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Are eco friendly houses hard to sell: Sustainable property

Are eco friendly houses hard to sell: Sustainable property

Learning what an eco friendly house is and how hard they are to sell…

Tom Condon
Tom Condon ★ Digital Content Writer

Table of Contents

In the UK, most new build homes are far more eco friendly than their older counterparts with 63% of new builds being cheaper to run. This is one of the reasons why new build homes are a target for first time buyers looking to cut down on their energy bills. 


But, what happens if you opt for a completely eco friendly house? Well, they can be slightly more expensive to buy, come with more maintenance, but can be cheaper to run. You may find that the market for a fully eco-friendly home is smaller, but that doesn’t mean it’s harder!


In this article we will cover how hard it is to sell an eco-friendly house, and the best routes to do it.

What is an eco friendly house?

Eco friendly houses, green homes or Passivhaus properties are homes that are built with sustainability at the heart of the project. The sustainability ethos could come from the sustainable materials used to build the house, the properties energy efficiency, how it reduces the inhabitants carbon footprint and much more.


There are plenty of different types of eco-friendly houses, with some being entirely off grid countryside cottages, and others being state of the art modern houses – the type you’d see on Grand Designs.

What is a Passivhaus property?

A Passivhaus property creates a comfortable and energy efficient living space with minimal reliance on conventional heating and cooling systems.


The term originated in Germany in the 1990s and has since gained international recognition as a leading approach to sustainable building design. Passivhaus properties can be 25% more expensive to build than traditional properties, but save 90% more on energy bills.


Homes that meet the Passivhaus standard are certified through a rigorous verification process and must have:

  • Superior Insulation: Passivhaus properties have high levels of insulation in the walls, roof and floor to minimise heat loss and gain.
  • Airtight construction: They are built to be extremely airtight to prevent uncontrolled air leakage, ensuring that the ventilation is carefully controlled.
  • High performance windows and doors: They use high-quality windows and doors with advanced glazing to minimise heat loss.
  • Ventilation with heat recovery: Mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery are a core component of Passivhaus designs. These systems exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air while recovering the heat from the outgoing air.
  • Thermal bridge-free construction: Passivhaus design minimises thermal bridges, areas where heat can easily transfer between the interior and exterior of a building.
  • Solar gain: Passive solar design principles are often incorporated to optimise the use of solar energy for heating. 
  • Performance standards: Passivhaus properties must meet specific energy performance criteria, including a maximum annual heating demand, primary energy consumption and airtightness level.

What should be included in an eco friendly house?

Most buyers looking for an eco-friendly house will be looking for a property that aligns with four pillars of sustainability; natural building materials, thermal mass heating, green energy source or supplier and temperature controlled architecture.

The use of natural building materials instead of plastic sources contributes to the eco-friendliness of the house. 


Buyers value this feature because it not only promotes sustainable construction practices but also ensures that the home has a reduced environmental impact. Natural materials are often renewable, biodegradable, and have a lower carbon footprint compared to synthetic alternatives.

The focus on thermal mass heating is vital for energy efficiency. Home buyers are attracted to this feature because it helps regulate indoor temperatures more effectively. Thermal mass retains and releases heat slowly, contributing to a more comfortable living environment.


This not only reduces the reliance on artificial heating and cooling systems but also lowers energy consumption, resulting in cost savings for the homeowners.

The use of electricity from a green energy source or supplier is a very important factor for eco-conscious buyers. Green energy demonstrates a commitment to reducing the carbon footprint associated with the home’s energy consumption. 


It aligns with the growing awareness of the environmental impact of traditional energy sources and reflects the homeowner’s dedication to using clean and renewable energy.

The architectural design of a building plays a very important role in controlling temperature. Eco home buyers appreciate features that contribute to natural temperature regulation, such as strategically placed sky lights, shading and doors, all of which maximise on potential natural light. 


In some properties, the architecture of a property can aid in the heating system and heat recovery. Temperature controlled architecture not only enhances comfort but also reduces the ends for excessive energy consumption in maintaining a suitable indoor climate.

