Being eco-friendly is something that’s becoming increasingly important to more people around the world, and change starts at home – even more so when it comes to buying a property.
There are various ways that someone can make sustainable choices that lessen the impact on the planet and buying a property with a lower carbon footprint is one that can make significant strides towards an eco-friendlier lifestyle.
With this in mind, how can contractors prioritise the environment when buying a property, while also balancing the difficulties of paying for a mortgage with an irregular income?
The benefits of eco-friendly construction
Operational and maintenance costs account for a huge proportion of the total running costs of a building over the course of its lifetime, and as energy prices increase, these bills will only become larger and more difficult to pay.
Using green initiatives, on the other hand, is an effective way of reducing running costs when it comes to water and energy, with the added bonus of doing less harm to the planet. According to a study by E.ON Energy, 81% of Gen Z and 74% of Millennials would be willing to pay more for a property if it came with a sustainable energy solution, such as EV chargers or a heat pump.
Green building processes, whether it’s implementing renewable energy systems, using recyclable materials or using fewer processes that emit carbon emissions, can help to slow the pace of climate change and are more economically efficient which is better for the homeowner.
What to look for when buying an eco-friendly home
There are several things that contractors can look for when buying an eco-friendly property, which will not only help to bring the carbon footprint of the individual down but can also make running and maintaining the home more affordable too.
Look for a green mortgage lender
The first step actually takes place prior to buying the home and that’s seeking a green mortgage. There are specialist lenders around the UK who deal with mortgages for eco properties.
Eco properties are often made from environmentally friendly materials such as timber, recycled plastics or insulated panels. Because these materials fall under the category of unusual construction, it can make getting a mortgage more difficult – something that can already be tougher for contractors.
Working with lenders who deal in mortgages for these types of properties can put your mind at ease that you’ll have the funds to buy your dream eco property when you find it.
Consider the building materials used
The very structure of the property is a good indicator of how eco-friendly your home will be, so the materials used shouldn’t be neglected. Recycled materials, such as salvaged materials or reclaimed wood, as well as those which encourage sustainable energy such as bamboo or precast concrete, have a lower environmental impact and can help to reduce your energy consumption.
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What’s the EPC grade?
When you’re buying any property, but particularly an eco-home, the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is vital. This grade tells you the level of CO2 emissions the property produces, and each property is graded from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient.
When looking for an eco-home, you want the EPC rating to be higher to ensure that your home won’t bring your overall carbon footprint down or increase your utility bills. The average grading for most properties in the UK is D, but the government is creating measures to encourage property owners to increase their EPC rating as a way of helping the UK reach its net-zero targets.
Choose insulated properties
Insulation is a key component of an environmentally friendly property as it’s one of the most effective ways to lower your energy use and combat the effects of climate change. In particular, a home with loft insulation can help you to save money on your energy bills and helps you to regulate the heat in your home more effectively. If the insulation is made from eco-friendly materials, such as cellulose, the property will gain even more green points.
Be mindful of landscaping
Eco-friendly homes extend beyond the internal fixtures and fittings. The surrounding area can also be tailored to sustainable efforts. For example, does the home you’re considering feature xeriscaping? This type of landscaping uses drought-resistant plants and grasses which means you’ll need less water to nourish the garden.
Or maybe your lawn is made from synthetic grass, which can be considered a greener option since it doesn’t require water to stay green. Likewise, are the patio areas or walkways covered with eco-friendly materials such as wood chips or mulch? These features can help to make your home more environmentally friendly and easier to maintain.
What’s the energy source?
Another feature to look out for when choosing an eco-property is renewable energy systems in place. Does the property have a heat pump, a biomass boiler or solar panels? These are investments worth making when you move into the property, but finding a home with them already in place can help to bring your carbon emissions down and saves you money on your utility bills, as well as saving you money on the initial investment of having them installed.
Renewable energy is a key component of an environmentally friendly home, and it should be a feature to look out for when browsing for a property if sustainability is a priority for you.
Buying an eco-friendly home requires consideration of several factors, from the way the property is built and how easily it can be maintained without reliance on fossil fuels to the lender you choose to fund your purchase.
As a contractor, cost is something that needs to be factored into your property purchase too – the more eco-friendly a home is, the cheaper it can be to maintain and that puts less pressure on contractors who may be dealing with an irregular income from month to month.
by Nathan Howells