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What is an Eco-House and Would You Pay More For One?

Posted 15 April 2019 by Nick Parkhouse

Buyers and renters are increasingly interested in eco-houses and eco-homes. But would you pay more? Here’s your guide...

Over recent years, there has been a growing awareness amongst home buyers and renters about environmental issues.

Factors such as energy-efficiency and using sustainable materials have become more important when deciding where to rent or buy – but would you be prepared to pay more for an eco-house?

In our guide we look at recent research suggesting that while buyers and renters are taking environmental issues more seriously, few are willing to pay extra to go green. Keep reading to find out more.

Just a quarter of people would pay more for an eco-house

As attitudes towards environmental issues change, it’s clear that home buyers and renters are now more sustainability and eco-conscious than ever before.

A recent survey by Eurocell asked people about the importance of sustainability and eco-friendly issues in future homes. It asked what features they would find most appealing, and respondents identified a wide range of sustainability features including:

  • Double/triple glazing (58%)
  • Designs that maximise natural light (41%)
  • Solar panels (35%)
  • Energy-efficient appliances (35%)

The study also found that:

  • More than half (52%) said it was either somewhat or very important that their home is made using environmentally-responsible materials
  • 49% of respondents said they would be more likely to buy or rent an eco-friendly home
  • 22% of respondents said the use of recycled and sustainable building products was an appealing sustainability feature.

However, the research found that while people are willing to consider and adopt a variety of measures to reduce the environmental impact of their home, they were reluctant to pay any more for these features.

Overall, just under a quarter of respondents (24%) would be prepared to pay more for ‘green’ features. Of these, a third would pay up to 10% more, 28% would pay up to 20% more and 22% would pay up to 30% extra.

Commenting on the survey, James Roberts, Project Architect at SimpsonHaugh, says: “It comes down to what is tangible. People understand the concept of double glazing and smart meters, for example.

“However, if you look at the sustainability credentials of the materials used, or how air tight a home is, these are less tangible yet can have an equally significant impact on how sustainable a home is.

“As such, willingness to invest in some ‘sustainable design features’ is likely to increase as the public’s understanding of them does. Some they will already be investing in, without appreciating it,” he added.

Natural light can improve health and productivity

One current design trend is to build homes that offer more natural light. The sustainability study found that two in five people were interested in homes which offered this benefit.

Almost a quarter of research respondents cited having large floor-to ceiling windows in their top three favoured design trends, demonstrating the growing consumer importance put on these features.

The benefits of natural light are well recognised and include improved health, happiness, productivity and better mental well-being, with research also suggesting it can help reduce the effects of seasonal affective disorder.

Furthermore, it’s been found that energy bills can be as much as 75% lower in homes with lots of natural light.

  • 80% of respondents said that natural light in their home is either very or somewhat important
  • 48% said they would be willing to pay more to live in a home with more natural light
  • 57% said they would be more likely to rent or buy a home that had more natural light

Respondents to the survey also cited new windows as important for energy-efficiency and noise reduction.

Francesca Roberts, architect at Hawkins Brown, says: “It’s about careful placement of the windows and thinking about how light can be flooded into properties in all the right places.

“It’s not just about light either, you need to think about other factors, such as if the property is near a busy railway or a road and consider how this should impact the placement of windows.

“It’s about finding that sweet spot, through proper testing and analysis. The placement of windows should not be determined by rolling out a standard house type across a site, with the window placement being left to chance. Instead, what’s right for each plot should be considered,” she added.

New homes also likely to incorporate smart technology

As the use of smart assistants and voice technology increases through devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, are new build properties likely to start incorporating this technology in their design?

The Eurocell research certainly suggests tis is something that consumers are looking for, with 53% of respondents saying they would be either very or quite interested in technology-enabled products being included in the build of their home.

57% of 31 to 35-year-olds and 52% of 25 to 30-year-olds said they had an interest in smart technology being incorporated.

However, one of the concerns is that technology evolves so fast that it is unlikely to last the lifetime of a new build home.

Francesca Roberts believes that technology is changing so quickly, it’s hard to predict what the “smart home will look like in 20 years’ time? So much technology these days is wireless anyway, so it doesn’t necessarily need embedding.”

James Roberts believes that “money is better invested in quality architectural design than on embedding fast changing technology” suggesting that embedding tech into a development is unlikely, particularly considering that only a quarter of people are intending to invest in smart technology for their home.


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