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.

Kyasol Rainwater Harvesting Transcript

Kyasol Rainwater Harvesting Transcript

Kyasol Green Building Solutions

Title: Transcript of Interview with Jonathan Heck, Kyasol Green Building Solutions
Presented by: Emmanuel van der Meulen
Guest Speaker: Jonathan Heck
Date: 6th June 2017
Number of Speakers: 2
File Duration: 31:42
Transcriptionist: Jacqui Jonk

Links are at the end of the transcript.

Transcript Break Down:
00:04 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart.
00:56 What is rainwater harvesting?
02:25 Introduction to Kyasol Green Building Solutions
04:10 What is rainwater harvesting used for?
05:02 Is rainwater harvested as is safe for human consumption or does it need to be filtered?
07:17 How do you start harvesting rainwater?
09:22 What are the advantages/disadvantages of underground and above ground tanks?
11:25 Can you retrofit underground tanks?
13:14 Underground tanks require pumping, but require electricity, how does that play out?
16:36 What filters have you been referring to and what are they used for?
18:20 Can you give us some examples of where rainwater harvesting was implemented by yourself and by your company?
19:30 Do we harvest rainwater for other uses besides domestic?
20:13 What if the tanks are empty?
25:10 Can I switch from rainwater to municipal water manually for my tanks?
27:06 Summary of above vs underground tanks.
29:35 Ways to monitor the tank levels?
31:09 Wrap Up

00:04 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart.

Emmanuel: Welcome to Radio Live Green Smart and our discussion on rainwater harvesting. I’m Emmanuel your host. Radio Live Green Smart is a forum to discuss green living, eco-conscious living; that’s the main crux. And then importantly to discuss where you see disrespect for the environment first hand bring, that disrespect to us and we will assist to find a way of addressing the disrespect. Use the contact us to report disrespect and please be clear with the information that you provide. Top

00:56 What is rainwater harvesting?

Tonight, we will be talking about rainwater harvesting which is the accumulation of rainwater for reuse at the residence rather than letting the rainwater runoff. Rainwater is collected from the roof and redirected via gravity to an underground reservoir or via downpipes from the roof directly from the gutters to a reservoir. Rainwater is used for various uses, in particular garden irrigation, flushing of toilets and for the washing machine. With further filtration of rainwater, it is safe to drink. Rainwater harvesting is one of the simplest and oldest methods of self-supply of water for households. Tonight, we have Jonathan Heck of Kyasol Building Solutions who will cover the topic in-depth from his point of view. Welcome Jonathan. Top

Jonathan: Hi Emmanuel, thanks for having me.

Emmanuel: [uh,uh] You’re welcome Jonathan and would you please introduce yourself and your company, Kyasol Green Building Solutions?

02:25 Introduction to Kyasol Green Building Solutions

Jonathan: Ok Emmanuel, Kyasol is basically, as you mentioned a green building solutions provider, we can touch a bit later on what divisions we take care of. At Kyasol I am the technical director and also a founding partner and my main responsibility is the water sector, mainly the rainwater harvesting, storm water management and waste water treatment.

Emmanuel: Ok, interesting and how did it start? How did Kyasol start and your passion for this [um] topic start?

Jonathan: Actually it’s quite interesting, my background is electrical engineering so [um], the other founding partner at Kyasol, I used to work for him and we worked on an automation level, building automation, industrial automation with a main aim of saving energy. And with one of our visits to Germany we came across this interesting rainwater concept with underground tanks and with South Africa not really leading the industry we need to look to our neighbours, like Australia, Germany and Europe for innovative solutions and we came across this concept [um] with a few discussions back and forward we then started importing the products and in 2010 we became the partner locally for that. So, the rainwater section started off by coming across something at an expo just by accident not really, South Africa didn’t have a need for it but soon developed a need for it when we started just maybe a year or two afterwards. Top

04:10 What is rainwater harvesting used for?

Emmanuel: Thank you Jonathan, the next interesting topic for me is what is rainwater harvesting and what is the water used for from your vantage point what is it being used for?

Jonathan: Well as you say, rainwater collected off roofs and surfaces, ideally roofs cause there’s less contaminants there and then that rainwater can be used as is without further disinfection or treatment in areas such as irrigation, cleaning of cars, washing and cleaning indoors and outdoors flushing toilets, even laundry, everything basically, except hygienic and consumption like cooking and drinking but you can also filter it to a further extent and replace that. Top

05:02 Is rainwater harvested as is safe for human consumption or does it need to be filtered?

Emmanuel: Does that mean that rainwater, as it is harvested it’s not safe for [consump] for human consumption, but with filtration it is?

Jonathan: Yeah, for sure, look on the roof there could be contaminants like bird droppings or dead animals or maybe carbon from car exhausts that came down with the rain, even metal and paint contaminants. So all of those small contaminants, which is not something that can make the water fall over but [it,it] it’s maybe not something that is hygienically healthy if you wash for instance your eyes or your face or use it in your cooking or your consumption so yeah you could install filters, sediment filters and disinfectants methods like UV or ozone to get that water to that extent, it’s definitely possible it’s just a question of whether it’s feasible to do it.

