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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
So when green at heart, consider recycling.
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 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.
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.
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.
“A circular economy is one that builds economic, natural and social capital” (petco.co.za).
Plastic bottles are valuable and aren’t actually waste. In modern times, packaging is necessary to get the product to the consumer, but once it has served its purpose, packaging is considered dirty and unwanted.
As an example of how recycled plastic is used, Isotherm is an insulating material that’s made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
Traditional homes usually have ceiling insulation that’s made from fibre glass or asbestos, which isn’t environmentally friendly at all. Isotherm is an eco-friendly and effective alternative.
Isotherm is dust and water resistant, non-toxic, without associated health risks, non-flammable and lasts longer than most other insulating materials.
The humble plastic bottle is humble no more.
Is it then farfetched to Recycle, Reduce, Reuse and ending up living in a green smart home, driving a green smart car, working in a green smart office, and living in a green smart city?