If you’re starting to look into the house buying journey, you’ll be familiar with the complexities involved. At that stage in the house buying journey, so many millennials are forced to turn to mortgage brokers who are out of touch with their interests and values: people who’ve spent their careers prioritising profit over purpose. Thankfully, there’s a new kid on the block: Australia’s first social enterprise mortgage broker, built with the mission to help people in need find their home, and help socially responsible home buyers feel proud of the biggest purchase of their life.
Keen to learn how we can take a sustainable approach to buying a home, we spoke with Natalie and Nicola from the BFG team for their advice.
Buying a home shouldn’t break the bank or cost the earth. In fact, when done well, buying, building or retrofitting a house to be energy-efficient can save you a lot of money. Read on to find out why and how to buy your first home, eco-warrior style.
Why does my house matter?
About 20% of Australia’s carbon footprint comes from household emissions, especially heating and cooling. Reducing household emissions is guaranteed to cut your electricity and water bills, along with countless other costs. Environment Victoria has reported that an energy-efficient home can cut electricity and gas bills by up to 40%, or annual savings of up to $1000 for the average household.
Your financial choices are key to breaking up with fossil fuels. Unfortunately, many big banks in Australia continue to invest in, finance and insure fossil fuels. Choosing a home loan with a bank that invests in a sustainable future is an effective way to put your values into action. It’s also a great way to show your loved ones that environmentally conscious behaviour is financially savvy, rather than expensive.
What makes a house sustainable?
The top two things that make a household sustainable are using renewable energy and energy-efficiency. These things can be accomplished through retrofits or with a house you’re building.
The traditional use of the fossil fuel, gas, has been around as far back as the 1850’s in Australia. By making the conscious choice of switching from gas to electricity to power your home is one step closer in making your home sustainable. Electricity generators and rooftop solar panel installations are key to making this work. Solar panels have an upfront cost that may be steep for many, but quickly become cost-effective over time. You may even get positive electricity bills if enough power is sold back to the grid. Plus, many banks offer rebates that can help cover these costs (more on this later).
A house is fundamentally designed and built to keep you cool on hot days and warm on cold days – an air-conditioner should not be doing most of the work. High thermal insulation, solar shading and passive ventilation are all sustainable methods to naturally regulate the temperature of your house. Again, all of these features have higher upfront costs but become cost-efficient in a few years’ time. Trust us, it’ll reduce your power bills.
Little do people know that the close proximities of your home to public transport and local amenities would make your home more sustainable. Nightingale Housing, a not-for-profit that builds eco-friendly homes, only builds houses located within reach of public transport and other local amenities to facilitate low-carbon transport. Ask yourself – Is your dream home going to be located near a train station, bike/walking paths or a reliable bus network? Alternatively, are you sharing a car? All of these things reduce your travel emissions and travel costs (double car garages ain’t cheap).
How do I buy or build a house sustainably?
Money and sustainability are two things that don’t really get put in the same sentence often. However, banks are making moves to make this connection by offering “green home loans”. A ‘green home loan’ rewards you for buying, renovating or building a house with sustainable upgrades. Here are just a few of the options out there:
There are a few extra steps you will need to go through if you decide to opt for a green home loan. One of these extra steps is to have a Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERs) certificate. If you’re having trouble getting approval on a green home loan, chat to us for assistance.
At BFG, we believe in Pocket & Planet – our purpose is to help more Australians save money while reducing their impact on the environment. We make it simple and transparent for clients to know the impact of the banks they choose for their home loan whilst finding the best price within the ‘sustainable banking’ space
This article was contributed by Nicola and Natalie from Benevolence Finance Group. If you’re keen to chat with the BFG team about taking the first steps on your home buying journey, drop the team a line via the contact page of the BFG Website.
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