Bob Dalrymple, Head of Marketing at leading glass wool insulation manufacturer, Superglass, discusses the increasing importance house-buyers put on the running costs of properties and how housebuilders can use it to their advantage.
‘Location, location, location’ may be a snappy catch-phrase for estate agents and TV property shows, but house-buyers are increasingly evaluating a home’s lifetime running costs in the decision-making process.
Consumers are more discerning than ever and are recognising the long-term economic and environmental benefits of demanding homes that offer lower energy bills and maintenance costs.
Formerly the domain of ‘deep green’ enthusiasts, sustainable building and business practices have percolated into the mainstream. It’s true that people are becoming more environmentally conscious; but, with the cost of living continuing to rise, people are also looking to make financial savings.
It’s estimated that running a home – including bills and repairs – can add up to almost half of all household income, so serious savings can be made over a property’s lifetime if care is taken to reduce energy. In fact, the European Commission has estimated that worldwide energy efficiency measures would result in savings on energy spending of anywhere between €280bn and €410bn every year.
As well as consumers driving demand for more sustainable, high-quality homes, building regulations across the UK are quite rightly introducing stricter standards to meet legally-binding carbon reduction targets.
The struggle for housebuilders is meeting demand, but also delivering on quality to keep owners’ running costs low and properties more desirable.
It’s a difficult balancing act, but getting it right can pay dividends.
Some developers try to demonstrate a property’s sustainable credentials and low running costs by installing ‘eco-bling’ – smart home gadgets, for example – but the most efficient approach is to take a fabric first approach to saving energy.
While smart home technologies and solar panels can make a difference to a home’s carbon footprint, it’s important to get the basics right first. It may not be the most glamorous aspect of sustainable building practice, but having a well-insulated house is paramount to reducing the life-time running costs of a property.
Our mantra is ‘wrap it then heat it’ and we believe the most straightforward way to improve a home’s energy efficiency is to effectively and completely insulate it. Our glass wool is particularly effective as it prolongs the life-time performance of other environmental technologies, is made from up to 84% recycled glass, and can save around 300 times the energy used to manufacture it.
Ultimately, we spend the majority of our time indoors, so the affordability, comfort and simplicity of energy-saving measures within a property should never be secondary priorities. High quality insulation can add value to a home, by reducing the financial burden of heating and improving the efficacy of smart home technologies.
As people place more and more emphasis on life-cycle costing analysis (LCC) in the home-buying process, it’s vital that architects, builders and developers incorporate long-term energy efficiency measures in the early planning stages.
Given the legislative and customer-driven demand for homes that are energy efficient over the long-term, building sustainable and eco-friendly solutions is no longer a ‘nice to have’. It is now essential for the construction industry, for individual home-buyers, and most importantly, the environment.