20 Wednesday, 19 August 2009 London Lite Property&interiors Power houses ofeco energy fuelling your own home has never been easier andMarket moves... A LONDON estate agency has recorded its most profitable month since the peak of the housing boom. Douglas & Gordon, which has 16 offices in the capital, today said that last month was the best in its 51-year history after July 2007. Nearly 1,300 buyers a month are signing up with Douglas & Gordon, which recorded nearly 100 agreed offers last month -- 90 per cent of July 2007 levels. Managing director Ivor Dickinson said: Lack of supply combined with more buyers is creating a bit of a stampede. PROPERTY developer John Hitchcox knows a thing or two about pimping up a pad and impressing the laydeez. The founder of the Manhattan Loft Corporation and development company Yoo is known as the Prada of the property world and has entertained a string of glamorous girlfriends in his Notting Hill home, including Kate Moss, Elle Macpherson and Caprice. However, he is struggling to sell his vast Westbourne Grove bachelor pad, with swimming pool, cinema and music studio. Any would-be playboys with 7.5m to spend can enquire through Strutt & Parker. FAst-FOOD chain McDonalds has been given the go-ahead by tower Hamlets to develop its first major mixed-use development in the UK. the London-Helix project, next to Billingsgate Fish Market in Blackwall, E15, will have residential towers of 29 and 35 storeys that include 355 flats, 48 serviced apartments, shops, offices, a crche and a gym. And of course a flagship McDonalds restaurant. CALLING celeb spotters -- well, those with 3.95m to spare. A three- bedroom apartment in The Belvedere, the flagship development at Chelsea Harbour, is for sale through Knight Frank. Not only does it have superb triple-aspect views over the Thames, Wandsworth and Chelsea, it also boasts two balconies, a home cinema and Sir Michael Caine (right, with wife Shakira) as an upstairs neighbour. by ruth bloomfield G reen technology used to be pricey. But all thats changing -- there are new Government grants available and you can now save money on your bills as well as sell power back to the national Grid. Hugo House, of Good energy (goodenergy.co.uk), estimates that with an average solar installation system you could earn up to 400 a year by selling your unused energy back to the grid. That figure is set to rise next year, when the Government increases payments to encourage more people to produce power. So, just how easy is it to start generating power by adding eco features to your home? HowdoIGetstarted? JOHn ALKer, of the UK Green Building Council (ukgbc.org), recommends getting your home audited, so you know what power-generating gadgets will work for you. He suggests Parity Projects (parityprojects.com) and the energy Saving Trust (energysavingtrust.org.uk) for free and impartial advice. You should also remember that it is a long-term plan and that it will take you some years to make back your outlay. sHouldIGosolar? IF YOU want to fit solar panels, now is the time, with the Government offering grants of up to 2,500 to install energy-generating technology. Once up and running, the power generated is channelled into your domestic supply and anything you dont use can be sold back to a power company. There are two types of panels: the solar thermal (STP), which is used to heat water, and solar elec- tric (also known as photo voltaic, or SVP) which creates electricity. Solar thermal is cheaper (from about 3,000) and smaller (you will need about 2sq m of roof space) than solar electric, which costs from 10,000 and will take up about 4sq m. However, solar electric panels last for about 40 years, while solar thermal panels need maintenance and will last for about 10 years. Both systems are best fitted on south-facing roofs and most will not need planning permission. For details contact the Solar Trade Association (solar-trade.org.uk) and UKPV (uk- pv.org or wesupportsolar.net). And if you are worried about our unreliable British weather, that shouldnt be an issue. Its not about the amount of sunlight, but about daylight, says Charlotte Webster, of Solar Century. CanIHarnesstHewInd toPowerMyHoMe? WInD turbines have been controver- sial ever since Conservative leader David Cameron erected one on his north Kensington home, with debates raging about their efficiency. Buying and fitting an average domestic tur- bine costs between 10,000 and 15,000. Stuart Pocock, of the renewable energy Association (r-e-a.net), says that if your home is in a windy enough area, you could save 400 a year on electricity bills. There are also smaller and cheaper turbine kits on the market. Wind Trap (windtrap.co.uk) offers kits from 599, which are suitable to put on a shed to power overhead lights and tools, and could save 50 a year. HowCanICutMy CentralHeatInGbIlls? A HeAT pump could be the solution. Stuart Pocock believes that pumps which take heat out of the atmos- phere to warm your home are the most suitable for London properties. The pump is about the size of an air- conditioning unit and is mounted on an outside wall, costing between 5,000 and 10,000. If your home is well insulated, a pump could knock 500 a year off your bills. However, the pumps are not compatible with radiators so most homeowners would have to do a refurb to replace them with under- floor heating or ducts. Alternatively, you could have a wood-burning stove fitted. Most open fireplaces can be converted and they are far more efficient. Prices start from 400 and using a wood-burning stove for heat- ing will save about 200 a year. IfIGoGreenwIllIt boostMyHousePrICe? GreenInG your home will save you cash, but estate agent Justin Bhoday, of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, warns it will not dramatically boost your house price. It will, however, make it more attractive to potential buyers, and will rate better in the compulsory Home Information Packs, which reveal how green a home is. A house with this kind of technol- ogy may well open the doors to more buyers, says Mr Bhoday. In addition, the Government is considering linking tax payments to the energy efficiency of homes, so it is not impossible that one day the owners of green homes could get tax breaks. Green garden: the Hunjans, right, built a solar pergola behind their Wembley home index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html