Is it viable to live green in South Africa

Is it viable to live green in South Africa

Are you a couple who understands the benefits of living green? Perhaps you started out by separating and recycling your rubbish. Then you read about solar water heaters and installed one into your home. Perhaps you’ve even gone as far as installing rainwater catchments and photo-voltaic solar panels.

But the question is this: What will you do when the time comes to move out? How will you find a home that someone else has invested in as much as you have in your current home?

The sad truth is that converting your home into a green home is often over-capitalizing on your property (depending on the area in which you live). Not many buyers will appreciate your green features enough to give you a return on investment. So unless you’re planning on staying put for a really long time, green features are not always recommended.

Growing accustomed to green living

But let’s say you’ve slowly implemented green features into your home. You’ve added some solar panels. You’re collecting rainwater for your garden. You’ve even had a heat pump installed to save on your geyser costs.

And now the time comes for you and your family to move. All these green features have become such a part of your life. Will you look for a home that has the same green features? How hard will it be to find such a home?

This is a question of finding a new home for sale that offers the same green benefits you’ve come to expect. These may include:

  • Saving money on your utilities
  • Living comfortably and sustainably
  • Being independent of the grid
  • Having a clear conscious about your impact on the environment

Green home development is slow but sure

Well, you’ll be happy to know that slowly but surely, green home development is catching on in SA. Fully green homes are being developed.\

Now buying a home like this is a big decision. You already know that green homes in South Africa cost more than regular homes. But if you’ve done your research, you also know that green homes give you such a large return on investment, the initial price is well worth it.

But you already know that, don’t you? You’ve already experienced the savings and convenience associated with green features. Right?

Not necessarily!

Those bad experiences

You see, there are a lot of people out there who were quickly sold on the idea of living green. They understood that being off the grid would save them money in the long run. They also wanted less dependence on the grid and convenient living. But did they get what they bargained for?

Let’s face it: there are a lot of dubious companies out there who provide dodgy products—or don’t know how to install them. In short, many people in South Africa have experienced problems with their green features. And these problems are often enough to put people off green living for good.

Another issue is the return on investment. If green features are not properly thought through, home owners may not get all the benefits they were promised. This is the case for many home owners—and maybe you are one of them.

So have you been scared away from green living?

These obstacles may easily scare you away from living as green as you’d like. But the truth is, living green is an inexpensive, hassle-free lifestyle that keeps you and your family happy, healthy and safe.

These three objectives are exactly what you should aim for:

  • Happy: If the green features in your home aren’t adding joy and convenience to your life, then something is amiss. Your home should aim to provide you with a happy life by making things comfortable and spacious. Everything you need is always on-hand. In addition, all aspects of the home require almost no maintenance.
  • Healthy: Green living is healthy living. When you consider the five types of insulation all green homes possess, you can be sure your family will remain healthy during the harshest winters. The under floor hydronics radiant heating and cooling also ensures your family’s health without costing you the earth. As opposed to air conditioners, air is able to rise and circulate within the home—instead of circulating what is outside and bringing it into your home.
  • Safe: The location of your home influences your safety. Be sure to choose an area with tight security and a close-knit community culture, making it a safe haven for families who want their kids to be able to play in the street without fear of harm.

Don’t these benefits seem worth it? Living green is a lifestyle that is becoming easier and easier to obtain. A few bad eggs should not put you off pursuing this kind of life.

So what about that initial capital?

Now an immediate objection many have when considering a green home is the price. Green homes cost significantly more than regular homes because of all the extra work and strategy that goes into them.

But buying a green home is actually one of the smartest investments you can make in South Africa at the moment. People invest in properties all the time. They invest in properties with the hope that the value of that property will appreciate in value.

Buying a green home in South Africa is a sure way to get a solid return on your investment. Even though the market for green homes is on the increase, it’s currently a very slow market. This means that, say within five years—when the market for green homes has increased—your home will be worth a lot more than what you paid for it!

Now that’s what we call an overall return on investment. But let’s consider the compounding ROI you receive while living in your green home:

  • You will save costs on water due to the implementation of rainwater harvesting
  • Your electricity bill will be significantly low with the use of photo-voltaic solar panels
  • Low maintenance strategies will ensure that you almost never have to fix up sections in your home such as roof tiles, repainting the walls, rust-proofing the banisters, maintaining the garden, etc.

These savings will add up very fast as the months and years of your stay go by. Soon you will grow accustomed to living in your home at a fraction of normal living costs! Now add these savings to your overall ROI when you sell the home, and you can see how buying a green home makes great business sense.

The responsibility to live green

One also cannot overlook the aspect of living with a clear conscious towards the environment. This human responsibility is wedged into the conscience of most of us. People who have children are especially concerned with the future of the planet and how their lives will ultimately impact life as we know it.

