Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, Repurpose

Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, Repurpose

These are 4 R’s to help one live greener.

Recycle:  Paper, tins, magazines, glass and other items, when dropped off at recycling sites, is a contribution towards preserving the natural environment.  The more we recycle, the less natural resources we use up to create more products.

Reuse:  Reusing items such as plastic bags means less waste that needs to be gotten rid of.  Tons of waste usually ends up in the ocean.

Reduce:  E-versions of most reading materials are available today.  This means less paper taking up space in our homes.  Also avoid using disposable products.

Reducing electricity needs and water usage are also ways to follow this third ‘R’.

Repurpose:  This means reusing old items instead of throwing them out.  Before buying a new item, we consider whether something that we already have is useful for fulfilling the same purpose.  For example, an old, refurbished ladder is used to display pot plants, instead of buying new tables.

Green Smart Homes

Green Smart Homes

Many are realising that green living has great financial benefits.  And smart home automation systems also help with saving on monthly costs, as well as adding to comfort and convenience.

As an example, smart lighting systems are used.

A sensor in every room automatically switches lights on and off when movement is detected.  This is a luxurious way to live.  At night, when everyone else in the house is sleeping, there is no need to look for light switches in the dark when going into the kitchen or bathroom.

Lighting is one of the easiest areas in which to save energy.

As another example, heat pumps heat water using less electricity than a geyser.  The energy consumption of the heat pump is monitored by the smart home automation system – and it is possible to adjust the water temperature via a smartphone app or computer, adding convenience to one’s lifestyle.

Smart Technology with Laptop and Smart Device App

Smart Technology with Laptop and Smart Device App

Electricity usage is reduced with energy conservation, and smart technology is useful in reducing usage to an even larger extent.

With smart technology, data is continuously collected.  An app, laptop, desktop and/or smart devices are used to view information.  Data is available per minute, hour, day, over weeks, months and even years.  Patterns are thus identified and managed.

As an example, if we increase the temperature within the home at the start of the cold season, the hydronics radiant heating and cooling system takes 24-48 hours to adjust to the new temperature.  When the new temperature is reached, the data on the new electricity usage is available almost immediately.  Whilst maintaining the comfort within the home, we then lower the temperature by a few degrees or so to save on electricity usage.  We thus do not have to wait for the monthly bill before we become aware of the costs.

Thus, smart technology provides added convenience and cost-saving.

Return on Investment

Return on Investment

Green home prices may be higher than that of other houses on the market – however, there is a great return on investment.

Our water bill is reduced by up to 60% when rainwater harvesting is implemented.  (Rainwater is used for washing machines, gardens and toilet flushing.)

Insulation of the home reduces the electricity bill.  Room insulation maintains room temperature and pipe insulation reduces the need to heat up water.

And using hydronics radiant heating and cooling makes temperature control inexpensive.

With all the above savings added up, there is a great reduction in monthly living costs, and this will give a return on investment.  Within ten years or less, the extra that is paid for the home is recouped in this way.

Bamboo Counter-tops and Stair Case Treads, Renewable & Environmentally Friendly

Bamboo Counter-tops and Stair Case Treads, Renewable & Environmentally Friendly

Bamboo is a resource that is quickly renewable.  And when bamboo is used for counter-tops and staircase treads, the home is given a warm look.

Chopping down trees is a big contributor to global warming.  Bamboo is an alternative to tree wood because it grows incredibly quickly.

Also, bamboo doesn’t generate as much oxygen as large trees.  And bamboo is easily cut down, without the need for a lot of machinery and excavation.

Bamboo is such an eco-friendly product that you can happily place it all over your home.  In the kitchen, use solid bamboo counter-tops instead of melamine or granite tops, which are not environmentally friendly.

The surface of the internal stairs is another place where bamboo can be used – the staircases thus have a modern and finished look.

