Energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness must be prioritised by housebuilders

Energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness must be prioritised by housebuilders

Heating costs make up the largest part of UK households energy usage. What technologies should housebuilders be incorporating and how would this impact homeowners as well as serious issues such as fuel poverty.


The supply of homes has long been a contentious issue for UK buyers, as the struggle to get on the housing ladder becomes more troublesome. Whilst demand has been increasing at an exponential rate and until now housebuilders have been struggling to keep up.

However, this imbalance could be about to change. According to recent research, the number of new homes being built in the UK is at a seven-year high. Construction on approximately 37,080 new homes occurred between October 2015 and December 2015, up 23% compared to the previous year according to the Department for Communities & Local Governments (DCLG). These figures run alongside the increase in the number of new homes which have been given planning permission, which are also at their highest levels since 2008.

Considerations

For housebuilders, it is crucial that these houses are not simply built in haste to meet government criteria and deadlines. Instead, housebuilders and their design team must have the bigger picture in mind when designing these homes. Energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness must be prioritised.

The UK must do better as a whole to create more energy efficient housing. The nation’s current housing stock is one of the least energy-efficient across Europe, and in 2012, it was revealed that carbon emissions from homes contributed 37% of the UK’s total carbon emissions.

Technology

With the technology that is currently available to us there are ways in which housebuilders can improve a property’s energy efficiency whilst also cutting fuel costs. Examining the energy efficiency of radiators should be a first port of call as it is ‘by far the biggest slice of UK household energy use’, according to a report released by Department of Climate Change (DECC) in 2013.

One of the technologies available are low-mass, low water content radiators, which contain a tenth of the water compared to a standard steel panel radiator, less water means less water to heat resulting in a faster response and lower fuel bills. Buildings which are fitted with this technology also produce much lower carbon emissions due to the reduced energy used, helping designers and constructors meet carbon reduction targets.

Benefits

Housebuilders and building service engineers should also take into consideration how important saving money is for cash-strapped homebuyers. For homeowners with these super-fast heating systems in place, not only are they helping the environment, but they are also saving money on fuel bills. To put it in perspective, fuel poverty is estimated to have caused over 9,000 deaths in England and Wales last year, simply because residents were unable to afford heating for their homes.

With this new KIWA certified fuel-efficient technology, a property’s running costs will naturally drop year on year. The low mass, low water content technology means that the system reacts quickly to drops in temperature reducing demands on boilers and ensuring better thermal comfort for the occupants. Homeowners are therefore able to get a lot more energy for their money.

These newer energy efficient technologies are the future of UK housing. It is much better to avoid expensive retrofitting at a later date, and instead purchase a property that is already fitted with the necessary energy and money-saving technology.