With autumn in full swing, we can probably all admit that we’ve reached for the thermostat on more than one occasion already. But are there alternative ways to keep ourselves toasty during the winter?
In 2019, the UK amended their 2050 target from reducing emissions by 80%, to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gases. This means that emissions need to be balanced. Using technology such as carbon capture and storage, or planting more trees, it helps level out the amount of greenhouses gasses captured and produced. But one of the fundamental changes needed to reach this ‘net zero’ goal, is down to the way we build and run our UK property.
What can we do?
What defines an ‘Eco Home’?
There are many names for these types of properties – ‘eco homes’ ‘sustainable housing’ ‘environmentally friendly homes’ – but they all have one key focus. They’re designed and constructed in a way that minimises their impact on the environment.
Key elements of sustainable living
Reducing emissions from building a property can be done in a variety of ways. Even the smallest actions can hold significant changes:
- By utilising locally sourced materials, housebuilders can massively reduce the amount of transportation and fuel used.
- Installing new technologies can lessen the building’s carbon emissions.
Overall, an eco-home should improve the asset’s energy efficiency.
However, a sustainable house doesn’t need to contain all the above factors to be classified as eco-friendly. The number of elements installed is up to the property owner but implementing a variety will help maximise efficiency.
If you’re looking to improve the sustainability of your property by including any of these potential elements but may need additional funding, then why not check out our refurbishment loans here to see how we can help.
Small changes you can make
For landlords in particular, having a higher Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating is a great way to spark interest amongst potential tenants. Renters are grateful for any property benefits that reduce additional costs to themselves such as utility bills. A more efficient property can increase resale value by as much as 14%.
Potential buyers are also becoming more environmentally aware, so installing eco-friendly materials and technologies could improve interest for property investors. Elements such as double or triple glazing, solar panels, a heat pump, or a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system (MVHR) can be great selling points. It allows the buyer to feel they are getting more for their money in long term savings, whilst minimising their impact on the environment.
Implementing smart home technology for tenants can also be a great way to reduce and manage the amount of energy used. Using smartphones to control temperature and operate lights is also quickly becoming a popular method. By the end of March 2020, the government data shows 21.5 million smart and advanced meters are now in operation across the UK. Small businesses are responsible for 17.3 million of these, as many have started using smart systems to control their energy usage.
Larger scale projects
Refurbishment loans are to become the most common by the end of this year, as they are estimated to result in 22% of loans. Investors of property should be looking to include these environmental elements in future refurbishment projects. Improving energy efficiency to attract buyers is an eco-friendly way to help increase property resale value – as mentioned above.
Most common techniques used include increasing the amount of insulation or enhancing door seals to provide draught-proofing. But there are other ways you can add value whilst creating a more environmental-friendly property:
1. Rainwater harvesting relates to the collection of wasted water from the roof. This is stored and then re-used across the property – both in the home and garden. It can reduce the water bill and provides a more sustainable way of living.
2. People are looking to spend more time in their homes due to the increase of working from home. Homebuyers are therefore looking for larger properties that create an open and bright feeling. Installing larger windows to increase the amount of natural light in a property is good way to reduce energy used for lighting. However, ensuring windows are double or triple glazed is fundamental to this. The natural light can also help enhance the feeling of the property being quite spacious, particularly against paler painted walls. A great bonus feature for potential buyers.
3. Heating recovery ventilation systems extract the moist and warmer air from the house – mainly bathrooms and kitchens – and uses this to warm the fresh air coming in. It then evenly distributes this air throughout the key areas of the house, such as sitting rooms and bedrooms. Simultaneously, it ventilates the stale air, originally collected, back outside. By utilising the collected heat, it reduces the amount of wasted energy, whilst evenly spreading fresh air readily at room temperature across the property.
Green Home Grant
To help Britain reach it’s 2050 target, this government scheme aims to assist households in improving their energy efficiency. Currently available until the end of March 2021, homeowners and landlords can receive vouchers to install new elements that will reduce household waste and improve efficiency.
For landlords looking to refurbish their BTL or HMO properties, this could be the perfect time to increase their EPC level. Tenants can be willing to pay more for an economical and environmentally conscious property.
There are primary and secondary measures in place and to be legible for the grant, at least one primary measure must be installed. This includes:
- Insulation (solid wall, cavity, under-floor, loft, flat roof, pitched roof, room in roof)
- Low carbon heat (air or ground source heat pump, solar thermal, biomass boiler, hybrid heat pump)
Additional secondary measures you can apply for are:
- Windows & doors (draught proofing, double/triple glazing)
- Heating controls & insulation (hot water tank thermostat and insulation, controls)
Government contributions will be given in vouchers and can as much as £5,000 per home. Those in need of additional support – if you, or someone in your household, receives certain benefits – can receive up to £10,000.
If you’re considering refurbishing your property and need works to start imminently, then a fast bridging loan may be a good solution. With people looking to spend considerably more time indoors over the next couple of months, the desire to refurbish is starting to spike. Construction work is still permitted during lockdown 2.0, so utilising this time to refurbish vacant properties or commercial buildings may be a good way forward. Commercial properties can also be converted into residential assets or refurbished in a way that actively promotes energy efficiency.
To speak to our underwriters about a refurbishment loan, click here. You can expect a response within 4 hours.