Category

houses and property

How to benefit from the Green Homes Grant Scheme

By | environment, Gardening, Green, houses and property

In the last five years, fuel bills for an average family home in the UK have soared by 40%. In fact, heating a property today costs approximately £1,800 per year compared to £1,290 in 2015. One of the problems lies in the thousands of properties across the UK which lack energy efficiency. Older homes with insufficient insulation can leak warm air. This means more energy is consumed to heat the property and consequentially heating bills will increase.

If you’re a homeowner or landlord, there are improvements you can undertake to mitigate the cost of your energy bills, making your property cheaper to run and more environmentally friendly. However, the initial outlay of such improvements can run into thousands of pounds.

The government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme is helping to address this issue by covering the costs of installing energy efficient updates to your home, which could result in significant annual savings on fuel bills. Here, Donna McCreadie, a property specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants, explains how homeowners and landlords can ensure they are reaping the benefits.

What is the Green Homes Grant scheme?
The Green Homes Grant allows homeowners and landlords to apply for a voucher from the government towards the cost of qualifying energy efficiency and low carbon heating improvements to homes. The voucher will cover two thirds of this cost up to £5,000 or, for households on low incomes or receiving certain benefits, the entire cost up to £10,000. However, landlords can only apply for costs up to £5,000.

What work can be carried out on my property as part of the Green Homes Grant?
Work covered by the scheme is broken down into two parts – primary measures and secondary measures. Homeowners will need to undertake at least one primary measure in order to qualify.

Primary measures are classified as follows:
• Installing insulation in a solid wall, cavity wall, under the floor, in a loft, in a flat roof, in a room in roof or in a park home.
• Improving low carbon heat via the installation of an air source heat pump, ground source heat pump or solar thermal.
• ‘Top ups’ are allowed. For example, the installation of additional loft insulation to meet the minimum recommended level or the installation of solid wall insulation for other walls where a wall has been previously insulated. However, replacements are not included.

Secondary measures cannot be subsidised for more than the amount of cost to carry out the primary measures.

For example, if a household receives £1,000 for primary measures, they can only receive a maximum of £1,000 towards any secondary measures.

Second measures include the following:
• Draught proofing.
• Updating windows and doors: double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazing), secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing), upgrading to energy efficient doors (where replacing doors installed prior to 2002).
• Updating heating controls and insulation. These include appliance thermostats, hot water tank thermostats, hot water tank insulation, smart heating controls, zone controls, delayed start thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves.
• For low-carbon heating, households will need to have adequate wall insulation (cavity wall or solid wall insulation) and, where applicable, loft insulation. These can be installed as part of a package – they do not have to already be in situ.

Which companies accept the Green Homes Grant voucher?
Under the terms and conditions of the voucher, homeowners will need to use one of the TrustMark certified tradespeople listed on the government’s directory of approved installers.

How do I apply for a Green Homes Grant?
If you are a homeowner or landlord visit the Simple Energy Advice’s (SEA) website to find out if you’re eligible for a voucher. Here, you can also access further information and get advice about what improvements will be suitable for your property.

In order to carry out work under the scheme, all tradespeople and businesses will need to be certified to install energy efficiency or low carbon heat measures to relevant standards and must register their certification.

A kid’s guide to moving house

By | family, houses and property, Relationships
by Emma Kenny
Psychologist

Moving to a new house is considered one of the most stressful experiences that a family can go through, and whilst to some degree even the smoothest of moves can pose a fair few challenges, the experience can be made easier when all family members feel involved.
Children, just like adults, feel a whole host of emotions when they contemplate what a move of home and area can bring. These range from elation and excitement to absolute terror, so it is absolutely paramount to understand how your kids feel throughout the relocation process.

Let’s face it, moving home is a big deal, and the more that you can prepare your kids emotionally, psychologically, socially and physically, the better it will be for the family.