How can architects utilise natural light in eco-friendly buildings?

Although you are probably reading this article because you want to sell your house, it can never hurt to know different ways architects create properties so you can recognise the features in your existing property.


One hack architects use is orienting the home to maximise any natural light and heat gain in order to reduce the need for artificial lighting and heating. This is also used alongside incorporating natural ventilation like operable windows and vents to encourage natural airflow, and limit the reliance on mechanical ventilation systems.

What features do eco friendly houses have?

Eco friendly houses with these features are attractive to potential buyers because they offer long-term cost savings, reduced environmental impact and a healthier living environment:

Good insulation helps maintain a consistent indoor temperature, it helps by reducing the reliance on heating and cooling systems, leading to lower energy consumption. Which in turn reduces utility bills and the overall carbon footprint of the house.


You should always remember to insulate your roof as well as your walls and floors, as most of the heat will escape through your roof.


According to the UK Government website, good insulation could increase your home value by up to 9%.

Using renewable energy sources such as wind, solar or geothermal power helps to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy like fossil fuels and contributes to a lower environmental impact. 


Heat pumps, whether they are ground source  heat pumps or air source heat pumps, are highly efficient in converting energy from the air, ground, or water into heat for indoor spaces. This is because they achieve high levels of efficiency, especially in moderate climates like the UK.

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, providing a clean and sustainable energy source. Solar panelling reduces reliance on traditional energy grids and fossil fuels, leading to cost savings and environmental benefits. 


Solar panels can add between 4% and 14% to a house’s value, with some rare cases seeing house valuations increasing by 25%.

Water conservation systems such as rainwater harvesting and efficient plumbing fixtures, help reduce water consumption. In areas facing water scarcity water conservation systems can be great as it collects rainwater to use within the property. 


Water conservation systems can save homeowners between 40% and 50% of their water bills, all while adding up to 8% to a house’s value.

Incorporating reclaimed or recycled materials into construction reduces the demand for new resources, minimises waste and promotes a circular economy by preventing valuable materials ending up in landfills. 


While using reclaimed materials can be a great way to save costs when building, you will need to be careful that the property does not become classified as ‘non-standard construction’ as this could affect the likelihood of potential buyers getting mortgage approval on your property.

Double or triple glazed windows enhance insulation by providing an extra layer of thermal resistance. Glazed windows help in maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature, reducing the need for heating or cooling, and contributing to noise reduction and energy efficiency. 


It is estimated that double glazing windows can increase the property value by up to 10%, while triple glazing can improve the house value by up to 20%.

Smart technologies, such as energy efficient appliances, programmable thermostats and home automation systems enable homeowners to monitor and control energy usage, leading to optimised energy consumption, increased efficiency and cost savings. 


Making smart technology additions to a property may add on average, £16,000 to a house’s value. But, this will depend on the type of smart tech added and whether you have taken steps to increase your EPC.

Does interior design matter when it comes to eco housing?

Interior design matters to a degree when dealing with eco housing, as sustainable home design practices can complement the overall environmentally conscious ethos of a property. 


Sustainable interior design can be achieved via the use of eco-friendly materials like recycled or reclaimed wood, low volatile organic compound paints, and energy efficient appliances.

Why would potential buyers be put off by an eco friendly house?

As we have previously mentioned, one of the drawbacks of eco friendly housing is the steep learning curve attached to their home systems, especially if they are off grid or are completely self-sustainable ecologically, 


Away from this, another issue some potential buyers may have with your eco-friendly home is the fact that its airtight insulation traps sound indoors which can be annoying if the potential buyer is part of a large family – as noise is trapped within.


Another issue that arises is eco homes need some or a lot of maintenance in order to maintain their eco status, and potential buyers will need to be proactive when keeping up with energy consumption requirements.

What is the most eco-friendly town in the UK?

In May, Oxford in Oxfordshire, was crowned the greenest and most eco friendly town in the UK, under the ENDS Report Green Cities Index 2023. The index evaluated England’s 55 largest urban cities on more than 30 environmental factors grouped into five categories: public realm, green behaviour, air quality, climate and water quality.