So let’s take a quick look at seven ways a green lifestyle can have less of an impact on the environment:

  1. Utilizing rainwater reduces the need for chemically treating water for home usage. Of course when one person uses less water, this hardly makes a difference. But as the trend grows and more people stop needing municipal water, the need for chemically treated, fluoridated water will begin to decrease.
  2. Insulating a home is a great way to cut down drastically on power usage. Think about it. During the hot months, your electricity usage goes up because of fans, air conditioners and the like. In winter, heaters form a massive part of your electricity bill. But when a home is insulated at the ceiling, the floor, the windows and the walls, each room maintains its temperature for much longer.
  3. Generating and using photo-voltaic solar power ultimately reduces the need for burning fossil fuels. The sun is a limitless source of energy that can be harnessed by us to power our homes. Why use fossil fuel generated electricity when a renewable source is at hand?
  4. Planting a garden that is fully indigenous is a way to work with nature rather than against it. By excluding invader plants from your garden, you give indigenous plants a chance to thrive. And by planting trees and shrubs that are native to South Africa, you ensure little maintenance and watering.
  5. A proper hydronics radiant system uses way less power than conventional heating and cooling methods. By having such a system in your home, you negate the need for grid electricity thereby having less of an impact on the planet’s fossil fuel usage.
  6. Through pipe insulation, water is kept at its temperature for much longer. This means that less electricity is used to heat up water when it is accessed through a tap. Again, this is another contribution to the planet’s welfare.
  7. Finally, by furnishing your home with low maintenance material, fewer chemicals are needed to repair and maintain wear & tear.
    1. For instance, using bamboo instead of tree wood shows an understanding for how important trees are to our environment.
    2. Using aluminum and stainless steel is a great way to ensure long life and low maintenance for your metal fittings.
    3. Roof tiles that don’t require painting mean that fewer chemicals are used.
    4. A decorative approach to gardening uses very little lawn area. This will mean never having to use a lawnmower to maintain your yard.

So as you can see, living green makes you a responsible citizen of the planet. Not only is it cheaper, more convenient and simple, but it’s also the right way to live.

There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t consider buying a green home in South Africa.

If you and your significant other are highly conscious about living a green lifestyle, we’d welcome you to speak to your real estate agent and find out what options are out there. 

Green Smart Home is Profitable, Really

Green Smart Home is Profitable, Really

In a green smart home, photo-voltaic solar panels may be used. When using photovoltaic solar panels, and a grid-tied system with back-up batteries, the electrical running costs are reduced by up to 95%.

And when generating more electricity than we need, we may be paid by the national supplier for feeding that excess back into the grid.

Additionally, when the green home is resold, the initial outlay for green features is fully recouped.

Other ways in which money is saved and profits are increased in a green home are by:

  • Using energy-efficient lighting, heating and air-conditioning systems.
  • Conserving and managing the use of water, using smart technology.
  • Using natural light and air by rethinking the placement of doors, windows, and other openings.
  • Using building materials that provide efficient insulation.
  • Using sensors to control lighting and air-conditioning.

(Source:  https://housing.com/news/building-a-sustainable-future-from-home)

Green at Heart, Down to your Core Being

Green at Heart, Down to your Core Being

What are the benefits of green living?  Maybe we start with recycling, then think about installing a solar water heater.  Maybe we even put in a rainwater tank or photo-voltaic solar panels.

Living green means we are passionate about preserving the planet for future generations.  This is also a healthier way to live, with long-term cost savings.

Within the home, using sustainable materials helps us to conserve our surroundings.  When shopping, we’ll also play our part:

  •  Buy local: This means that less transportation of goods over long distances was required.
  • Honey: Be sure to check for a badger-friendly label.
  • Vegetables: Buy fresh, loose fruit and vegetables (which uses far less packaging)
  • Buy only what is needed, so there is no waste.
  • Opt for eco-friendly biodegradable cleaning products

Let’s go back to nature.

Combo Stove, Gas and Electricity

Combo Stove, Gas and Electricity

A stove which uses a combination of electricity and gas reduces reliance on the grid.  Even when using a photovoltaic solar energy system, the weather may be overcast for an extended period.

One is able to cook or boil water for tea or coffee even when electricity is unavailable – no hauling out the portable stove or having to wait it out until the lights come back.  This leads to comfort and convenience.

Cost-saving benefits are also enjoyed.  One remains unaffected by electricity price hikes and we do not have to use and pay for electricity.

It’s also easier to control temperatures with gas cooking.  With a simple twist of the dial, lowering or raising the temperature instantly, is entirely possible.  This means saving time when cooking.

(Source:  https://betteraddgas.com.au/blog/are-you-cooking-with-gas)

Double-glazing, Windows and External Doors

Double-glazing, Windows and External Doors

Within the home, dealing with the change in seasons usually involves dusting, washing, storage and hauling items out of cupboards every 6 months or so.  Green homes are kept at an even temperature all year round, by means of insulation.

