In a recent survey homeowners face bills for tens of thousands of pounds to make their properties ‘greener’ in line with Government targets. New proposals supposed to tackle climate change mean it could soon become much more difficult to buy and sell energy- inefficient properties. This could see owners forced to shell out for better insulation and replace gas boilers to make their property more environmentally friendly. Yet some of these changes could take around 50 years to pay back through fuel savings.

Green home push 

The Climate Change Committee, an official advisory body, recently called for all homes to have an energy performance certificate (EPC) grade of C or higher within ten to 15 years. If draughty properties become more difficult to sell, it could mean banks and building societies refuse to offer mortgages on them. And lenders are already being encouraged to reward energy-efficient homebuyers. In February, the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said lenders were ‘uniquely placed’ to influence borrowers. A property’s energy rating can affect how much it is worth — with the most efficient homes selling for as much as 14 per cent more, according to comparison site MoneySuperMarket.

Getting a rating 

All residential properties are given an EPC rating between A and G when they are built, sold or rented. Yet just 2 per cent of homes meet the top A and B grades, while around 85 per cent are either C or D, according to the latest English Housing Survey. Around 13 per cent — some 14.6 million — are rated E, F or G.

The EPC assessment is a ‘blunt instrument’. Properties in the UK are diverse and unfortunately the system uses a one-size-fits-all approach. ‘The recommendations may not be suitable for your home because it does not consider the age of the property, or the materials used to build it.’ The methodology of the EPC has also not been updated since 2012, However, improvements to the quality of calculations and recommendations may be introduced next year.

For example, Take a typical four bed 1950s semi currently eco grade D, score of 65 out of 100. Suggested improvements:

  • Flat roof or sloping ceiling insulation (£850 to £1,500): 67
  • Suspended floor insulation (£800 to £1,200): 68
  • Solid floor insulation (£4,000 to £6,000): 70
  • Low energy lighting (£65): 71
  • Solar water heating (£4,000 to £6,000): 72
  • Solar panels, 2.5 kWp (£3,500 to £5,500): 79

Maximum cost: £20,265 Potential score: 79, Grade C

Other eco-measures, which can improve your EPC, can be expensive and save you little on your bills. Solar panels, which generate electricity from sunlight on a roof, cost around £5,000 to £8,000.

One system can save between 1.3 to 1.6 tonnes of carbon a year — as much carbon dioxide as driving 3,500 miles. Any electricity you generate, but do not use, can be sold back to the grid with the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). The Energy Saving Trust estimates a home in Manchester could recoup around £305 a year with SEG, or £230 without. So, the panels might not have paid for themselves by the time they need replacing.

Air source heat pumps produce fewer emissions than a gas boiler. They cost between £9,000 and £11,000, according to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), the national standards organisation for renewables, and could last 20 years.

MCS estimates the annual savings are £385 a year compared to a gas boiler, but you can recoup your initial installation costs with the Renewable Heat Incentive. 

This pays quarterly cash payments for seven years to eligible homeowners who install renewable heating.

But would you spend tens of thousands of pounds to make savings of a few hundred pounds a year. 

The money-saving route just does not add up. It’s about encouraging people to reduce their impact on the environment.’