Oxford scored highly in the public realm and green behaviour categories. The city’s residents were recognised as among the greenest in England. In addition to this, Oxford has the fourth highest recycling rate in the country, which represents a commitment to sustainable waste management. 


In terms of sustainable infrastructure, the city boasts the fifth highest number of electric vehicle charging stations per 100,000 people in England. Oxford also performed well in terms of green commuting behaviour, with a high proportion of residents travelling to work by bicycle or on foot.


The city has a history of leading the way on environmental measures for the South of England, with initiatives such as the UK’s first Zero Emission Zone pilot, Europe’s most powerful EV charging hub and the UK’s first citizen’s assembly on climate change.


Oxford has demonstrated commitment to zero carbon efforts including the establishment of a Zero Emissions Zone in the city centre and plans for an all electric bus fleet. 


Despite some controversies over recent green initiatives like low-traffic neighbourhoods and the decision to serve 100% plant-based meals at internal events, Oxford has been proactive in implementing measures to enhance its environmental sustainability.

What town in the UK has the most eco-friendly houses?

Norwich has the most eco-friendly homes in the UK, according to research provided by Rated People. The research calculated eco-home scores based on a set of 20 ‘eco-home criteria’, considering environmentally friendly features such as extra insulation, smart metres, electric car charging points and heat pumps, biomass boilers and electric cars.

Is it harder to sell an eco-friendly house?

Selling an eco-friendly house can be interesting to sell on the open market because although it has some very good positives, it may be seen as a learning curve by inexperienced eco home buyers which narrows the pool of potential buyers.


One of the positives of eco homes is that they are more energy-efficient and appeal to environmentally conscious buyers as they offer reduced monthly energy bills. 


But, this energy efficiency will probably come with a steep learning curve as eco-friendly houses tend to have their own insulation systems, window shutters and water conservation systems.


It gets even more complicated if your house has Passivhaus recognition as this will need to be maintained in order to retain its value and quality.

What are the main differences between eco housing and normal housing?

The main difference between eco housing and normal housing is that eco friendly housing and their sustainable features are 25% or more expensive than traditional homes, but buyers will take into account the fact they are making an investment into the future and environment. 


Eco housing tends to be more energy efficient, resulting in lower utility bills which is a significant selling point for cost-conscious potential buyers, especially as normal housing may lack the energy efficiency features of an eco home and will result in higher long-term utility costs for buyers. 


Sustainable properties appeal to people looking to prioritise sustainable living and reducing their ecological footprint, which unsurprisingly, has become a top demand amongst buyers on the open market within the last decade. 


Most new build properties are built with some form of eco friendliness to them, offering double or triple glazing, underfloor heating and thorough insulation throughout the properties. Although these are not considered completely sustainable properties, they are a good starting point for eco friendly housing. 


In most cities in the UK, especially in the Government’s Investment Zones like Cambridge and Leeds, there are incentives and tax exemptions for eco-friendly features which can be additional selling points. It’s always good to find out if your property falls within this as it will make your house more attractive to people on limited budgets. 


Finally, buyers are far more likely to buy traditional properties with period features, as this is what they have become accustomed to. Although demand for eco friendly housing has risen, there is still quite a narrow pool of buyers that are interested in one specific area.

Where can I sell my sustainable property?

The best way to sell your sustainable property or eco friendly house is through us! We are a leading UK estate agency with over 50 years of combined experience in selling and buying houses. 


We can help sell your property in as little as 28 days, all while handling and covering the costs of all your marketing, photography, listing, visiting and more. All the costs usually associated with selling your house, we will cover — even your solicitors!


We have an ethos here at The Property Selling Company, that selling your house should be fast, effortless and free. And, we have made it our mission to do just that! We will work alongside you with every step of the house-selling process, ensuring that you are satisfied around every corner.


We will market your property on property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, organise viewings and much more. If you are looking to buy or sell a property, get in touch today and fill in one of our free, no-obligation forms!