“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?
The most significant way in which one saves money in a green home is through a reduction in the use of electricity and water. Rainwater is a free resource once harvested and solar energy is a free source of electricity, once harnessed.
Minimal water and electricity are needed, in any case, by using insulation, under floor hydronics and a water-wise garden.
Green homes are also low maintenance. Examples of areas in which there are cost-savings, are with the use of naturally-coloured roof tiles, aluminum railings and bamboo counter-tops. Bamboo and aluminum are durable materials and aluminum doesn’t rust easily. Naturally-coloured roof tiles won’t fade and don’t need to be painted.
The biggest return on investment is gained when the home is resold. There is a rising demand for green homes in South Africa.
When we live in a green home for 10 years or less, we get back the investment by saving on utilities and maintenance. And when the home is resold, one receives double the investment (plus interest). So the additional costs for the green benefits are more than covered.
That’s good investing.
Let’s look at ways in which we save money.
The kitchen and bathroom are the best places to start saving water:
- Purchase water-efficient appliances when looking to replace existing ones.
- Don’t be tempted to use dishwashers and washing machines before a full load is created.
- Plug the sink when washing dishes or vegetables and reuse this water.
- When waiting for hot water to come out of the tap, collect the cold water that comes out at first, for use in other areas.
- Install an aerator – when attached to end of the tap, less water will be used, with the same effect.
- Avoid using central heating and under-floor heating. Consider putting in carpets or wooden flooring instead of tiles.
- Use more blankets and layers of clothing in winter. In summer, open windows and create more shaded areas.
- Use the sun to power our home – this is a free source of energy.
Available resources are made use of in an eco-friendly home. Recycle food scraps – making compost means we save money and reduce the amount of waste that is normally thrown away. Composting is an excellent way to live green.
Find a shady area within the garden. A compost heap is between one and five cubic metres wide – so it’s large enough to generate enough heat to break down the materials.
A layer of material such as twigs is required to begun with. Grass cuttings and leaves are then added, and soil is thrown on top. Manure is added when preferred, and more layers are added in this order until the compost heap is approximately 1 metre high.
Vegetable peels, fruit peels, seeds and cores, shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, lawn cuttings, straw, paper and shredded cardboard are used for composting.
Instant hot water access from every tap is possible with a clever plumbing system. A heat pump also uses little electricity, and helps to reduce our carbon footprint.
Geysers use a great deal of energy because they continually have to heat up water and much of this hot water ends up not being used. Maintaining the heat in the water is a method which is used in green homes. Pipe insulation is made use of, as well as insulating the tank where the hot water is stored.
A linked-loop plumbing system is also used, and is insulated. Therefore, hot water is always available throughout the home. When opening the tap, there is no wastage as it comes out hot.
In this way, water and electricity are saved, without compromising on luxury living.
The ability to heat up or cool down any area within the home is a special feature. This is achieved through Hydronics radiant heating and cooling, which is a water-based method of temperature control that uses almost no electricity. This is also an eco-friendly method.
The water in this system won’t cost much as it is circulated through the system over and over.
The home is divided into areas called ‘zones’. These zones have temperature control options which are adjusted, meaning that each zone has a different temperature if required. And as the hydronics system is installed below the surface of the floor, any temperature adjustments are felt within a short period of time.
Rooms are insulated, in order to maintain the set temperatures. Double-bricked walls and Lambdaboard in between the walls create doubly-effective insulation, and this means a further saving on electricity.
In a smart green home, there is the option to make use of the sun to generate free electricity. With a grid-tied system, there is a back-up power supply in the event of a shortfall.
Using a heat pump, combined with a linked-loop hotwater system, hot water is immediately available in the home. Heat pumps are very efficient and need little energy to heat water. Costs are therefore reduced.
In a green home, air-conditioners and heaters are not required. With Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling, the home is fully temperature controlled at minimal cost.
Using rainwater for watering the garden, for the washing machine and to flush the toilets also saves on the monthly water bill.
And using low-flow shower heads and taps saves on water consumption, resulting in great savings for the homeowner.
Using harvested rainwater can make a major dent in the water bill. And when using insulation features, electricity usage is reduced to a large extent.
Hot water insulation reduces geyser/heat-pump costs. And room insulation maintains the room temperature. A radiant heating and cooling system throughout the floor of the home makes temperature control cheap.
All these savings result in a reduction in living costs and eventually, a great return on investment. Within about ten years or less, the extra amount that we paid for the green home is retrieved with these savings. We also gain a profit when we sell such a home.
To add to this, green homes have a low impact on the environment, making them even more valuable.
In a green smart home, one is able to monitor and control every aspect.
At a glance, we see what our electricity usage is and take steps to reduce usage without sacrificing convenience or comfort.
Hot water is always on tap.
With water tanks being used to collect and store rainwater, the water level is checked at a glance, using the smart monitoring system.
The green smart home works with the environment. A full weather report including the temperature and humidity levels is always available on the app.
And with hydronics radiant heating and cooling, and with comprehensive insulation being in place, one walks barefoot and in a t-shirt in winter.
In modern times, we are indoors for most of the day, including the time spent in our cars. And there’s no guarantee that the air we breathe is clean.
Dust, dust mites, fungi, bacteria and viruses are some of the more common air pollutants. Contagious illnesses and allergies are made worse by polluted air.
In a green home, the growth of mould and fungi is minimised. Radiant heating doesn’t produce the same kind of humidity as conventional heating systems. And as radiant heating is made up of a network of water pipes laid over the insulated floor, there is no extra equipment to collect dust within the home.
With traditional homes, chemicals that evaporate at room temperature are based in the materials. This is harmful to our health as well as the environment. Green homes use natural material and finishes and so the air in a green home is virtually chemical-free.