Energy efficiency is now top of house hunters’ wish lists – here’s where to buy

There was a time when the choice between a new-build home and a period property was a straightforward one: convenience, or character. But now soaring household bills have pushed running costs to the top of home buyers’ list of priorities.

Modern new homes are, without doubt, cheaper to run than their leaky, creaky, charming Victorian and Edwardian counterparts –although they are often also more expensive to buy.

Despite this, estate agents say buyers are increasingly interested in the energy efficiency of homes. According to a recent study by NatWest four in ten buyers now believe that the energy efficiency of a prospective home is a very important factor, up from less than a third a year ago.

‘The sharp increases in energy bills and the cost of living more generally has made energy efficiency much more important to consumers’ everyday lives,’ says Lloyd Cochrane, head of mortgages at NatWest.

Last month a study from Savills also found that green credentials are moving up buyer wishlists, with more than three quarters of buyers saying energy efficiency has become a more important issue for them.

‘Prospective home buyers are beginning to think about more than just the price of their next property,’ says Frances McDonald, research analyst at Savills. ‘Six in ten buyers would be willing to pay more for a home if 75 per cent of its energy came from renewable sources.’

Brent Cross Town is bringing 6,700 new homes to NW2, heated by renewable energy (Picture: Brent Cross Town)

Housebuilders across London and the south-east are responding fast to buyer interest in eco-friendly homes, and the £8billion Brent Cross Town project – aiming to create a 180-acre model urban neighbourhood – has lofty low-energy aspirations.

Work began in 2020 and the first phase of 6,700 new homes are already on sale. The site will also feature a new station, offices, shops, restaurants, a cinema, open space, several schools and an upgraded shopping centre.

Swedish power company Vattenfall is providing an on-site energy centre that will warm the homes using only renewable energy, with the help of the UK’s largest installation of heat pumps.

The aim is for the entire site to run without producing any carbon emissions by 2030.

Guide prices start at £400,000 for a one-bedroom flat, £610,000 for a two-bedroom flat and £810,000 for a three-bedroom flat.

The Zero

Triple-glazed flats at The Zero in SW20 (Picture: Hamptons)

In deepest south-west London the clue is in the name at a new scheme in leafy Raynes Park.

The Zero is an award-winning zero-carbon boutique development of 35 flats, built to be airtight so that no precious heat is lost. This means triple glazing, top-spec insulation and extra-thick walls.

But an integrated ventilation system means that the flats never get stuffy.

Inside, the kitchen appliances are low energy and there are boiling water taps, while solar panels are fitted on the roof.

Energy is stored in an array of Tesla Powerwall batteries and redirected to the individual homes to augment their power supply. In winter the batteries can store cheaper off-peak energy for owners to use whenever they want.

It is estimated that bills will be around 75 per cent lower than in a conventional flat.

Prices at The Zero start at £500,000 via Hamptons.

Whetstone Gardens

Buyers looking for a north London home have been snapping up flats at Whetstone Gardens where more than half the 20 homes have already been sold.

Instead of conventional, fossil fuel-burning boilers to generate heating and hot water, all these homes are fitted with solar panels and have infrared heating systems which run on electricity.

Green roofs add insulation as well as providing a habitat for wildlife, and of course there are charging points provided for electric cars.

Prices at the EPC A-rated development start at £385,000 via Barnard Marcus.

Colina Mews

Reserve a home now at Colina Mews in N15 and get two years of power costs covered (Picture: Latimer)

Energy efficiency is fast becoming a valuable marketing tool for housebuilders such as Latimer, which claims its Colina Mews development in Turnpike Lane is so cheap to run that buyers can save £4,000 per year in fuel bills by buying one of its three-bedroom duplex apartments, compared to a similar-sized Victorian terrace home with an EPC rating of D nearby.

Latimer says this is because of features including triple glazing, a communal heat and power system, low-energy lighting and insulation of a high standard.

Bills will certainly be low initially because, as prices rise around us, Latimer is offering to cover power costs for two years to buyers who reserve a property now.

The homes will be completed in January, and prices start at £790,000 via Evergreen by Latimer.

The Post House

For a green home surrounded by actual greenery The Post House is a new boutique development overlooking Clapham Common.

It is a reboot of the former Clapham Common Post Office & Sorting Office which now contains 14 one and two-bedroom flats priced from £475,000.

Eco-credentials include a ‘smart grid’ system that draws electricity from the grid at off-peak times and then stores it until required, plus underfloor heating which can be controlled via a smartphone app, and energy-efficient LED lighting.

Knight’s Park

But green homes aren’t just a London thing. One of the UK’s largest low-energy developments is well under way at Eddington, two miles north-west of Cambridge city centre.

By 2024 there will be more than 800 new homes at Knights Park, with a central energy centre to provide the whole site with heating and hot water – power is generated using solar photovoltaic panels.

The homes have triple glazing and high-performing insulation to minimise heat loss, while a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system ensures a constant flow of clean, fresh filtered air to each property.

Outdoors a rainwater recycling system collects and filters rainwater which is then reused to run washing machines and flush toilets.

Prices for a new home at Knights Park start at £339,950.

So Resi Hope Green

Another eco-village is taking shape at Stanford-le-Hope, in Essex, set between the capital and the east coast. The 153 houses and apartments at So Resi Hope Green are equipped with air source heat pumps which provide cheaper, greener energy than conventional gas boilers, and the homes also have solar panels.

These properties are highly insulated, so heat generated is not lost, and they are fitted with low-cost LED lighting.

Potentially the residents could end up earning a modest bonus from selling excess energy generated on-site back to the grid.

Adding to its green credentials, the development has plentiful open spaces, along with footpaths and cycleways that lead to the town centre.

Prices start from £147,750 for a 30 per cent share of a four-bedroom house with a full market value of £392,000.


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