An earth-friendly Diwali Dhamaka

An earth-friendly Diwali Dhamaka

Deepavali meaning a ‘series of light’, we say, is the triumph of good over evil and of right over wrong. Traditionally, this festival widely celebrated in India across communities, is a time of family bonding, conversations and thinking beyond oneself.

Lamps are lit, sweets made, shared and savored, gifts exchanged and relationships nurtured.

However over the recent years, this auspicious day has also turned out to be a strain on living standards. Rather than goodness prevailing, there are signs of distress on the things that we value – people, animals and the environment.

Use oil Diyas instead of candles 

Diyas can be re-used multiple times and are made from earth-friendly material.

Make your rangoli with flowers, natural colours or rice flour

Kolams or rangoli was a way of sharing our food and life with insects and birds. Even today, in villages down south, the Kolam is made with either rice paste or dry rice flour and becomes a feast for ants and small birds.

Give a handmade gift

Enthusiastic about giving and receiving gifts? Choose gifts that are made from natural materials like a jute or cloth bag, cloth purse, a cotton kurta or saree.

Inculcate compassion in your children

A green Diwali is obviously one with no crackers. Many schools have taken the responsibility of educating children with the harmful effects of fire crackers that are available in India.

At www.Passion thats Green.com, in this article, An earth-friendly Diwali Dhamaka, are interesting, easy and fun ideas to have an earth-friendly Diwali Dhamaka. Stay inform about earth-friendly living.

Hugo, the eco-friendly living entrepreneur, shares his passion

Hugo, the eco-friendly living entrepreneur, shares his passion

“Follow your passion, because if you don’t believe 100% in what you are doing, you won’t make it through the challenging times to get to the rewards…”

Touwsberg Private Game and Nature Reserve, about three hours’ drive from Cape Town in the Little Karoo, is a self-contained biological and geological eco-system and home to a variety of fauna and flora.

Hugo La Grange-eco-friendly-entrepreneur

Hugo says “I’m the third generation of the La Grange family to work and live at Touwsberg Private Game and Nature Reserve, and my interest and core passion lie in sustainability and eco-friendly living. The industry is taking a very positive turn towards more sustainable development and ever-growing technology and development keep this industry dynamic.”

Hugo, the eco-friendly living entrepreneur: Shares his passion for eco-friendly living. Stay informed on all things eco-friendly-living.

 

Review: Taking a Closer Look at Drinking Water Filters: Did You Know This About Your Water Filter?

Review: Taking a Closer Look at Drinking Water Filters: Did You Know This About Your Water Filter?

When looking clinically and in a balanced way at drinking water filters, considering costs, replacement intervals, filter capability, filter recycling and the filter’s effect on our carbon footprint, how many drinking water filters would make the cut?

And importantly, do any water filters tick all the boxes and stand out as a best of breed product?

Reviews.com, elaborates on How We Found the Best Water Filters. A worthwhile review. Stay informed.

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.

9 Eco-friendly ways to keep warm this winter

9 Eco-friendly ways to keep warm this winter

Unless you’re a swallow, following the sun to avoid a chilly winter just isn’t possible for most of us. But you don’t have to dread the long, cold nights if you follow the simple tips in this article. Not only will your home be cosier, you’ll be saving money and saving the planet.

Most of our methods for combating the icy blasts of winter involve using electricity. And that’s why we expect to see a spike in our yearly electrical bill between June and August. But with the increasing costs of this source of energy, it makes sense to look for more affordable alternatives. You don’t have to deprive yourself of warmth and comfort—just be smarter about the way you use it.

# 1: Draft-proof your house

The key to keeping your home cosy in winter is insulating it. That way the warm air stays inside, and the cold air stays outside. So take the time to check for any air leaks. Doors, windows, plumbing and wiring holes are the most obvious spots for air leaks.

Arm yourself with a tube of exterior silicon caulk or some insulation strips and get to work patching up the gaps. And don’t forget the gap between your doors and the floor. You can use a simple door sweep to solve this problem.

These are in-expensive measures you can take to insulate your home without impacting the environment. You may still need to use a heater to warm up the air inside your home, but it will be more efficient with proper insulation. And you’ll see a real reduction in your energy bill over the winter months.

# 2: Close the door to unused rooms

Remember, it’s much easier and more energy efficient to heat a small space. So cut down on the area you have to heat by closing doors to unused rooms. You could even roll up a towel or mat and use it at the bottom of the door to stop any air leaks.

That way you aren’t spending energy heating up an area that’s not in use. If it’s unlikely that you’ll need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, then close your bathroom door before you go to sleep. This is good advice when it comes to bathrooms and guest toilets.

Bathrooms are usually completely tiled which makes them very cold in winter. Closing your bathroom door will prevent the cold air from seeping out and finding its way into your bedroom while you sleep and lowering the temperature while you sleep. You’ll sleep better in a room that’s comfortably warm and once again, it will reduce the amount of energy you use to keep your bedroom at the right temperature through the night.

# 3: Use a hot water bottle to heat your bed

The hot water bottle versus the electric blanket always stirs up a passionate debate. From an energy perspective you could argue that an electric blanket is more efficient than boiling a kettle. But that’s only if you use it to warm up your bed and switch off the moment you climb in. But how many people can really resist leaving it off the whole night?

By contrast, a hot water bottle does require more energy, but the effects last longer without the need for continually consuming expensive power. The trick is to wrap your hot water bottle up and place it at the bottom of your bed at least half an hour before you go to sleep. This gives it time to warm the bed up before you get in. And you can un-wrap it during the night to release more warmth as you need it.

You could even use a microwaveable hot water bottle to save on heating costs. And you’ll still have a toasty place to lay your head in winter without putting a big dent in your electricity bill.

