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Thursday, 20 August 2009

Moving home: a green guide

Choosing a home can have many environmental consequences. For example, your location determines how far you will travel for work, shops and schools. Moving home often involves buying new appliances and making changes to your property, so it's a good time to think about how you can save energy and water.


Private cars produce around 13 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions. When looking for a new home, thinking about how you can cut down the distances you will need to travel by car will help reduce climate change effects. Good public transport links can help you cut car journeys.

Insulation and heating

Heating and hot water will account for most of the energy you use at home. Choosing an energy efficient property, or improving its energy efficiency when you move in, will reduce climate change effects. It can also save you a lot of money, especially if you stay there for a long time.

Energy ratings for new homes
If you’re buying a property built since 2002 you could ask the seller about the property’s ‘SAP rating’ (Standard Assessment Procedure rating). The SAP rating is based on the energy costs associated with heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting. Rating is on a scale of one to 100. The higher the number, the greater the energy efficiency and the lower your running costs would be.

When looking at properties, ask whether there is wall and loft insulation, and find out how old the boiler is. If the boiler is more than 10 to 15 years old it is unlikely to be very efficient. Replacing it could save you a third off your energy bills.

Heating controls
When you find somewhere, make sure you get the previous occupiers to show you how the heating controls work or give you the manual. Don’t forget to do the same for the people moving into your old home.

Home energy check
When you’ve moved in, get advice on how you could save energy, by doing the Energy Saving Trust’s online home energy check.

Appliances, furniture and fittings

Moving home is often a time when you buy new appliances or furniture, and can be a good time to change habits, for example by switching to energy efficient light bulbs. Here are some other ideas:

  • if you're buying new appliances, choosing energy efficient ones will save money and help tackle climate change
  • turn over a new leaf by not leaving machines on standby, which wastes a significant amount of electricity
  • buying second-hand, or renovating items like furniture, carpets and curtains, can help save raw materials and energy, and will cut waste
  • when buying timber products like furniture or flooring, check they are from a sustainable source

Saving water

When you move into your new home, there may be things you can do to help save water. For example, buying water efficient appliances, fixing leaking taps or getting a water butt for the garden.

In the garden

If you're lucky you may have inherited some wildlife features if you have a new garden, such as a pond or bird boxes. But there are likely to be other things you could do to encourage wildlife, like putting up feeders, or choosing plants that will attract a variety of insects and animals.

If you don't already have one, think about getting a compost bin to recycle your garden and kitchen waste.


Once you've moved in, and the boxes are finally unpacked, don't forget to recycle all that cardboard and packaging. Most homes are now served by a doorstep recycling service or you can take recycling to your local amenity site.

The wider issue

Choosing a home can have many environmental consequences. For example, your location determines how far you will need to travel for work, shops and schools.

Moving home also tends to be a time when you buy new appliances and make changes to your property, so it's a good time to think about how you can save energy and water. The energy consumed in our homes is responsible for over a quarter of all UK emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change.

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