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Making the UK’s homes greener and more energy efficient is an essential step in mitigating the UK’s contribution to climate change. Creating energy-efficient houses can not only help combat climate change, it could also means we need less energy to power and heat our homes.
🕑 8 minute read
Newly built homes are designed to meet certain standards of energy efficiency. But you can do your bit whatever kind of property you call home – not just to help the planet, but to save on bills too. Read on to find out more about the green housing revolution.
What counts as a green home?
A green home should meet the requirements set out in the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) rating. These ratings are ranked on a scale of A-E. On this scale, a green home is one that’s ranked C or above. This means the builders, homeowners and landlords have taken the necessary steps to make the property as energy efficient as possible.
A green rating not only increases a property’s value but from 2025, landlords won’t be able to let out properties rated D or below. It means there’s never been a better time to try to increase a property’s EPC rating and turn it into a greener home.
Source: Rightmove (PDF 9.7 MB)
While most builds focus on adding energy-efficient tweaks to fairly conventional designs, there are a number of bold approaches happening around the world and closer to home which are redefining ‘green’.
If you want to find out how green your home is right now then try our Home Energy Saving Tool.
Examples of renewable green homes
One of the key measurements of the EPC rating is the carbon footprint. A carbon neutral build produces zero CO2 emissions – it can even be carbon-negative. This is achieved by using renewables like solar panels to power the home and building it to be as energy efficient as possible.
Passivhaus design is a set of standards that new builds follow to make the most of passive heat sources like the sun, as well as clever use of insulation and ventilation. A house built to meet the Passivhaus Standard can be comfortable all year round. Because it won’t drive up energy bills to keep at a comfortable temperature, it’s thought to reduce carbon emissions by 80%.
How to build green
Developers who design and build green homes consider lots of different aspects of the process including where materials are sourced and how much carbon emissions the build itself will produce. The following will all be taken into consideration during the build, to make the finished property as energy efficient as possible:
These are just some of the things designers and developers consider when building green homes, to allow future occupants the chance to live comfortably while lowering their carbon footprint – and their energy bills.
Steps you can take to make your home greener
Homeowners in conventional builds may not have the budget to bring their homes up to Passivhaus standards, but there’s always a way to make your home ‘greener’ and more energy efficient.
How to increase the energy efficiency of your home
Source: Energy Saving Trust
As well as these larger jobs, there are smaller things you can do to make a positive change.
Source: Ideal Home
Applying for assistance
There are a few schemes providing financial assistance for making energy-saving improvements to homes. Take a look at our Discounted Home Improvement article.
The Energy Company Obligation scheme is an agreement between local councils and energy suppliers to improve the EPC of homes by carrying out insulation work and upgrades to boilers and heating systems. If you’re claiming benefits and live in private housing, or live in social housing, get in touch with your housing provider to discuss your options, or contact the energy supplier directly.
Households that install solar panels will benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Under the scheme, energy suppliers must pay customers for the excess energy they’re sending to the grid via their solar panels. A three-bedroom home that has installed a 3.99 kWp solar panel could earn £112 per year. That’s not much of a dent on the average cost of installing solar panels (£6,500 according to the Energy Saving Trust), but you’ll also be saving money on your energy bills.
Source: Money Saving Expert
Does making your house greener increase its value?
Research shows that certain green home improvements added a lot of value to a property. Draught-proofing a home, despite costing just £200 on average, is thought to add more than £3,200 in value. Installing an electric vehicle charging point, meanwhile, costs £800 but adds £2,636.
While there’s some good value in adding these things to your home, they can be expensive. Solar panels, for example, require significant investment that will take years to recoup.
There’s also apparently limited increase in value if you’re selling a home that’s EPC-rated A or B. The premium on price is under 2% when compared to a D-rated home.
Thinking of these improvements as more of an investment in going green rather than a money-saving solution might be the way forward.
For homeowners, that means carrying out improvements where budget allows, and potentially investing in larger projects if the aim is to increase value for a future sale.
If you’re a landlord, it might be good to know that a November 2021 survey says many tenants would pay more rent to live in a greener home. A third of renters would pay 5% more rent, while 8% would consider a one-fifth increase in their rent.
The rise of the ‘green lease’ shows that landlords and tenants are willing to work together for a greener cause.
Take a look at our article for more about the steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient.
Updated March 2023