# 4: Leave your oven door open after cooking or baking

Winter is the perfect time to indulge in some comfort food. So after whipping up a tray of chocolate chip cookies or a tummy-pleasing macaroni and cheese, leave your oven door open. All the power used to make these delicious things results in a lot of heat that goes to waste if you simply close the oven door once you’re done.

Leave the door open though, and you’ll fill your kitchen with some warmth (and a homely smell) while you enjoy the fruits of your domestic labour. And your kitchen will still be cosy as you get working cleaning up afterwards. If you’re serious about reducing electricity costs and saving the planet, small habits like this can make a real difference in the long run. You should always look for ways to get the most out of the electricity you use—especially in winter.

# 5: Invest in a humidifier

The air in winter is not just colder, it’s also drier. So it’s no surprise that many people use a humidifier in the colder months to make their homes more comfortable. Using a humidifier has a number of benefits:

  • It keeps your skin moist so you won’t suffer from scaly skin and chapped lips.
  • Your wooden furniture will last longer and won’t dry out which often results in shrinking and cracking.
  • You won’t suffer with a dry throat and nasal passages from breathing in cold, dry air all the time.

But the great thing about humidifiers is that they actually save you money on your heating bill. Moist air feels warmer, so you’ll be able to turn down your thermostat and still have a cosy, comfortable house. You need to do your homework though and make sure you’re getting the right kind and size of humidifier to suit your needs. Think about the size of the room you’ll be using it in, and how convenient it is for you to refill it.

If you’re not ready to spend money on a humidifier, you can always buy some indoor plants. They’ll help to add more moisture to the air in your home. Or, you could open the bathroom door after a hot shower and let the moisture and warmth spread out into your home.

With the right humidifier in place you can enjoy the health and comfort benefits of warm, moist air throughout the winter and save on heating costs.

# 6: Change the direction of your ceiling fan

We’ll bet you never thought about this nifty trick. Ceiling fans are designed to spin anti-clockwise and force warm up and away during the summer months. But by reversing the way they rotate you can use this to your advantage in winter. That way the warmth is forced down to where you really need it.

Most fans have a switch that you can use to change the direction in which the blades spin. And this little trick is perfect for rooms with high vaulted ceilings which are difficult to heat up in the winter. Just set the fan on its lowest setting to keep the warm air moving downwards, and your space will feel just as cosy as a smaller room.

Once again, this is a more efficient use of energy than just relying on running heaters at high temperatures for a long period of time.

# 7: Use a space heater and only heat the room you’re using

There’s no need to constantly heat your entire house in winter. It’s expensive and it wastes electricity. So get used to using smaller heaters to warm up the room when you’re in it. That way you stay warm and comfortable without running up a huge bill in the process.

The rooms you use most often are usually the kitchen and living room, so don’t worry about the bedrooms until just before you turn in for the night. Get the heater on while you bath or shower; that way the room will be warm and snug when you come out.

# 8: Put rugs down on tiled floors

Not all homes have carpets in every room, so when winter hits invest in some large, thick rugs to make your floors more comfortable. Unless you have underfloor heating (which can be expensive), heating the tiles in your home is almost impossible.

And while walking barefoot across a cool, tiled floor is heavenly in summer, in the winter it’s a nightmare. So indulge in your passion for interior décor and add some rugs to up the cosiness and save your feet from an unpleasant experience.

# 9: Dress warmly and make a hot drink

It goes without saying that when winter strikes you need to dress warmly. Throw in a cup of tea, coffee or even hot chocolate and you’ll be as snug as the proverbial bug in a rug. It’s easier to raise your body temperature than warming a whole house. And it’s cheaper too.

So get out your blankets, wraps and slippers and enjoy everything that winter has to offer.  After all, it only lasts for a few months every year.

Unless you live in a home that has been purpose-built with expert insulation and double-glazed windows, the truth is that you are going to need to use electricity to maintain a certain level of comfort throughout the winter.

But there are ways to stay warm, save money and conserve energy. Just keep the following in mind:

  • Insulating your home is an inexpensive, sure-fire way to reduce your electricity bill. So look for ways to stop warm air getting out, or cold air getting in and seal them up. You’ll benefit from a properly insulated home in the summer months too.
  • Don’t let the heat you do generate go to waste. Think of all the things that create warmth in your home. You heaters, oven and even your shower can make the air around your warmer. Get the maximum benefit from all of these heat sources and find ways to contain it.
  • Heat smaller areas and save. If you’re not using it—don’t heat it. This is another way of ensuring that the heat you create isn’t wasted.

Green homes must be so well insulated that you hardly notice the change in seasons.  They should feature insulated ceilings and walls, floors and pipes and make use of double-glazed windows and glass doors to render the fluctuations in temperature throughout the year almost non-existent.

Combine that with a hydronics radiant heating and cooling system and you’ll have a comfortable and cost-effective environment. So if you’re in the market for a new home, it’s worth looking at one that already has the insulation you need  for a cosy winter.

Your green home checklist

Your green home checklist

Being involved in the construction of your own home is exciting. You’re calling the shots and it’s only natural that when you’re making that kind of investment that you want everything to be perfect. And it stands to reason that what you chose now will influence your lifestyle and that of your family for years to come.

It’s no different when building a green home. In fact, it requires even more thought and planning to build a home that’s not just beautiful, practical and cost-effective, but in harmony with the environment too. So where do you start? This green home checklist should give you something to think about.

Location, location, location

When shopping for a new home, most people consider location to be the most important factor. You want to be close to your place of work, in an area with convenient shopping, entertainment and schooling. It also needs to be safe and have the right infrastructure in place for comfortable living.