A window or glass door made of 2 separate plates of glass makes up a double-glazing system.  An air cavity traps air between the glass layers – and these air cavities actually insulate the home, keeping us comfortable.

Double-glazing helps retain warm air during winter and cold air during summer – this helps save money in the long run.

Through a combination of insulation materials and techniques, a well-insulated home means that utility costs are reduced by more than half.  Heating the home in winter and cooling it in summer won’t cost nearly as much.

Green at Heart, Saving the Planet one Plastic Bottle at a Time

Green at Heart, Saving the Planet one Plastic Bottle at a Time

Reusing or repurposing products is cost effective, besides being a green idea.  When buying products, one needs to be choosy.  Those products that are made from recycled material and which are recyclable themselves are preferable.

Recycling benefits:

  • Conserves natural resources
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the waste that goes to landfills and the amount of waste that is incinerated.
  • Saves energy
  • Creates jobs

Plastic doesn’t decompose, which makes it a problem for landfills.  It’s best to check which kinds of plastic are accepted by recycling centres.

Plastic products are given different numbers for recycling purposes:

  • #1 (PET) – bottles
  • #2 (HDPE) – used in opaque packaging containers
  • #3 (PVC) – used in toys and window blinds
  • #4 (LDPE) – used in grocery bags
  • #5 (PP) – used in yoghurt and butter tubs and baby bottles
  • #6 (PS) – used in Styrofoam and CD cases
  • #7 (O) – may be mixed plastics

(Source:  greenexaminingroom.com/which-plastic-numbers-are-safe-zero-maybe-2-4-5)

So when green at heart, consider recycling.

The Ultimate #LiveGreenSmart Step Is Living in a Green Smart Home

The Ultimate #LiveGreenSmart Step Is Living in a Green Smart Home

Being green conscious, we may recycle, reuse, reduce and repurpose.

The next and ultimate step is to live in a green smart home.

A green smart home blends green features with smart home technology.  Smart technology is used to manage and further improve on the efficiency and costs of running a green home.  Energy-and-water-efficiency – and comfort are maximised.

From monitoring the water level in the rainwater harvesting tank to adjusting one of the zone temperatures within the hydronics radiant heating and cooling system, smart technology makes living green, easier.

Schedules are set up to run the green features automatically.  We balance comfort and efficiency while doing our part for Mother Earth.  And homeowners who move from traditional homes to green homes are aware that they’ll save on monthly running costs.

Heat Pump, Efficiently Makes Hot and Cold Water

Heat Pump, Efficiently Makes Hot and Cold Water

Heat pumps are designed to work off air temperature.  They use a minimal amount of electricity and work like air-conditioners in reverse.

The heat pump is usually mounted outside the house where it comes into contact with free-flowing air.  Hot air is drawn into the heat pump, where it then passes over a refrigerant.  The refrigerant boils and evaporates, heating up a condenser coil which heats water in the tank – and warm water then flows to the taps.

Dual function heat pumps heats water, cools water down, or heats and cools water at the same time.  This leads to twice as much efficiency.

And while it isn’t convenient to climb into the ceiling to turn down the thermostat, in a smart green home, the adjustment is easily made on a smartphone/computer.

Using or Making Non-Toxic Household Products

Using or Making Non-Toxic Household Products

Use the following household items:

  • Lemon:  is useful against most household bacteria and leaves a pleasant fragrance.
  • White Vinegar:  cuts through grease and gets rid of mildew and odours.
  • Cornstarch:  is used to clean windows and carpets.
  • Borax:  cleans, deodorises and disinfects.

Making Cleaning Solutions:

All-purpose cleaner:  Mix a ½ cup of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of borax into 2 litres of water.  Use to clean the shower, bathroom chrome fittings and windows.

Air Freshener:  Having pot plants inside the house reduces odours inside the home.

Bathroom mould:  Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with 2 parts water and spray onto the mould.  Wait at least an hour before using the bathroom after spraying.

Carpet stains:  Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and spray onto the stains.  Leave for a few minutes, then clean with a sponge, using warm soapy water.

Heavy Duty Carpet Cleaning:  Mix a quarter cup each of salt, borax and vinegar.  Rub the paste into the carpet and leave for a few hours before vacuuming.

(Source:  eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm)

Eco-living Tips

Eco-living Tips

Eco-Sabbath:  Once a week, for an hour or other set time period, don’t use any man-made resources – no buying, using electricity or answering your phone.

Replace your disposables:  When these run out (razors, batteries, etc), replace them with reusable materials.

Buy used goods:  Furniture, such as tables in good condition, costs a fraction of the price of new.

Make your own resources:  Where possible, making your own goods reduces waste.  Make gift bags out of old cereal boxes and cover with old gift-wrap.

Share:  Share books, magazines, newspapers and games between friends and neighbours.

Use less paper (including paper towels):  Store used kitchen swabs in a small container in the kitchen before washing and reusing.

(Source:  globalstewards.org)

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