58 per cent of current renters plan to become first-time buyers and around half of existing homeowners (47%) are looking to buy a new property.

As property buyers ventured to move during and post lockdown, other priorities arose for people looking to move. The new work from home culture has led to buyers needing more flexible live/work space and access to either a garden or nearby green space.

Lenders starting to offer financial incentives for ‘eco-borrowers’

Following the interest in sustainability, a number of companies are already offering attractive financial products for prospective homeowners willing to go green.

Notably, several lenders are promoting the buying and modernising of property to be more eco- friendly, and these are reflected in the deals available for properties with a better EPC rating. For example, Nationwide is offering a £500 cashback for properties with an EPC of 92 or above (this is on top of any other cashback on their mortgage product). NatWest is taking a similar approach, with £350 cashback (on max. 85 per cent LTV mortgages) when opting for a ‘Green Mortgage’.

Older property owners receive no incentive to go green

Whilst these can go some way to helping a buyer of a newer, more efficient property, those looking to buy an older property won’t get sufficient help to cover enough the costs of improvements for a less energy efficient property. Schemes such as the government’s Green Deal grant have been plagued with problems. Right now there is little financial help out there for anyone wanting to make their older property more eco-efficient and reduce their home’s carbon foot print.

As more people will continue to work from home, it’s inevitable that UK domestic energy consumption will continue to rise significantly. This, in addition to the predicted hike in utility prices and higher household bills, is likely to make many consider how energy-efficient a property is when they come to move home.