But when you’re buying or building a green home you have to take it one step further. Look at the site conditions of your future home and whether it has the necessary qualities such as enough space for rainwater harvesting tanks and access to clean air and water.

Building position and orientation

You’ll want to orientate your home in the best position to take advantage of what the site you’ve chosen has to offer. In the southern hemisphere, a north-facing position is best as it allows you to make use of sunlight to warm your home in the winter and keep it cool in the summer.

Knowing where to place your windows, what size they should be and what the best spot for solar panels would be are all crucial elements when it comes to building a home that is energy efficient. After all, the purpose of a green home is to work with nature and not against it. Getting the basics right from the start will have a significant impact on the practical operating of your home and determine just how efficient it can be.

Get savvy with your layout

This is an important part of turning your green home dream into a reality. When planning the layout of your home take the orientation of the building into consideration. Think about which rooms need natural light and heat to reduce your electricity costs. Look at the flow of air around the building and how you can use natural ventilation to your advantage.

The way you layout your home can go a long way to reducing your construction costs too. So don’t focus only on the aesthetic. Be practical about how your home will function now and in the future.

Choose the right building materials

You might think that green construction is all about using materials that are sustainable and don’t poison or damage the environment. And while that is certainly true to some extent, it’s essential to be practical about this element.

All materials have strengths and weakness when it comes to being eco-friendly. While the production of a certain material may be more sustainable, it might not be very durable. In which case, you’d have to replace it or maintain more often. And that may have a negative impact on the environment. For example, bamboo is an excellent substitute for traditional wooden structures in a home such as counter tops and even flooring. It’s a fast growing plant which means it’s more sustainable than other woods. But the finishes used on bamboo may contain toxic chemicals to ensure its durability. Find out as much as you can about the sourcing and manufacturing of various construction materials before you commit to using them in your design.

Try to achieve a balance between using materials that are sturdy, don’t require much maintenance, are sustainable or recyclable and aren’t produced using methods and techniques that are harmful to the environment. Building a green home requires you to think farther into the future than you would with any other type of home. The initial layout will cost more so you should think of it as a long-term investment. Choose wisely now and you’ll reap the benefits well into the future.

Add green features for future cost savings

A home may be considered green when it incorporates technologies that reduce or eliminate your reliance on the normal infrastructure associated with housing. So make sure these elements are part of your initial plans:

  • Insulation:A home that is properly insulated is easy to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. This means you’ll draw less power from the grid to live, work and play in comfort. Insulation should be built into the structure, between exterior walls and in the ceiling and flooring.

You won’t need to use an air-conditioner or heaters to maintain the temperature of your home throughout the year. Not only will you save on electricity, but you’ll reduce the demand on the grid and reduce the risk of outages which affect everyone.

  • Rainwater harvesting:With green homes these large tanks can be hidden underground reducing the amount of space they need and ensuring that your property looks as attractive as a regular home. It also means you’ll have a supplementary supply of water available for flushing toilets or watering your garden.

By making use of rainwater, you’re not only saving a precious resource you’re also saving costs.

  • Solar panels:Can a home really be green if it doesn’t have solar panels? These are essential for anyone who wants to reduce their reliance on the grid and power their own home. The size, type and number of panels depend on several factors. Careful planning will ensure that you have enough power available for necessities or to run your full household, including for your lights, TV and appliances.

And given the constant sunshine available in South Africa, relying on solar panels to power your home isn’t just wishful thinking. You may need back-up batteries, but if you’re building a new home from scratch these can easily be incorporated into your design. And you’ll never have to worry about being unable to power the things you need if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Solar panels are also perfect for heating your water which has a double cost-saving effect. Not only do you save on electricity, but you could have hot water on tap, meaning you don’t waste it just waiting for the hot water to reach the right temperature – thus saving on water too.

  • Hydronics radiant heating and cooling: This is a clever system that uses a network of pipes to run hot or cold water through the floor of your home. It’s a cost-effective way to maintain the temperature without resorting to power hungry heaters or air conditioners.

And if the pipes are properly insulated, the system is not only more effective, but a cheaper method of keeping your home at a comfortable temperature through all seasons.

You may not be able to afford all of these things right away. In which case, you’ll need to decide which are the most important to you. Retrofitting an existing home with green features can be more difficult and costly. Do your research and work with a company that has expert knowledge to help you make the right decision for your family.

Think outside the box

Your home isn’t just about the building you live in. It’s also about your surroundings such as your garden and garage.

Wherever possible, you should look to reduce the maintenance costs of these often neglected areas. A water-wise garden doesn’t just make financial sense; it also makes a difference to the environment. Use indigenous plants to cut back on the water required to keep your garden looking good all year round. And you’ll appreciate how much less maintenance it requires too. Instead of spending hours tending to your garden, you’ll be able to just relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Even your garage should be planned using the principles you apply to your home. Consider its position and location and use green building materials for the construction. A garage can be a dark place, so look for ways to include natural lighting and use energy-efficient LED bulbs to light it up at night.

If your garage is attached to your home, it makes sense to factor it in to your plans. A cold concrete floor could result in an icy draft making its way into your home through a connecting door. So use insulation cleverly to complement the rest of your home.

All garages have a roof, which means they can be used to collect run-off water. This water can be stored in a tank and used for general cleaning purposes. At minimum it is efficient and eco-friendly to use run-off water from your garage to wash your car.

The benefits of green construction

Many people feel that investing in a green home is an unnecessary expense. Yes, they do cost more to build but in the long term the savings are substantial. Apart from that, there are many other benefits to green living:

  • Your impact on the environment is minimal: Green buildings reduce energy usage, CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage.
  • It’s healthier: Improved indoor air quality means you’re less likely to suffer from common respiratory ailments.
  • It increases the value of your home: If you should ever need to sell your property you’ll be pleased to discover that a green home commands a higher price.

