An eco-friendly home in Britain is considered not just globally responsible but now it is becoming personally profitable. Nearly 40 percent of Britain's energy is consumed in lighting, heating and cooling the country's 25 million buildings. The British government says even minor improvements in energy performance can help significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Now, as part of a European-backed plan, British homeowners are encouraged to take energy-saving measures to help sell their homes. VOA's Mandy Clark reports from London.
Putting a home up for sale in Britain is no longer just about bricks and mortar.
Energy performance is now part of the selling process, as Oliver Skelding has discovered. Since December, every home put on the market is required to have its 'carbon footprint' measured - the amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the home's energy usage. It is all part of a strategy to cut the country's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. An environmental group says 27 percent of Britain's emissions come from its 25 million homes.
"It's a little rough on a country like England which has a hell of a lot of old properties," says Skelding.
The energy inspector arrives and gets down to business, considering everything from the boiler and thermostats to the double glazed windows, the type of light bulbs and the fireplace.
Even the cat-flap is thrown into the equation, along with the dimensions of each room. Skelding looks a bit nervous. Inspector Ieman Barmaki's data will ultimately determine the home's energy rating.
It will be graded on a scale of A to G, with A being the best. That is a home that is completely self-sufficient and even supplies excess power to the community. G is the worst - an expensive energy sucker.
Bermaki explains, "When you get a rating on energy efficiency, you're going to want the house a little bit more energy efficient to get a higher rating and hence make it a little bit more desirable."
These measures are applied across all European Union countries to help improve the continent's energy performance. Making a home here more energy efficient has never been more desirable, after several of Britain's largest energy providers raised their prices by 15 percent last year.
Sellers learn how they might improve efficiency. Ed Matthews from Friends of the Earth says the government will eventually have to make such improvements mandatory if Britain is going to meet its government target of slashing 60 percent of its CO2 emissions in about 40 years.
"People need to be compelled to take action, so what we think we need in the UK is minimum standards for energy performance at homes, all homes," he said. "So you can't actually resell that home unless you can show it meets the minimum standards of energy efficiency."
As for Skelding's home: It got a D rating - slightly above the national average. He has not had any offers yet, but he considers the extra insulation and new thermostats he installed a good investment.