Are new builds the smart choice for energy efficiency?

Now, I am by no means in a position to be buying a home any time soon – I mean, I’m just about to give up all my worldly belongings and go gypsy for a while across the world! But I know many of my more sensible peers are increasingly looking to settle down and jump onto the property ladder. Most of them are going for the cheaper option, of something older which needs a little bit of work; then putting the hours and money in to make it their own. But when it comes to investing in your first house, is this approach really the most affordable, and green way to go?

My dream, if I’m honest, is to build my own Tiny House, Grand Design style. But If I had to purchase an existing home, I would always go for the old Victorian house full of character, over a shiny new build, with little history or soul. However – for the sustainably conscious – recent innovations are showing that new homes might actually be the smarter choice; not only for the pocket but also for the green credentials of your home.

In recent years there have been major changes in the way new build homes are designed, to make them more efficient for both the environment and the customer; resulting in hundreds of pounds being saved each year on energy bills.

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New homes are generally well insulated and more energy efficient already, saving money and faffing time to get it up to speed. Though warning of energy efficiency feels like a broken record at times, with more homes needed every year; it’s a biggie that needs to be addressed.

The Environment Agency found that residential homes are responsible for 30% of energy use in the UK, as well as 27% of carbon emissions and 24% of greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s important to ensure that we are doing all that we can to look after and now waste our energy

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Lauren Dunn, from Miller Homes, suggests that new homes are intentionally built with energy efficiently in mind:

New build homes are generally more energy efficient than refurbished or old homes and are much kinder to the environment. They are more comfortable to live in because they are warmer and because they are specifically designed to be energy efficient, they also have more natural light.  Of course, they also have lower running costs too which is great for everyone.

For example, a three bed detached new build house could cost up to 52 per cent less to run than an ‘upgraded’ Victorian home; while a four bed detached new build house could cost 55 per cent less to run than an ‘upgraded’ Victorian home – that’s less money spent on running the house and more money which can be saved or spent elsewhere. “

This is why Miller’s new homes now contain ‘Smart Meter’ technology, to enable people to have better control over their energy usage. Smart Meters send your energy usage to your energy supplier in addition to giving them information on the CO2 emissions from your home. This way, not only can you see how much energy you are using, but you can manage your bills more effectively too.  Smart Meters also have audio technology which warns you when you exceed your energy usage – preventing you from spending unnecessarily and wasting energy!

house hold useage of energy

5 Tips for saving money on your energy

Although new homes are now built with cavity walls, which could save you £140 a year in heating because they provide insulation, there are still many other ways that you can cut down utility bills by simply making a few changes around the home:

  1. If you turn your heating down by 1 degree you could save up to 10 per cent off your bills each year, and because it’s only one degree – you won’t even notice the difference.
  2. Instead of leaving items on standby such as the kettle, the microwave and games consoles turn them off when they are not in use. It not only reduces the risk of a fire, but it could also save you £50-86 a year on bills. This is one of the biggest energy wasting habits that we have in the UK!
  3. Invest in a washing up bowl as you could save £30 a year in comparison to washing the dishes under a running tap.
  4. You can even save some money when doing your washing too, simply wash your clothes at 30 degrees and the amount of electricity that you use could reduce by 30 per cent.
  5. Switch to direct debit and you could save yourself some money, in 2013 energy bills paid by direct debit were £111 cheaper than payments by standard credit. Companies often offer deals and discounts for new customers, so shop around and you could save even more. Choose paperless billing too as it’s cheaper.

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2 thoughts on “Are new builds the smart choice for energy efficiency?”

  1. While I think the Tiny House movement is really cool, it is one more rooftop and it is still a new home. As a professional sustainability consultant, I am familiar with some statistics that might surprise you… a new Platinum “Green” building can average 80+ years to payback the environmental and energy footprint that it took to construct the new so called “green” building. The only ‘green’ building is one that already exists. I know a Tiny House has a much smaller footprint, but it still has a footprint. The key to sustainable housing is to build with a shared roof, with all reclaimed materials and to live somewhere so that a car isn’t needed. That is the only true sustainable living situation. An existing condo in a downtown area is much, much more green than building a new house… tiny or not.

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    1. Additionally, high density housing is extremely energy efficient when you share walls, floors and ceilings. But granted, it is harder to go off the grid, which is realistic, and common, in a tiny house.

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