And once you get down to planning your green home, you may be surprised to find that it doesn’t cost that much more than a traditional one. The key is to work with experts who are knowledgeable in the area of green construction. They’ll be able to give you good advice and know where to get the features and eco-friendly materials you need.

It’s not just how you build; it’s how you live

Building a green home doesn’t stop at using eco-friendly construction materials or adding green features to save you money, it’s about the way you live your life. You’re conscious of the impact you have on natural resources and extend this way of thinking into every area of your life, from how you use your car to recycling your waste whenever you can.

The many benefits of living in such a home should not be taken for granted. It can be at least as comfortable as living in a traditional home, even luxurious, and with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’re treading as lightly as possible on our planet.

Combining green features and smart technology in eco-friendly homes

Combining green features and smart technology in eco-friendly homes

More South Africans are starting to express an interest in living in eco-friendly homes. Once considered to be the preserve of the eco-conscious, more people are realising that green living has serious financial benefits. The same could be said about smart home automation systems. Although they’re not common in this country, as the technology develops, they are becoming more popular and have a number of benefits when used in green homes. In this article we’ll look at some of the ways smart home technology is used in eco-friendly houses.

Smart home automation for temperature control

The first thing to know about green homes is that they are properly insulated. Unlike traditional homes, green home developers understand that complete insulation makes it easier to manage the temperature inside the home. As the seasons change, homes that are well-insulated are easily adjusted to the temperature fluctuations. Insulation inside the walls, the floor and the ceiling, combined with double-glazing, in the winter keeps warm air from escaping and cold air from entering, and in summer, prevents cold air from escaping and hot air from entering.

In addition to insulation, many green homes use a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. This consists of a network of pipes connected to the hot water tank and the heat pump. Warm or cold water is pumped through the pipes to change the temperature in different rooms. It’s an energy-efficient system that provides consistent results. And has the ability to have different temperatures set for different rooms. That means concentrating on rooms which are occupied without using energy on rooms that aren’t occupied.

The pipes used in the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system are covered by a thick screed which acts as a conductor of the required temperature from the network of water pipes. The entire construction of the system is designed to be energy efficient. And this is only one area where smart home automation increases the energy-efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the system.

Smart home automation systems make use of  apps that are accessible via a smartphone or computer: To monitor, manage and adjust the temperature settings for each area in the home. This smart home automation system certainly is convenient to adjust the temperature, though it’s not the main thing about the smart technology.

The real advantage of the smart home system lies in the amount of information it gathers regarding the heating and cooling energy consumption. At a glance it’s possible to know how much energy the system is using to maintain the required temperatures, and enables taking immediate steps to reduce the electricity consumption by adjusting the temperature by a degree this way or that way, without sacrificing comfort. Over time, patterns and trends are available to budget accordingly. Or, adding new technologies to further reduce power consumption and measuring their effectiveness.

The system enables supporting a number of handy home automation systems, and is used most effectively to maximise energy-efficiency in the areas that use the most power. Installing smart technology infrastructure enables the monitoring and managing of the home’s power consumption, and even to improve the energy-efficiency.

Smart home automation for smart lighting solutions

A sensor in each room detects movement and automatically switches the lights on and off. While committed to greener living, this type of automation does make life more luxurious. When waking during the night no need to fumble for the light switch while on the way to the kitchen or bathroom. Who wouldn’t want to move about their home with lights turning on and off like magic?

Once again, the benefits of the system go far beyond making life more comfortable and convenient. Though lighting is one area that uses energy, it’s one of the modern conveniences that’s impossible to live without. And it’s one of the easiest places to save energy.

With a smart home automation system, no need to remember switching lights off when leaving the room. The sensor responds to motion, and does it automatically. Even saving a small amount of energy by switching off the lights in unoccupied rooms saves money. And as the cost of electricity increases, so will the savings.

Once again, the power consumption is visible with the smart home app. At any time, over days, weeks and months. This helps to budget for monthly running costs and enables bringing costs down. Green living is a balance between comfort, luxury, saving on running costs, lowering our carbon footprint, saving on resources, the environment and the planet.

Smart home automation to monitor your heat pump

Heating the water for daily needs takes a significant amount of energy. Once again, eco-friendly homes use energy-efficient heat pumps or solar water heaters to reduce the costs of heating water. Also available are linked-loop systems, so hot water is available within seconds of turning on a tap. It’s one of the ways green living is more luxurious than living in a traditional home. No need to wait for the water to heat up before stepping into the shower, or when washing hands in winter.

And that luxury all comes at a reduced cost. Heat pumps take the heat out of the air and use it to heat water using less electricity than a conventional geyser. In a green home the pipes are insulated which helps to maintain the temperature of the hot water [and cold water] and saves more electricity. As with any green home, every element has been designed to maximise energy-efficiency.

The power consumption of the heat pump is included in the data gathered by the smart home automation system. Not only does this make it easier for homeowners to get a clear picture of their energy usage, it is possible to adjust the temperature of the water via the smartphone app or computer.

Turning down the temperature for the hot water tank, even by a few degrees, makes a big difference to the monthly electricity bill. It’s never been convenient to climb into your roof simply for the sake of turning down the thermostat. In a green smart home, everything is straightforward and easy to access, simply make the adjustment on the smartphone or computer.

And because it’s possible to monitor the effects of temperature changes, tweaking the temperature to find balance and efficiency is easy. Living greener does not require giving up a comfortable lifestyle. In fact, it makes running a home easier, more cost-effective and even fun. Hot water is one of moderns life’s necessities, and now it’s possible to contain energy and costs. By combining green technology with smart home automation, it easy to maximise the heat pump’s energy-efficiency.

