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Could energy efficiency sway buyers towards new-build homes?

By Sophia Wood-Burgess

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Are you dreaming of the classic terrace house, or do London’s new-build homes pique your interest? Recently, energy efficiency has risen in buyers’ priorities, which puts a spotlight on London’s new homes.

New homes have romanced many London buyers with their convenience in the moving-in process. No renovating, painting, cleaning and repairing upon move-in, plus no onward chain to worry about. However, recently, another aspect of new homes has been brought into focus – energy efficiency.

Photograph: Leafy, waterfront Woodbury Down in Finsbury Park, on the market with Foxtons.

You cannot read a newspaper or watch a news programme without hearing about energy prices these days. According to an article by the BBC, “A typical household's energy bill will rise to £2,500 a year from 1 October (from £1,971).” In fact, as the article describes, the average would have nearly doubled to £3,549 this October if it weren't for a newly announced price cap. For many of us, energy usage is a daily topic in public spaces and a constant consideration at home, so it should come as no surprise that this characteristic of new-build homes is gaining traction with homebuyers. According to a survey by Zoopla, “More than two-thirds of new-build buyers (69%) said EPC ratings were either extremely or very important to them.”

A well-deserved reputation

Photograph: energy-efficient homes in Brentwood Acres are on the market now with Foxtons

This Brentwood development features homes with air source heat pumps, solar panels on the roofs, and electric charge points in the parking bays.

The first question on anyone’s mind is: are new homes actually more energy efficient? And yes, generally, they are. New homes must be constructed in line with the latest building regulations. A typical new build will have double or triple glazed windows, properly installed insulation, and efficient heating. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) published new research, Greener, Cleaner, Cheaper, which finds, “For the dwellings logged in the 12 months to September 2021, around 84% of new builds are rated A-B for energy efficiency, while just 3% of existing properties reached the same standard. In contrast, 58% of existing dwellings had an efficiency rating of D-G, as compared to just 5% of new builds.”

Update: The Home Builders Federation's latest version of this report finds "85% of new builds were rated A or B for energy efficiency, while under 4% of existing dwellings reached the same standards" (Watt A Save energy report, February 2023).

But it doesn’t stop there

The most important part? It’s getting better all the time. Building developers are aware of increasing regulations to come. A Government press release announced that by 2025, all new build homes will be “expected to produce 75-80% lower carbon emissions compared to current levels.” The government also committed to ensuring new homes are net-zero-ready, which means no retro-fitting or refurbishment will be necessary for these new homes to reach zero carbon emissions. Already, from 15th June 2022, new homes must meet higher standards to reduce carbon emissions by at least 31% (Gov.uk).

Charging an electric car at homeAnother regulation recently came into place that will help energy-conscious house buyers, “A new residential building with associated parking must have access to electric vehicle charge points” (Infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicles). The new regulations don't apply if the planning application for a building was submitted before 15 June 2022, so we have some years to go before this becomes the norm. However, in the future electric car owners will be able to buy a new-build home and rest assured they're able to charge overnight.

The benefits to your wallet

Charging an electric car at homeAs energy prices are going up, we can assume the savings for a more energy efficient home will be even greater than recent research suggests. However, HBF’s research stated, “By purchasing a new home rather than an older, less energy efficient property, last year’s new build purchasers are saving 576,000 tonnes of carbon emissions” and in 2021, that equated to “collectively, owners of new build homes were able to save an estimated £112 million over the course of the year, approximately £435 per dwelling” (Read the report).

The tides are changing

Next year will be the 30th anniversary of Foxtons dedicated New Homes department, and we’ve seen many changes in the relationship between Londoners and new-build homes these past three decades. There was a swell of interest when Help to Buy came into effect. (This scheme is ending, and applications must be submitted by 31 October 2022. If you’re using Help to Buy, read this blog and act now.)

However, we’re witnessing a budding interest in energy efficiency. Our Area Director of New Homes and Investments & Development Consultancy, Neil McGimpsey said, “Whilst lower maintenance and running costs have always been a consideration for buyers choosing a new build property, growing awareness of climate change has prompted specific attention on energy efficiency. Given the current price rises, it is natural people will look for ways to use less energy so we expect this trend to accelerate.”

A survey and analysis by Zoopla found, “New-builds can save you 52% on energy costs over a year – but most people think it’s less.” If you're shopping around for an energy efficient home, why not learn a bit more about London’s new homes? Let us show you around one of our energy efficient new builds sometime; either register with My Foxtons or take a look at our new build properties that are on the market now.

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