Thursday 14 October 2010 8:14 pm

Being eco-friendly can make you richer

YOU may think that making your home eco-friendly is the kind of bore only liberal do-gooders relish. Think again. Jumping on the green bandwagon can add up to 5 per cent to the value of your property, make it more competitive on the housing market and help you save on energy bills. CityA.M. has taken a critical eye to the top five ways to turn your home into a green paradise: SOLAR PANELS AND WIND TURBINES Wind turbines and solar panels cost around £24,000 and £16,000 respectively. So regardless of the incentive schemes or low energy bills they attract (discussed below) it will take at least eight years or more to make the money back. Some argue that these big-ticket items do not make any sense for those planning to move house in the next 20 years. But property expert Ed Mead of Douglas and Gordon disagrees: “In ‘yuppy’ areas such as Battersea and Fulham a wind turbine or solar panel can add a ‘cool’ factor to a property, pushing the price up by maybe 5 per cent.” INSULATION The Energy Saving Trust says that the average home can save £300 a year from proper insulation. Considering that buildings lose 56 per cent of heat through the walls and roof, and insulation can be as cheap as 36p a square meter, it is stupid not to make the investment. It could also make your property more competitive in the housing market. Mead says: “Insulation will impress surveyors and could improve your EPC [Energy Performance Certificate] rating.” While a small factor, a better EPC rating could be a deciding factor for a prospective buyer torn between two properties. Insulating windows is also important: 18 per cent of heat is lost this way. Double glazing is practically standard these days. Properties without it suffer on the housing market. There are no excuses for those with sash windows either: new models offer better-insulated edges and double glass panels. But Mead offers a word of caution: “Secondary glazing is a very different thing to double glazing. Double glazing is a minimum standard these days. Secondary glazing – those additional windows installed on the inside of the original window – will actually knock value off your property. Prospective buyers instantly think: “What’s the problem, is it noisy outside?”” THICK CARPETS AND CURTAINS These are not only good at keeping in the heat but they are back in fashion. Mead says people have left laminate floors and blinds behind and decent carpets and curtains have made a come-back. “Anything that makes a potential buyer feel cosy and homely is going to be a plus, but make sure you chose inoffensive colours.” IMPROVING YOUR CENTRAL HEATING Mead says a new boiler will always add value to your property and is often an important consideration for prospective buyers. The savings made on energy bills are impressive too. Simply replacing a G-rated boiler for an A-rated one will cut your bill by a quarter. These might cost more but you will make the money back in savings. Those with more money to spend should invest in under floor heating. It is better for the environment because the system operates at a lower temperature and delivers the heat to where you feel it most. Mead says this massively improves the value of a property: “Buyers absolutely love under floor heating.” EXPERT VIEW JAMES MOTT CONSERVATION SPECIALIST MANY people think making your home eco-friendly is only for new builds and modern properties. While it is true that making substantial green adjustments to a listed building presents more challenges (and usually requires listed building consent), there are no such restrictions on period buildings. All you need is a specialist who knows how to work with older properties. To make properties more energy efficient, solar panels can be fitted to most roofs, so long as they are discreetly located. Additionally, fuel bills can be lowered by installing ground or air source pumps which will provide heat and hot water. But be warned, seeking out specialist help is very important. There are so many simple things that a standard installer will not know about older buildings For example, almost all buildings built before the 1920s were constructed with solid walls, which a standard workman might say rules out insulation. This is not the case. Specialists can offer bespoke solutions using breathable products such as sheep’s wool or hemp to insulate walls, floors and roofs. However, these products need to be specified correctly to avoid producing mould. In fact, making green investments such as under-floor board insulation and upgrading sash windows so as to be draught-proof are pretty standard practice for a specialist. It does not stop there for the extremely keen. There are companies such as that make quality period-style kitchens using specially sourced timber and incorporate eco-friendly products such as strawboard and worktops made from recycled yogurt pots. For a comprehensive directory of listed and period buildings specialists visit