If banks tend to make their money by spotting trends early, then a recent press release by Barclays is very exciting news for everybody concerned with energy efficiency. Last month, the bank announced a green mortgage that offers discounted rates for buyers of new-build homes that achieve an A or B Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. This news makes me hopeful that the pace is quickening on the UK’s journey to energy-efficient housing.
At the very least, it’s an important step towards the end of mortgage lenders using generalised assumptions about energy bills, to consider a property’s running cost instead – its miles per gallon if you like. In doing so, a more accurate view can be formed on the running costs and affordability of occupying a home
Where a prospective buyer can prove that their new home will cost less than average to run, it seems logical that their extra disposable income could be invested in a bigger property or attract a more favourable lending rate. These are real, tangible benefits for homeowners, and could take an appreciation for energy efficiency into the mainstream. In turn, this has potential to create similar mechanisms to encourage refurbishment works that raise the EPC scores of older homes within the existing housing stock.
Assuming such deals become more commonplace, these financial incentives will surely prove helpful in the UK’s race to meet its Climate Change Act commitments. But achieving this sea change requires homeowners, the Government and industry to all be aligned behind this cause. So it’s perhaps no coincidence that Barclays’ launch follows the recent publication of the Government’s Clean Growth Plan, which is exploring routes to encourage people to make their homes more energy-efficient.
Just as the Government and banks are supporting homeowners with their transition to a sustainable lifestyle, the construction industry must continue to play its part by delivering high performing buildings. Manufacturers have an important role in making low carbon buildings achievable and commercially viable for homebuilders, through continuous innovation that pushes the boundaries of product performance. That could mean improving on the accuracy of the EPC’s home running cost predictions too.
With almost a third of possible EPC points relating to insulation, at Knauf Insulation we are acutely aware of our responsibility to support homebuilders in delivering high performance, low-carbon buildings. We take our commitment to product performance very seriously. In addition to having the widest range of solutions on the market, our products and systems are designed to deliver the best possible performance in terms of fire safety, thermal insulation, acoustic absorption and comfort.
The positive link between energy efficiency and economics seems to be forming in the public psyche. At the same time, the construction industry stands ready to satisfy the resulting increase in demand for energy-efficient homes. While there’s certainly more work to do, the signs are there that the planets are aligning. And that’s a good reason to be excited.
[Barclays press release on the green home mortgages can be found here]