Smart home automation to monitor rainwater tank levels

Electricity isn’t the only precious resource used in our homes. Water is essential for daily cooking, cleaning and bathing. Given our current drought situation, saving every drop is a habit we’ll all benefit from. That’s why many green homes include rainwater harvesting tanks. Collecting rainwater which is used for garden irrigation, flushing the toilets and for the washing machine is the ideal way to reduce the strain on the municipal water supply, oh, and our pockets.

In urban areas, most of the rainwater is lost. That’s why it makes sense to collect and store rainwater wherever possible. Rainwater tanks can be installed underground. This saves space and extends the lifespan of the tank as it’s not exposed to the elements. It also means that the system requires little maintenance. Yet more proof that green living is convenient.

The rainwater tank is connected to the municipal supply, so should the level in the tank be used to the lower threshold, the system automatically switches over to the municipal water. With new rains it automatically switches back to rainwater usage. One of the benefits of harvesting rainwater is that it reduces the monthly water bill. Monitoring the rainwater tank levels is useful. That’s why a sensor is installed in the rainwater tank, feeding information to the smart technology system. Once again, the level and water usage is accessible via the smartphone app and the computer.

This information is captured continuously to observe the levels over the course of days, weeks, months and years. This is where the real advantage of combining a green feature with smart home technology really shows itself. This data makes it easy to identify patterns and trends. Although it’s difficult to predict rainfall, the data provides a clear picture of how much rainwater is used in and around the home over a period of time.

With this information it’s easy to budget accordingly, or take steps to reduce water usage. The more aware we are of how much water we use, the easier it becomes to find ways to reduce our consumption. And the added benefit of living in eco-friendly homes is that savings are made without giving up the things that make modern living convenient.

Green homes are built to use resources such as power and water efficiently. All the green features that make these eco-friendly homes efficient are monitored and managed by using smart home technology. It’s not only because smart home systems make it easier to adjust settings of the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system, or automating the lights to respond to motion. It’s because of the information you have available about the home without any extra effort, which in turn enables monitoring and managing such a home efficiently. 

Information is power and when serious about living green, it makes sense to investigate adding smart home automation to a green home. It allows you to maximise the energy-efficiency of the home and gather valuable information that helps refine every element of their green designs. It’s clear that green smart homes are setting the standard for future home developments.

Affordable and eco-friendly ways to keep your home cool this summer

Affordable and eco-friendly ways to keep your home cool this summer

Are you getting bored with your winter wardrobe? Tired of having hearty winter stews and soups for dinner every night? Well, it won’t be long before you’re complaining about the heat and searching for ways to cool down. This summer, instead of turning on the air-conditioner for instant relief from the heat, try some of these green living tricks instead.

  • Keep your curtains and blinds closed.

Did you know that up to 30% of unwanted heat comes from your windows? If you keep your blinds and curtains closed, you can stop the heat coming in and turning your home into a mini-greenhouse. It’s a simple tip that can lower the indoor temperature by a few degrees.

  • Make an eco-friendly air-conditioner.

Just because you decided to try living green doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Fans don’t use as much electricity as air-conditioners, so try this handy tip. Fill a mixing bowl with ice (you could also us an ice-pack) and position it at an angle in front of your fan. When you switch the fan on, you’ll be hit with a blast of super-cooled air. It works like a charm!

  • Get a breeze going.

This is essential for hot summer nights when you’re battling to fall asleep. Open windows on opposite sides of your room, or house to let the cool air flow through. As the earth cools down during the night, the air gets cooler too. With a gentle breeze wafting over you as you drift off, you’ll drop off in no time.

  • Sleep on a buckwheat pillow.

Another tip to help you get a good night’s sleep in the hot summer months is to invest in a buckwheat pillow. Unlike synthetic fibres, buckwheat hulls allow the air to flow through the pillow. They don’t trap your body heat and you won’t wake up with a sweaty head in the morning.

  • Set your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise.

You don’t have to abandon all your creature comforts for the sake of greener living. Make the most of your ceiling fan by adjusting it every season to achieve the effect you want. By setting the blades to rotate counter-clockwise in summer, warm air that accumulates near the ceiling will be blown away. You’ll have the benefit of cooling breeze to help you beat the heat.

  • Keep your cool.

It’s easier to lower your body temperature than trying to cool your whole house. So keep a supply of ice-cold drinks, ice lollies and cold cloths on hand. Add ice to your drinks and dress in loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Water helps you regulate your body temperature, so keep hydrated.

  • Turn on your bathroom fan.

By pulling the hot air out of your bathroom after a steamy bath or shower, you can stop that heat from seeping out into the rest of your home. The exhaust fan in your kitchen is used the same way.

  • Change your incandescent bulbs for CFLs.

Incandescent bulbs are energy hungry and spill almost 90% of their energy in the form of heat. On the other hand, CFLs use less power to generate light and they don’t spill as much energy. You’ll be saving money and living greener if you make the switch.

  • Have a braai.

South Africans need little encouragement to heed this suggestion. When using your oven it sends the temperature in your kitchen soaring. Make a fire outside and enjoy some al fresco dining in your garden. A different way to enjoy a beautiful summer’s evening?

  • Experiment with no-cook recipes.

If you really want to save electricity, money and keep your home cool, try out some no-cook recipes. There are plenty of tasty dishes to concoct without ever turning your oven on. If you’re rather cook, how about using a slow cooker. Prepare your meal in the morning and return to a delicious meal at night without the heat.

These little tips helps beat the heat. And if you’re prepared to spend a bit of time and money, there are some bigger projects to cool your house down for the many summers to come.

