Brits Shown to Favor Green Home Improvements

Eco-friendly home improvements appear to be increasingly sought-after by Britons, it has been reported.

In research carried out by Legal & General as a part of its ongoing Changing Face of British Homes study, it was revealed that making greener changes to lifestyles is an evermore popular option for members of the public. The study showed that some 37 per cent of people have installed either draught-proofing or double glazing. Meanwhile, 25 per cent of respondents were shown to have fitted additional loft insulation.

For those consumers looking for an effective way to carry out eco-friendly improvements to their property, such as double-glazing and loft insulation, taking out a low-cost home loan may be useful.

The study also showed that just under three-quarters of Britons use low-energy light bulbs, with 23 per cent of respondents looking to recycle rain water. Making sure electrical appliances are not left on standby and making use of reusable shopping bags were also revealed to be popular eco-friendly lifestyle changes. Meanwhile, recycling rubbish was indicated as the most sought-after means in which people lead a greener lifestyle. Overall, 98 per cent of people claimed to be taking steps to improve their environmental efficiency.

However, it appears a significant number of Britons only want to make environmentally-friendly changes when it suits them, with more than half of those questioned said to be unhappy about being charged for waste removal services. An estimated 23 per cent are said to be irked at having to pay for plastic carrier bags at supermarkets and shops.

Commenting on the figures, Ruth Wilkins, head of communications for Legal & General’s general insurance business, said: “While people are annoyed by the implementation of green initiatives the efforts being made to force residents to recycle more of their rubbish are beginning to pay off, with recycling rates jumping from seven per cent to 33 per cent in the past ten years. Legal & General’s recent research would support these findings as the Changing Face of British Homes research shows that a large number of us are taking steps to become greener. Brits simply want to make their own decisions regarding how and when to be green.”

Ms Wilkins went on to report that it is important for those homeowners thinking about carrying out major improvements to their property which are of an environmentally-friendly nature “to check their insurance cover to make sure they are covered under the terms of their policy”.

For consumers wishing to renovate their house – and at the same time help take steps to save the environment – applying for a homeowner loan could be useful. In obtaining this kind of home loan it may be possible that the cost of installing eco-friendly improvements – such as cavity wall insulation, biomass heaters, draught proofing and solar heating panels – can be met quickly and affordably. Indeed borrowing for the purposes of financing home improvements could be rising in popularity after a recent Lloyds TSB study revealed a 19 per cent increase in loan applications for such purposes this month in comparison to August 2007.

Financing Home Improvements

Whether it’s building a swimming pool or replacing a roof on one of your rentals at some point in the future you’ll be hit with an expense right in your pocketbook. Do you finance those expenses or do you pay them out of pocket and how do you decide?

Different home owners will have different strategies for financing the inevitable. After all, if you can’t afford the maintenance on a home you can’t afford the home. But most owners will keep a cash reserve set aside to meet unexpected expenses. How much is enough?

Mortgage lenders have made a general determination of how much in reserves is prudent. This amount in reserves is a minimum of six months’ worth of mortgage payments. If the principal and interest, taxes and insurance payments are $2,000 per month then $12,000 should be enough to cover any surprises.

Obviously, this is the least expensive form of maintenance funds. The funds aren’t borrowed so there are no interest payments to a lender.

The next method of paying for home improvements or maintenance is with a home equity or home improvement loan. A home improvement loan is one loan extended to a borrower for the purposes of home improvement or maintenance. A lender will want to see a list of proposed improvements for the home and may even send out an inspector to verify the improvements have been made.

A home equity loan is not issued for a specific amount but is a credit line extended to the borrower with the house as collateral. An equity loan is much like a credit card; a borrower can use as much or as little of the credit line when needed and pay off the loan over time. This is perhaps the most convenient financing method.

Finally, funds can be pulled out when a property is refinanced. This is called a cash out refinance and funds are withdrawn to be used for other purposes while the borrower is refinancing to a lower interest rate. If a borrower is refinancing for a lower rate and needs some additional funds for a roof, air condition or other improvements, the interest rates on cash out refinance loans are better than an equity loan or home improvement loan.

If you need to finance home improvements or need funds for maintenance, remember you have choices. And if you don’t yet have a healthy reserve account, maybe it’s time to start building one.