Six houses that help you beat your energy bills

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The recent chilly weather means that many of us have had our central heating cranked up to full - and are dreading our gas and electricity bills as a result.

The average UK household is spending £1,066 a year on energy, and prices are expected to go up by an inflation-busting 5% next year.

Of course, there's a good chance that you can save money on your bills by shopping around for a better deal. But some lucky homeowners don't need to bother - and you could be one of them.

We look at six houses that are super-cheap or even free to keep warm.

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Christow, Exeter

This unassuming two-bed semi is part of the new Layne Fields development in Christow, Exeter, in Dartmoor National Park. It's built to the Passivhaus standard, which means that it's air-tight, with a mechanical ventilation system that recovers heat. The developers say that it shouldn't need much in the way of extra heating at all, with annual heating and hot water bills expected to be in the region of £60 per year.

There are 18 two-bedroom houses and bungalows in the development, of which 14 are for rent and the remainder for sale; this one costs £164,000 for an 80% share from Aster Group.

Brownsover, Rugby

On a large plot, this detached house has enough solar panels to supply its own electricity needs during the day - and to make a profit of £1,500 a year to boot. The income is guaranteed for the next 14 years under a government scheme.

There are four good-sized double bedrooms and two reception rooms. There's also a downstairs annexe that could be made completely self-contained and that could be perfect for elderly relatives, teenagers or for an office. The house costs £300,000 from Newman Estate Agents.

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Dordogne, France

If you're looking for a property a little further afield, there's this picture-perfect farmhouse near Belvès in the Dordogne. Fully insulated ad with double glazing, it has a central heating system powered by geothermal energy. Heat from the ground is recovered through a heat pump, keeping the five-bedroom property warm.

As well as the stunning main house, there are two gites and several outbuildings; there are shops, restaurants and a golf course nearby. The house costs £433,828 through Leggett Immobilier.

Marr, Doncaster

If you're on a wind-swept hillside, you might as well make the most of it - and this five-bedroom house near Doncaster enjoys free electricity thanks to a wind turbine and generator. Meanwhile, there's a solar heating system for the domestic hot water.

Formerly a pair of gamekeeper's cottages, the Edwardian property has plenty of original features scattered through its five bedrooms and four receptions. It has lovely views and is great for commuters, situated near junction 38 of the A1. It costs £395,000 through Bsmart Homes.

Cumberworth, West Yorkshire

Near Huddersfield, Upper Holme House Farm sits in glorious countryside with four acres of its own land - and with two extra houses included too. It's got exceptionally low running costs, thanks to solar panels that supply hot water. There's also a 6KW wind turbine with feed in tariffs guaranteed for the next 17 years with a net present value of £50,000, although this is available separately for £30,000. The house even has its own water supply from a spring with its own storage collection and UV filter system.

The main house has six bedrooms, and an adjoining barn and granary have also been converted to provide two one-bedroom houses. Everything's done up beautifully. The house costs £900,000 via Yorkshire's Finest.

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It's back to nature with this old schoolmaster's house in Carmarthen. It has wood/oil fired central heating - and, since it's self-sufficient in wood, it's very economical to run. It also has its own spring-fed water supply. In the five acres of organically managed land there's also a beautiful waterfall which, the agents point out, has potential for a hydroelectric installation. It has been assessed as being capable of producing 1KW of electricity.

As well as the five-bedroom main house, which has many original features, the new owner will get the original school building. This has planning permission for conversion to a three bedroom house. The property has a guide price of £310,000 with agent House Simple.

Most viewed property of the year
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Most viewed property of the year
This unassuming three-bedroom detached house in Martins Heron in Berkshire doesn’t immediately look like the kind of property to draw the crowds. However, the fact it was used as Harry Potter’s home in the first of the films means we were intrigued to see inside this £475,000 property that was ideal for commuting.
This was an impressive seven-bedroom home in Upper Denby, on the market for £1.3 million - with plenty of rustic charm and a wood-burning stove. However, we all know the real reason this made it to the list of the most-viewed properties: it’s the enormous play area complete with pirate ship that you can just catch sight of through the lounge window.
This five bedroom relatively newly-built mansion has every whistle and bell you could wish for - from a cinema and games room to a gym, swimming pool, and a dining room that’s big enough for a grand piano in the corner. It’s still on the market for £1.05 million, and is right next to Lincoln Golf course if you fancy playing a round.
Unsurprisingly, this development project on Chadwick Road in East London has been snapped up. At just £1 million you got 13 rooms over four floors - with off-street parking for three cars. No wonder it was the seventh most popular home for us to look at, and dream that with a bit of elbow grease we could have a huge London property... and we could finally park somewhere near it too.

This is a home that comes with a dream lifestyle. For just £1.4 million, you can get an incredibly swanky five-bedroom farmhouse in seven acres of lovely Welsh countryside. You also get a two-bedroom barn conversion - either to house visiting family, or to run as a holiday letting business. The house is still in the market - so that dream could still be yours.

Ever fancy your own posh lakeside hideaway with its own jetty just over an hour from London - for just £2.8 million?

Quite a few people did, judging by the fact that this new development in Cirencester was the 5th most viewed house of the year.

For just £545,000, this 6-bedroom house in Donaghadee could be yours. The property itself is very recently developed in an elegantly rustic New England style. There's plenty of room, and a dream bathroom. But possibly the reason it features so high up the list of most-viewed houses is that it comes with a paddock and stable - perfect for anyone with horsey aspirations.
It’s easy to see why this pretty £375,000 cottage is in such high demand. First is the fact it has been rebuilt from reclaimed stone, so combines old world charm with handy modern features (like a good-sized kitchen and fancy bathroom). Then there’s the location - right in the centre of the village of Holmfirth - best-known as the setting of Last of the Summer Wine.

This impressive house in Bromley in Kent has footballer written all over it. From the pale grey colour scheme, to the acres of space, and the enormous patio for entertaining, there's plenty for a footballer to love. At just £1.7 million it’s pocket-change for them too. For the rest of us, there’s the chance to dream of a mansion within commuting distance of London for the price of a flat in Notting Hill.

There was a time when a semi-detached five-bedroom home in Hampstead Garden Suburb was the sort of thing that ordinary families could aspire to. Now it's the kind of thing we spend our time daydreaming over on property websites: marveling at a 90 foot garden and the fact it has a garage. The price tag of £2.25 million means it's the kind of house we can only ever afford to look at online - which is probably why it's the most viewed property of the year.
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