Renewable Resources

Renewable Resources

Here are some renewable resources that are used –

Bamboo:  This material is sustainable and an alternative to wood.  It has a lower impact on the environment but lasts just as long.  Bamboo is used for flooring and counter tops, amongst other uses.

Rainwater:  A green home requires a sustainable water supply.  The cheapest rainwater harvesting methods are actually the most efficient, but the advice of an expert is recommended when installing such a system.  A vendor with an excellent reputation provides us with the best rainwater harvesting system.

Solar energy:  We’ll need to consider our needs carefully.  Photo-voltaic solar panels are the most obvious method for reducing reliance on the grid – we’ll need to ask ourselves how much energy is needed for all our appliances.  There are also ways to reduce the amount of energy that we’ve been using.

Expert advice is recommended here, when looking at ways to lower our requirements.

Hydronics Radiant Heating and Cooling

Hydronics Radiant Heating and Cooling

Through complex under-floor water pipe systems, your home can maintain a steady temperature without high running expenses being added to our utility bill.

The key to the ingenuity of this system is in the installation. A network of pipes is installed throughout the house and connected to two separate tanks—one hot, and one cold. These main pipes form part of a larger network of smaller pipes which are placed between the floor’s foundation and the surface.

Hot or cold water is pumped throughout this network of pipes depending on the temperature selected.

This practical system is laid out over multiple zones throughout the home. Each zone’s temperature is adjusted according to the preference of each family member.

Photo-voltaic Solar Power, Backup Batteries, Grid-tied

Photo-voltaic Solar Power, Backup Batteries, Grid-tied

While we may think that installing photovoltaic solar panels is expensive, they are actually quite affordable. The cost has come down considerably as the demand for alternative energy sources has increased. Today, they cost half as much as they did in 2008 and the solar market has increased substantially.

When solar panels are fitted onto the roof, they are positioned in such a way as to maximise the harvesting of solar energy. Throughout the day, this photovoltaic system will harvest as much solar power as is needed for the home. Anything over and above what is used will be stored in batteries. These batteries, if full, are able to supply the home’s power needs for approximately one whole day.

The sun will run your home’s power while it is shining. But any excess power will be stored. This allows your home to continue running off the grid at night or during thick cloud cover.

As a failover mechanism, the home isn’t physically taken off the grid, and instead the home’s photovoltaic off-the-grid system is tied into the utility electrical grid.

Rainwater Harvesting, with Water Level Meter and Rainwater Sensor

Rainwater Harvesting, with Water Level Meter and Rainwater Sensor

Harvesting rainwater achieves many green living principles. We’re saving potable water which is a valuable resource. And we’re reducing our carbon footprint.

Harvested rainwater is used for garden irrigation, flushing the toilets and for the washing machine.

By installing a smart device app, or navigating to the monitoring website of the smart home, green features are easily monitored and can be adjusted where applicable.

These metrics can be monitored:

  • Rainwater tank level.
  • Rainwater usage.

Rainwater harvesting reduces utility water usage by up to 60%, thereby saving water utility costs.

When establishing an indigenous garden, installing a rainwater sensor, and being able to measure rainwater usage, the irrigation cycles can be adjusted to closely align the rainfall with the water required by the garden, thereby using the harvested rainwater most efficiently, maximising savings and tending to a lovely garden at the same time.

Comprehensive Insulation

Comprehensive Insulation

A well-insulated home can lead to significant savings on monthly electricity costs.  The types of insulation listed here could be used –

Wall insulation:  ‘Lambdaboard’ is made from eco-friendly material and can be fitted between walls, so that less electricity will be needed to heat or cool the home.

Floor insulation:  A thick concrete screed insulates the house from external elements.

Roof insulation:  Most heat inside a home escapes through the ceiling and roof in winter.  In summer, hot air comes in through the roof.  This is why roof insulation is important.

Double-Glazing:  Double-glazing is an excellent investment.  It consists of a window or door made up of two layers of glass with a gap between the layers.  The air trapped between the panes of glass acts as an insulation layer.