What to look for when buying a house: An energy efficiency guide

Considering buying a house? Here are a few things to look out for before making the move.

Buying a house, is a big financial decision and it’s important to know the pros and cons to your investment, and whether it’s in good condition or is going to require a fair bit of work. So here is a break down of the most important signs your potential new home is going to require some maintenance to be energy efficient.

At the viewing it important to take into consideration the exterior of the house, as this is often a sign of the upkeep, and can give you some hints as to the condition and energy efficiency of the house.

Take a look at:

Roof: Does the house have a flat roof? A flat roof can often be an indicator of problems to follow. The lack of an inclination can often lead to ponding and vegetation growth which can result in the roof leaking [1].

Is the roof missing any tiles? When inside the house it is a good idea to check up on the missing tiles and see how the roof is sealed and/ or insulated. A roof that is foam insulated could prove problematic in the future.

Air bricks Does the house have air bricks at its foundation?  If it does then it is likely that there is a suspended wooden floor that needs ventilation to prevent decay. This is likely to make the house draughty and reduce the house’s energy efficiency.

Bricks: What is the brick pattern? It’s not often that one pays attention to the pattern of the bricks, but by looking at them can help you determine the wall structure. A layered pattern like in image 1, shows that there is likely to be a cavity wall.  This has a gap (cavity) between the outer brick wall and the inner block wall may have been filled with insulation keeping the house warm and saving money on heating making it a more energy efficient house. However, if the brick work resembles image 2 then it is likely that it has solid walls.  The thickness of the wall is that of the length of the brick. If this is the case, it is unlikely to be an insulated wall, and hence less energy efficient. However, this type of wall can be insulated.

As your viewing progresses into the house here are a few things to look out for:

Damp: Does the house have a mouldy smell? You might not be able to tell if this is case but be sure to look out for flaky plaster and watermarks on the walls and ceilings. Pay particular attention to near the ceiling and around the skirting board 1. Fresh paint may mean damp had been painted over.

Cracks: Does the building have any big cracks or lots of hairline fractures? These are likely to be found around extension joins, end-of-terrace walls and bay windows. The presence of cracks can indicate that the building is not as structurally sound as it should be 1.  A chartered surveyor may be able to later survey the property and will know what needs more serious attention.

Windows: Is there condensation or cracked paint around the window? There are two important aspects to checking the windows that will affect the houses energy efficiency. The first being the presence of cracked paint on the window frame. This can often mean that it is rotten. You can check by feeling how soft the window frame is 1. The second is the double glazing of the windowpanes, if there is a build up of condensation between the panes then it is likely to be faulty (blown).  Usually there is an inert gas or vacuum between glazing panes, which helps insulate them.  Condensation is a sign this insulation may no longer be effective. New windows should come with a FENSA guarantee.

To further differentiate houses and to help you find the most energy efficient property make sure to consider the houses energy performance certificate (EPC), which every house must have to be sold. This is provided to help buyers determine how much energy bills are likely to be based on the house’s current energy efficiency, and what can be done to make it more energy efficient [1]. Below is a break down of a typical EPC.

  1. Estimated energy cost divided into three categories. These figures are from the energy prices at the time of issue and exclude additional appliances.
  2. Graded from A-G (A the most efficient).  The higher the rating, the lower the fuel bills. The potential rating is what could be achieved if energy saving recommendations are undertaken. The average home in the UK has a rating of D.
  3. Homeowner improvements to increase energy efficiency. Displays estimated cost and savings over 3 years.
  4. A breakdown of the various elements of the home and how efficient these are, based on an assessor’s estimate.
  5. Sources of energy that have few or no emissions, which could be installed.
  6. Amount of heating required in kWh/year. Figures used for Renewable Heat Incentive
  7. A step-by-step guide on how to improve the home’s energy efficiency rating. Including price of installation, savings and the potential rating of the home after improvements have been made.
  8. Current home rating with how much carbon dioxide is emitted, along with the potential rating and emissions if improvements are made.

In considering these different aspects when buying a house, you’re in good stead to find an energy efficient property.



For lighting, electrical, signage, and technology solutions that allow you to do more call Sverige Energy today at +4(670) 4122522.