Emmanuel: Ok, when you say feasible, in other words is it cost effective to go to that extra extent when there’s enough other uses for the rainwater?

Jonathan: Yeah, look with filters there’s obviously maintenance involved so [um] there’s frequent replacing of filters that’s required depending on the contamination of filters. There’s also a power consumption factor to it [uh] ozone and UV both use power to disinfect the water, although very small. You need to consider the fact that you are getting rainwater for free, [um] now you need to spend maintenance and electricity on it.

Emmanuel: Ok

Jonathan: So, I would say of you not in an area that’s not water scarce then maybe use it on order to save on drinking water supply, but if you in an area where there’s very little resources then obviously cost of treatment and maintenance is not a question, you go to the full extent.

Emmanuel: Ok, so I get what you saying it’s horses for courses?

Jonathan: Yes, for sure. Top

07:17 How do you start harvesting rainwater?

Emmanuel: Thank you. Ok so now the question or the angle that I am coming to now is how do we start, how do we decide how and where to harvest how does one figure out that you want to start and any information you want to give listeners about that topic?

Jonathan: Yes, obviously the main thing is identifying whether it’s possible or feasible. Mainly the roof area, if you have a large roof area the more you can collect. [um] obviously location is also important, if it is desert area, every drop counts so you can still do it but um but if you start looking at a feasibility point of view then maybe good rainfall areas, big roof spaces are ideal. As a first prize, you would want to collect off the roof, less contaminants on the roof, you could also collect water from the surfaces. The surfaces also have exposure to oil fumes, chemicals, [um] excessive silt from gardens and that type of thing so it requires more filters to put in place in order for your storage tank not to build up over time and require more maintenance.

Emmanuel: So, does that mean water is collected from the downpipes if it’s from the roof?

Jonathan: Yes, yeah so it’s obviously important that your roof has a downpipe and a gutter structure, if you have something like a thatch roof its obviously more difficult to do that so via your gutters down the pipe into either an above ground storage tank or underground storage tanks. Top

09:22 What are the advantages/disadvantages of underground and above ground tanks?

Emmanuel: Yeah, that’s very interesting, now can you tell us about, now that you’ve mentioned above and underground what are the advantages or disadvantages of either the above or underground tanks?

Jonathan: Ok, I’ll start with the above ground tanks first [um] the above ground tanks are quite simple to put in place so you can imagine standing next to the building and a down pipe coming down the wall, you can basically put your tank under the down pipe just with a screen filter at the top of the tank so very [straightforwardly] and [inexpensibly] you could collect that water. The downside to above ground tanks is it’s not always possible to put it where your big collection points are. So, in the front of house you don’t want this tank due to aesthetics and maybe space reasons and that type of thing, so it becomes difficult to collect the maximum amount of roof area with above ground tanks and you need to be close to the downpipe as it works with gravity. S,o you can just imagine having 6/7 tanks around the house at each downpipe, it can become quite a problem and quite ugly as well. If we look at the underground section, the underground tank obviously cost a little bit more to put in place as you need to excavate to put the tank underground so the main advantage here is that you can bring your downpipes to the underground network and then gravity helps it flow to the lowest point of your property and you can collect the whole roof in 1 reservoir you have 1 filter point and 1 pumping point whereas if you have multiple above ground tanks you have multiple filter points and multiple pumping points so you can see there’s pros and cons on each concept. Top

11:25 Can you retrofit underground tanks?

Emmanuel: Yeah, now so [so] would you be able to retrofit underground tanks, the property is already built and I now want to harvest rainwater would that be a consideration at all or is it just not cost effective to do it after the event, and I am thinking about the downpipes, the collection and then the placing of the tanks etc. is that something people would be interested in?

Jonathan: Yeah, I would say a general thumb suck…

Jonathan is lost for a few seconds due to technical error.

Jonathan: I will just repeat that, I would say about 30% of existing houses has the possibility to do underground tanks the other 70% is more difficult due to paving around the house, well established gardens and features that need to be lifted and then it’s not feasible at all or maybe even practical.

Emmanuel: Ok, so from that I gather that the majority of rainwater harvesting with underground is done from the design of the house from [from] the architect, from that point. Is that usually the case?

Jonathan: Yeah, definitely more cost effective when you look at the holistic project so that when you design it in and the building takes place this type of thing is allowed for. Obviously as you know everything that’s retrofit comes with a price tag because you need to make it work. Top

13:14 Underground tanks require pumping, but require electricity, how does that play out?

Emmanuel: I understand. Jonathan then going to the next topic [um] if I formulate the question like this: when do we install underground and when above ground taking into account that the underground tanks require pumping the water, the above ground tanks don’t necessarily require pumping and now we have free water but we require electricity to pump what is your comment and so on. How does that play out?

Jonathan: Ok I’m just going to touch on the design and then I’ll go to the pumping topic.