How to heat-proof your entire home for summer

Eco-friendly houses use green technology to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. Before the foundation is laid, carefully planning ensures that the house is orientated correctly. In the Southern Hemisphere, homes that face north are naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The orientation of the house makes the most of the natural sunlight that falls as the earth rotates.

And eco-friendly homes are insulated. Insulation prevents warm air escaping in winter and hot air from entering the home in summer. To help maintain an even temperature indoors, a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system is ideal. It uses little energy and allows for the management of individual temperature zones. Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling systems comprise of a network of pipes to pump warm and cool water under the floor. That means walking bare feet on a tiled floor in the middle of winter without discomfort.

With this technology, eco-friendly houses are expensive. Though you recoup your costs with excellent savings on electricity, water and maintenance. If you’re not ready to invest in an eco-friendly home, there are some things you can do to embrace greener living and keep your home cool.

  • Insulate your ceiling.

It’s one of the best investments you can make. Use an environmentally-friendly material. Reap the benefits of ceiling insulation. It makes your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. You’ll save electricity and have a comfortable indoor environment to enjoy for years.

  • Insulate the rest of your home.

Take a weekend, grab some caulk and weather stripping and set to work patching up gaps in your window and door frames. You’d be surprised what a difference it will make to the temperature in your home throughout the year.

  • Get a blanket for your geyser.

By insulating your geyser you’ll stop the heat it radiates from escaping into your home. And, your geyser will be more energy efficient so you’ll save on electricity every month. Another financial benefits of living green.

  • Add awnings to your windows.

Not only do awnings make your home attractive to potential buyers, they’ll also stop the sun from shining right into the room in summer. Cooling and attractive, awnings are a great additional to your arsenal to contain high temperatures.

  • Plant trees and shrubs.

What could be a better example of green living than planting some carbon-dioxide loving shrubbery? And if you plant them in the right place, you’ll keep your home cooler too. Planting just three trees in strategic positions helps reduce your heating and cooling costs. Place them in front of windows that get the sun in summer, or use them as wind breaks to protect your home from icy wind in winter.

  • Paint your roof a light colour.

A light coloured roof reflects the heat of the sun and reduces the temperature inside your home. You could also paint your terrace in a lighter colour to increase the effect.

  • Go for double-glazed windows.

Double-glazing refers to a window made of two panes of glass with a space in-between. This space could be filled with gas, or left empty. Double-glazed windows help to insulate your home. As with other forms of insulation, these types of windows help keep eco-friendly homes cool in summer and warm in winter.

  • Install a solar attic fan.

As the name implies, these fans run on solar energy which makes them perfect for living green. They run quietly, require virtually no maintenance and help to cool your home down. Plus, they’re not that difficult to install.

  • Add a roof vent.

Add a roof vent to help with the airflow and reduce the amount of heat that accumulates in your ceiling space. You could have a go at installing it yourself to save money.

Implementing one or more of these tips will go a long way to make your home cooler in summer without adding to your carbon footprint. Living green does not mean you have to sacrifice modern conveniences. It’s about thinking differently to benefit your quality of life while saving.

Turning traditional homes into eco-friendly homes does require spending quite a bit of money. However, the expenses are recouped via savings on future running costs and maintenance. You’ll discover there are other benefits when adopting eco-friendly habits.

The benefits of living in a green smart home

The benefits of living in a green smart home

What is a green smart home? It’s a home that combines green features with smart home technologies to maximise energy- and water-efficiency and comfort. You may already be aware of the benefits of greener living, however, people don’t generally know that smart home technologies are used to manage and maximise the efficiency and costs of running the green features while making our lives simpler, easier and cheaper. Let’s explore how living in a green smart home makes a difference to our lives.

Green smart homes enable us to monitor and efficiently manage the green features

Smart home technology has moved with the times and most systems include an app that provides access from our smartphone or computer. This means that we easily manage all the green features of our eco-friendly home from wherever we are. That could be anything from monitoring the water level of the rainwater harvesting tank to adjusting a zone temperature of the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system.

Imagine how much simpler it is to manage our home when all we need do is log in to the program, adjust the particular settings and let the system carry out those adjustments. When it’s time to turn down the temperature of the heat pump, thats done in a matter of minutes. And while at it, changing the temperature of individual zones in the house, in fact, even setting up schedules to take care of everything.

This provides us with capabilities to monitor and manage our home, our energy, rainwater consumption, all with our comfort in mind. Thereby maximising the energy- and rainwater-efficiency of our green home with ease. And because we’re able to access the app from our smartphone, changing settings even while on the go. This is ideal where we’re short on time. It’s all at our fingertips. This is especially handy to make finer adjustments to our home.

We save money every month with our green smart home

Eco-friendly homes are designed to be energy- and water-efficient. They include features such as Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling systems, heat pump solutions that use less power. The green features save us money by reducing the amount of energy and water our homes use. By connecting these elements to the smart home technology, we’re able to use the information collected by the system to reduce your energy and water consumption.

Here’s an example of how that would work. With the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system being connected to the smart home technology, and with the arrival of summer, we’ll want to lower the temperature in our home so it’s comfortable. And we adjust the relevant settings to the required temperature, say 21°. The system goes into action to make those adjustments and its done between 24 and 72 hours for the rooms throughout the home to reach the new temperatures we’ve set. Finer adjustments to the temperature works in the same way.

As the smart home technology collects information of our energy consumption, we’re able to monitor data and see the effect of our changes. At a glance, we’ll note whether lowering the temperature on the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system made a big or small difference to the electricity used immediately after the adjustment. If the electricity used to adjust the home to the newly set temperature is too high, changing the temperature by half or a full degree, again immediately shows up in the electricity consumption. Repeating such minor adjustments enables us to determine the balance between comfort and electricity efficiency. The energy consumption data is available to see the patterns immediately and over the past month or year. Interesting to note, that cooling our home uses more energy than heating our home.

