When planning to build or buy a private house, the visual appearance of the building is often given the most attention. However, in order for the house to have a comfortable climate and temperature, low heating, electricity, and hot water bills, and for the property to retain a high value in the long term, the energy efficiency of the house deserves no less attention.
House construction and purchase on the rise
More and more people are looking for ways to realise their dream of owning a home. According to SEB banka, in 2021, one-third of the total financing for the acquisition of real estate was allocated for the purchase or construction of houses.
According to Arnis Škapars, a member of the Management Board of SEB banka, people are actively looking for finished houses nearby Riga, but when they do not find what they want, they decide to build it themselves.
“When people’s savings grow, there is also the possibility of investing more in the form of a down payment and thus afford more expensive purchases with more financing,” says A. Škapars, adding that the average amount of a loan for the purchase or construction of a private house is over 100 thousand euros.”
The importance of energy efficiency
To avoid the disappointment of a freshly built dream home in the form of high heating bills, fogged windows, cold walls, and mold in the house, close attention must be paid to the energy efficiency of the building – from cold bridges of building elements to building density, air movement, and lighting.
“If five or ten years ago we thought of energy efficiency only in terms of extra insulation, today there are many more criteria that must be fulfilled by high-energy buildings,” says Andris Vulāns, a leading specialist and building physicist at the company Būvfizika.
He points out that it is a misconception that the most important factor is the indoor temperature alone. The expert reminds us that finding a balance between the original construction costs of the building, the heating costs, and the hot water is important. Also, the importance of the different elements should not be misunderstood. For example, the installation of solar panels alone does not make the house energy efficient.
When building a house, do not forget the finer points. People often invest in expensive and energy-efficient windows, but walls and structural elements or cold bridges play an equally important role. If these subtleties are not addressed, the house will inevitably need more heating in the cold months, which in turn means poorer air quality and higher bills.
For example, if the energy efficiency of the building is 120 kWh/m2, the annual cost of heating with natural gas will be about 1,500 euros. Conversely, if the indicator is 45 kWh/m2 per year, the cost of an energy-efficient home heated with natural gas will be about 570 euros. After installing a geothermal heat pump, the cost of heating an energy-efficient home would drop to 270 euros a year.
It is understandable that in-depth consultations with professionals and “refining” a building project down to the smallest detail can take extra time and resources but investing in an energy-efficient home pays off in the long run. It means both predictable and low bills for heating, electricity, and hot water, a comfortable indoor environment and temperature, higher long-term property values, and a positive contribution to the environment. Furthermore, if you decide to buy or build an energy-efficient home, you will also get favourable terms from the bank.