Five years into a recession, many of us can empathise with the famous complaint made by Blackadder to his faithful servant Baldrick: "Sometimes," said the hapless TV character, "I feel like a pelican: whichever way I turn I have an enormous bill in front of me."
But the future residents at The Greenhauses development near desirable Brook Green, west London, will shudder less than most when the utility bills drop through the door. Because, thanks to high-spec sustainability features built into the scheme, their bills are likely to reduce by about two thirds compared with regular homeowners.
The development of 30 homes, which include 13 shared-ownership properties priced from £73,750, will be move-in ready next spring.
It is built to "passivhaus" standards with a heat recovery system which "recycles" warmth.
Octavia Housing, which is developing the scheme, has spent the last year monitoring the power usage of two, three-bedroom Victorian homes in west London — one a regular home with basic insulation the other fitted to meet passivhaus standards.
The annual power bill for the "regular" home was £2,026 while the bill for the retrofitted home came in at just £772 — a discount of more than 60 per cent. Carbon emissions were around 70 per cent lower, too.
The Greenhauses has one-bedroom flats starting at about £73,750 for a 25 per cent share, two-bedroom units from £98,000 and one three-bedroom flat at £125,000 for a similar share.
Priority will be given to residents of Hammersmith and Fulham, and applicants should have a household income of between £19,000 and £60,000 to qualify. Though the scheme will not officially launch until next year, expressions of interest are already being taken at thegreenhauses.co.uk.
Octavia Housing is proud to be pioneering green technology in the shared-ownership sector, but it is not alone in experimenting with environmentally (and purse) friendly techniques. Catalyst Housing (chg.org.uk) has just launched a development of 18 one- and two-bedroom flats in Staines Road, Hounslow, available through the Affordable Rent to Buy scheme.
Residents initially rent a property at Greenway (greenwayliving.co.uk), at a 20 per cent discount, while they continue to save for a deposit. Then they can buy the property on a shared-ownership basis.
The development's cutting-edge sustainable features include a biomass boiler, solar panels and rainwater harvesting, as well as excellent insulation, a ventilation and heat recovery system, and energy-efficient appliances. It is estimated that all this will cut energy bills in half.
The discounted rents start at £720 per month for a one-bedroom flat, rising to £960 a month for a three-bedroom flat, and people who already live or work in the borough of Hounslow will be given priority. The maximum household income is £64,300.
Another green scheme is Aspire@E14, an A2 Dominion New Homes (a2dominion.co.uk) development in Limehouse. Its shared-ownership homes come with a communal heating and hot water system, solar panels on the roof, and heat recovery systems.
The 14 shared-ownership flats still available also have energy-efficient lighting and are highly insulated, although the developer has not made any estimates as to how much these innovations will cut costs.
The properties are priced from £90,000 for a 40 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat, from £110,000 for a 40 per cent slice of a two-bedroom flat, or from £134,000 for a three-bedroom home.