This information is empowering. Homeowners that make the move from traditional homes to eco-friendly homes know that they’ll save on their monthly running costs. They see the difference in their monthly utility bills, and they’re able to calculate how much they’ve saved by living green. And until we’re able to monitor and efficiently manage our home we’ll not be able to balance comfort with cost efficiency.

When we have a clear picture of the costs involved in running our home it’s easier to budget and plan. We’re able to budget accurately, save more money and introduce new methods to increase our savings. We might discover that with the extra money we’re saving to add further photovoltaic solar panels. Or further invest in backup batteries to run our home longer at night. Green smart homes don’t just make our life easier, they provide us with valuable information enabling us to save money while living a luxurious lifestyle.

Green smart home luxury

Imagine it’s the dead of winter and as the alarm goes off we slide our bare feet out of bed onto the tiled floor. It’s still dark out and as we turn on the shower hot water tap, hot water comes out almost immediately, well in 3 – 5 seconds. Once ready for work, taking a look out of the double-glazed windows we see there’s an icy wind whipping the trees in the garden; we make a mental note to grab our jacket before heading out the door.

If that sounds like luxury and expensive, it’s surprisingly affordable to live this way. The Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system in eco-friendly houses works so well that we would place our bare feet directly on the tiled floor in the middle of winter finding the tiles warm. Smart home technology enables the use of sensors to detect movement and turn the lights in our home on and off without us having to reach for the switch. A linked-loop system provides us with hot water on tap saving both electricity and water. The double-glazed windows prevents cold air in during winter and warm air in during summer. In fact, they’re a small part of all the insulation used in the design of green smart homes that make our living comfortable all year round.

Eco-friendly homes are designed to use energy efficiently and that’s why, in the long term, investing in a green smart home is affordable. Giving us these creature comforts without the continuous rising costs of basic services. And because we’re able to monitor our energy consumption, we’re able to manage the costs efficiently. The information the system gathers on a continuous basis empowers homeowners to maximise the energy-efficiency of the home while they live in comfort and convenience.

Green smart homes grow with us

Technology improves all the time. A perfect example of this is the smartphone market, where new and improved models are released every year. With green smart home technology our home gets smarter too, we’re able to download new software and keep our system up to date.

We’ll be able to add on features as we need them, or as we budget to. For example, we could add an alarm system that works with our smart home technology. Adding sensors to detect movement and set off the alarm. What about combining the alarm with the blinds and lights so that the moment the alarm is triggered, our blinds open and our lights switch on as an immediate alert.  By adding an alarm to our smart home system we’re also increasing our property value.

With more sensors we’re able to set schedules for the lights. While away on holiday we could set the curtains to open and close and lights to turn on and off as if someone was at home. There are many ways that smart home technology as the foundation has the capability to make our green home a smarter and safer place. Like, setting schedules to manage our blinds and lights according to our routine. Like, waking up with the sun, and setting the lights to come on every evening without doing it manually, by programming the system from the laptop.

The technology is in place so these are possible by adapting your home to suit your needs. Smart home technology allows you to manage many elements of your home and doing it remotely with the app on your smartphone or laptop.

Green smart homes are valuable

The truth is that eco-friendly homes are more expensive. Investing in property always pays dividends. And green smart homes will only become more desirable with time. Both the concepts of green living and smart technology taking off as more people come to realise the potential savings they offer.

In the future, new home buyers will be looking for properties that are energy- and water-efficient, comfortable and don’t require significant maintenance. Due to the nature of green smart homes, most of the features included in green smart homes are built to last. They need little maintenance and don’t require regular repairs. Photovoltaic solar panels last up to 20 years and don’t have moving parts that would easily break. And underground rainwater harvesting tanks are mostly self-cleaning; they require periodic rinsing if the finer filters.

As mentioned earlier, green smart home technology software is easy to upgrade, we’re thus able to access new features as they’re made available. We’re able too, to start with the basics and add extra functions to the system whenever needed. All of this adds value to our homes which means we’re in a position to command a higher price, when selling the green smart home on.

It’s no exaggeration to say that green smart homes are the future. The initial costs of investing in a green smart home are completely outweighed by the future savings and immediate comfort and convenience they offer their owners. As both developers and home owners come to realise this, more green smart homes will be built. With monitoring, managing, more knowledge and greater comfort, a green smart home gives us the kind of lifestyle we’ve always unknowingly dreamed of.

Do green smart homes offer a sound return on investment?

Do green smart homes offer a sound return on investment?

When owning an eco-friendly home we’ll command a premium when the time comes to sell. Investing in a green home will not only save money while living in it, it will increase in value with each years. Future buyers will be better educated about the benefits of greener living and actively seek out homes that already have green features. Even seek out purpose built eco-friendly homes. And with the added benefits of smart home technology, the value increases even further. Buyers will come to expect eco-friendly homes combined with smart home technology.

What is smart home technology?

Smart home technology refers to the use of computers to manage functions and features of a green home such as the electricity consumption, heating, cooling and the water usage. Such homes are referred to green smart homes. The smart technology infrastructure includes that the home’s data is easily accessed from a smartphone app or computer. The smart technology enables the monitoring and managing of a smart home from our smartphone or computer.

This enables that we efficiently manage our green smart home from within the home or from remotely. It makes running our home convenient and adds an extra layer of security to our property. With some systems, it is even possible to set schedules for lighting and the home’s temperature. Or, we’re able to rely on sensors to automate certain features. For example, before leaving the office, we’re able to turn on the lights so we arrive home to a bright house. Or, a sensor could detect the morning sun and automatically open the blinds and curtains, and the converse in the evening.

What is a green smart home?