Top tips for parents to help children through the moving process:

Communicate and help children verbalise fears
As soon as you firmly decide to move home it is time to begin communicating your decision to your children. Before you sit down with them to discuss the move, make sure that you have created a list of reasons as to why you have decided that moving to a new house will be brilliant. Remember, the more positive and prepared you are, the more convincing you will be, and this will help to reduce any anxiety that your children may have.

Get children to openly discuss and explain any fears or worries that are concerning them regarding the house move. Explain that it is totally normal to feel a bit scared when facing a big change.

Provide children with a sense of control
Children like thinking that they are in charge! It feels good for them to perceive that they have a say, and a certain amount of sway when it comes to what is happening in their life. Get them to sit down with you and list all the fantastic things about moving house. Making new friends, learning new activities or starting a completely new life can be hugely exciting. The most positive you think the most positive they’ll feel. Also take them along with you when doing viewings – this really helps them feel a sense of authority and that they have
a say in the process.

Be prepared for any questions that they have and above all, take their concerns seriously.

Use their imagination
Children love using their imagination to conjure all sorts of fantastical eventualities.
Get them to draw a picture
of their ‘Dream Home’. This could be totally wacky, princess-style castle or a country cottage – whatever they bring to life, will help them understand the concept of moving into a new home and living in a new place.

Do a trial run
As with many things – try before you buy! It can be really helpful for the whole family to spend some fun, laid-back days in the new area before you make the big move there. Knowing where the fun places are will make it seem all the more appealing. A nice welcoming cafe, a park, a library or museum are all good places to draw their attention to and get them looking forward to experiencing more time together in the new area.

Plan how to keep in touch with friends
Leaving friends behind is understandably one of the most upsetting aspects of moving to a new house and area. Don’t minimise your child’s feelings no matter how young they are, as whilst they will make new friends, it doesn’t stop saying goodbye being difficult or leave them feeling sad. Instead, acknowledge that it is tough to leave their friends behind, and discuss strategies that will make keeping in contact with friends really easy.

Encourage them to take a few mementos from your existing home which will remind them of all the happy times they spent there. These can be a few rocks from the garden, or a plant that they can dig up and replant at their new property. This helps your child feel that they still have connections to the home that they have left behind.

Bury a time capsule
Before you move to your new house, create a time capsule in a box filled with memories of how you lived your life in your old home. Many years later you could always return to the spot and open the capsule with your family and share your memories. Have the children write down their favourite memories of their old house and the item they’ve put in the capsule to represent that memory. Just make sure you bury it in an accessible and memorable place!

Make a wish list and give them ownership
Start getting the whole family excited about all the fantastic plans you have for everyone once the move is complete. This can include new activities that your kids can try, such as enrolling in a gymnastics club, or starting with a local theatre group, and you can bring these ideas to life by getting them to research them online. Even better, get them to create a physical wish list of things that they would love to do once they are settled to the new place and then help them set some goals so that they can achieve these wishes.

As you settle into your new house, ensure you allow your child some ownership over the design of their new room. Whilst you may think that letting your little ones go crazy with their imagination could lead to some questionable choices in home décor, it enables them to emotionally bond with their new environment and also provides a focus whilst they settle in.

Creative writing
Work with your child to write a moving home story with a main character that moves with their family. Encourage them to use their imagination and have the main character go through the experience of moving homes with their families and settling into a new place, making new friends and joining new clubs and groups in the new area. This will help them envisage what the new environment will be like and familiarise themselves with the concept of moving home.

Check in with them regularly
It is really important to check in regularly with your children to ensure that they can confide in you any troubling feelings that they may be experiencing. Take 10 minutes each night before they go to bed to discuss their feelings about moving home. This allows them to feel supported and also unpack their feelings so that they don’t lie worrying in bed, because tired kids find the world a great deal more challenging.

There are lots of books available which feature stories about children moving house including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Wrecking Ball or Jenny Eclair’s Moving.

Visit www.purplebricks.co.uk/blog/post/diary-of-a-wimpy-kid for further details and to download ‘A Kids Guide to Moving House’, created by Emma Kenny with Purplebricks, to help families through the moving process.