Smart technology infrastructure is the foundation of a green smart home. Because, along with making it convenient to manage the green features, the smart system enables us to monitor various main features, like the energy and water consumption. Smart home technology continuously collects data of the home. This data is used to maximise the efficiency of all the features of the home. The efficiency translates to increased savings of the monthly running costs. And as the cost of basic services continues to rise, we enjoy greater savings without having to change our lifestyle. In addition, with a green smart home, luxury features are implemented in the most cost effective way. For instance, such a home is constructed taking many things into account. The green smart home being fully temperature controlled throughout the year with the electrical costs even multiple times lower than the traditional home equivalent, while sporting the luxury of being fully temperature controlled.

How do green smart homes increase our return on investment?

Eco-friendly homes are more expensive than traditional ones. That’s because they include features that cost more to implement during the building phase. And, the value of a green home lies in the fact that our monthly utility costs are significantly reduced. The money that we save every month on electricity and water is available to, for instance, put towards paying off our home.

And this is how green smart homes increase our monthly savings:

  • Tracking our power consumption

The smart home system can be connected to a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system and heat pump. Both of these features use electricity efficiently. And because we can track our energy consumption over days, weeks, months and years, we have a clearer picture of exactly how much energy our home uses.

If we raise the temperature of our home in winter, within minutes, we are able to see the impact this has on our costs. We then have the option to make an informed decisions about our comfort level versus the costs involved. With a smartphone app, we are able to log in to the system at any time and make adjustments to the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. Though reducing the temperature by half a degree or by one degree would not make much difference to our comfort levels, it would in fact make a significant difference to the cost of running the system.

The same applies to the heat pump. Hot water accounts for a significant portion of our monthly electricity bill. A heat pump uses electricity efficiently, so it already saves us money. When adding a linked-loop system, we have hot water on tap, which saves on water. Instead of running the tap for what feels like minutes while waiting for the hot water to reach the required temperature, the water is instead at the temperature you need within seconds.

With traditional geysers, adjusting the thermostat is cumbersome, which is why most people set it and forget it. We’re able to reduce our electricity usage by adjusting the temperature every season. We don’t need the water to be as hot in summer as in winter. And with a green smart home, it’s easy to adjust the temperature from our smartphone. Plus, we’ll be able to see immediately how dialing the temperature down a few degrees impacts our electricity consumption.

Once again, we’re able to monitor and manage our power consumption while maintaining our comfort. People generally don’t realise that greener living is luxury living. Imagine, living luxuriously, while saving money. Having full access to monitor every element and every feature of our home empowers to make choices and to manage our home efficiently, and to maximise the savings of our monthly running costs.

As we use the smart home technology to track our power consumption, we increase our understanding of how our lifestyle impacts our home’s running costs. Over time, we’re able to identify patterns and budget accordingly. Or, find new ways to reduce our consumption and be able to track the results. Simply being aware of our energy consumption makes a big difference to the way we live. It encourages us to use energy wisely, save money, while incidentally easing the strain on the municipal supply and the planet. It’s all about balance.

Smart home technology adds value

The features discussed above have already been implemented in some green homes. The aforementioned are some of the benefits of smart home technology. Expanding the system is possible and includes other features and benefits of the green smart homes such as:

  • Security: Add an alarm to the system which works with motion sensors. When the alarm is set off, it triggers the blinds to open, switches on lights and play loud music. This takes the intruder by surprise. Having an alarm system will also lower our insurance premiums and again we save money.
  • Setting schedules: By developing the smart home technology system further, to set schedules for the lighting and blinds. For example, turning the lights on shortly before arriving home at night. Although a new technology, we’re able to add many features to the smart home system.
  • Remote control: By adding additional sensors to appliances, we’re able to set the washing machine or dishwasher to run while out of peak period. Smart home technology offers us the ability to interact with our home, even when we aren’t there.

When selling our green smart home, we’ll have more to offer potential buyers than what a traditional home offers. The green features alone already add tremendous value to our home. Future buyers will be more aware of how much they’ll save while living in a green home. From a cost-effective Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system, to underground rainwater harvesting tanks, buyers will appreciate that a green smart home saves them money from the moment they move in.

Combined with the smart home technology, we’re offering buyers a modern, luxurious lifestyle that contributes to their saving from when they move in. We have already become dependent on our smartphones for access to information, and smart home technology does the same for our green homes. Tech savvy buyers will appreciate this added levels of information that the system offers. And once we’ve experienced it for ourselves, we’ll be able to show them why it’s valuable.

Save now and increase our return on investment

By combining green living and smart home technology, we push the energy-efficiency of our homes. We’ll gain a deeper understanding of our power consumption, and have at our finger tips features that make our lives comfortable. With the knowledge, it’s easy to implement other features to further increase our comfort and savings. That’s money to put towards paying off our home faster, thereby investing for our children’s future and for our retirement.

After experiencing all the benefits of living in a green smart home, we’ll get a good return on our investment when selling our green smart home on. Green homes are not common in South Africa. Studies in the USA have already shown that green home owners command a higher price for their property. And by adding smart home technology to the mix, we increase the value of our homes even more.

With that in mind, it certainly makes sense to consider investing in a green smart home. Property has always been considered a sound investment. We’re able to maximise the value of that investment by looking at green smart homes.

South Africans are already aware of the benefits of greener living. Some new residential developments have added green features. That’s because they know they’ll save on monthly running costs and are less dependent on the utility service providers. The rising costs of electricity and water have contributed to this and it’s likely that costs of these basic services will continue to increase.

Buying any property will be the biggest financial decision we ever make. By choosing wisely, and investing in a green smart home, we’ll save money now and reap the rewards of a good return on our investment in time to come. Green smart homes offer us more financial benefits than traditional properties ever will.