Emmanuel: Thank You.

Jonathan: On the design, obviously if you build a new house and you could get your roofs to fall to central positions, strategic positions then above ground makes more sense. You can hide it through screen walls but then you have to plan it like that. Generally speaking, people don’t plan it like that, it’s more about the aesthetics of the roof then practicality of the roof which is a mindset thing I believe. If your roof is not ideally orientated to take most of your water to 1 point then you would need to go underground to get that structure around the house to a central point. [um] considering the fact that you need to pump water to the tanks, if you above ground you have gravity on an above ground level you can fill a bucket or you can maybe drip irrigate or do a simple run off but if you going to plumb into an irrigation system or into a plumbing system like a toilet or washing machine, you need pressure. So, whether you above ground or underground with the storage you need to pump in order to have that pressure on your irrigation system so I wouldn’t say that is a deal breaker, the pumping side of it seeing that you have free water that came off the roof you could spend a bit of money on pumping the water to the points that you need it.

Emmanuel: Understood, yeah, I understand. So, I gather now that to have above ground and to have all your drainage to a single point means you will have to design your house like that whereas with underground the design can follow the original plan and then all you need to cater for is how you get from the different places around the property to get the water to the underground tank. Did I understand you?

Jonathan: Yes you 100% correct, the building stages you obviously put in a water supply around the house, you obviously put a sewage system around the house so whilst these trenches are open you just put the additional piping in to bring the rain water to a central point so yeah it is carefully planned but practically possible. Top

16:36 What filters have you been referring to and what are they used for?

Emmanuel: Understood. Earlier on you mentioned filters, [uh] what filters are you referring to and what are the filters used for?

Jonathan: Well as a first step seeing water come off the roof you need to screen filter so we just call this our screen filter or our sediment filter. This is generally a stainless-steel screen either in the underground tank or on the man hole inlet of the above ground tank and this is just to prevent leaves or dead animals or solid particles to settle in the tank. If these particles enter your tank, it’s not a problem as such but it could start water falling over quicker through some rotten material or excessive build up as it needs frequent cleaning so we do a filter before we go to the tank to prevent sediments from settling into the tank. From that stage, you need to decide what you want to do with the water. If you want it to just go to the irrigation then no other filters are required depending on your irrigation points if you have small drippers or pop up sprinklers then you’ll obviously have to put something in place there but if you going to go back into the building for toilets we recommend a fine micron filter and this filter makes sure that all the dissolved dust or carbon in the water that’s not visually seen is encaptured so as not to affect the plumbing internally which is more difficult to maintain. Top

18:20 Can you give us some examples of where rainwater harvesting was implemented by yourself and by your company?

Emmanuel: I understand, Jonathan if we take it a step further where all, can you give us some examples of where rainwater harvesting was implemented by yourself and by your company?

Jonathan: Well typically residential buildings either retrofit on existing residential buildings and then a lot of the new buildings of the state that’s going up in and around Gauteng and South Africa, regions like Cape Town, Durban, Joberg and Pretoria. We have also done commercial buildings, office space, office developments where we use the water for urinals and toilet flushing. We’ve done service stations around the country also for urinals, toilet flushing and irrigation and in warehousing or logistics where there’s big roofs but not much internal consumption but then there’s washing of vehicles and this type of thing where we use rainwater to supplement. [um] I did the municipal water, all the recovered water for those washing bays. Top

19:30 Do we harvest rainwater for other uses besides domestic?

Emmanuel: So that means that we don’t only harvest rainwater for domestic purposes or for residential but offices, industrial, everywhere?

Jonathan: Yes, that’s correct, if you look at it, let’s use an office for an example. If you look at it there’s no washing and showering that happens at the office so where’s the water going to? It’s either coffee machines or handwashing or toilet flushing so a lot of the water used in an office environment is actually flushed down the drain and this is drinking water that we flush down the drain so replacing this with rainwater makes perfect sense. Top

20:13 What if the tanks are empty?

Emmanuel: I am beginning to see the bigger picture [um] that it’s not just for residents and so on. Now in terms of water when the rain out of the rainy season obviously the tanks will not last until the next rainy season, now what happens then if I’ve plumbed irrigation and the toilets into the rainwater tank but now the tank is empty?

Jonathan: Ok, yeah no, interesting question. If you in an area with good rainfall you could design a system to carry you through the dry season and there’s factors like is there frequent rain? Do you have enough roof space and is it feasible to do? I mean to design a storage that could last you 2/4 months in terms of the initial capital outlay and what you are benefiting and if that tank would ever be full is the question. So, we don’t go through the winter season, we try to harvest as much as we can in the rainy season and supplement using less from the grid so that also the infrastructure, the local dams and local facilities also have enough capacity for the dry periods. [um] in the situation that your tank is empty you have two options there. Either municipal switch over, so this is a direct switch over so if the tank is empty you allow municipal pressure to directly flow to the building, that is your first option. Your other option is to top your tank up with municipal water, so let’s say for instance you keep your tank at a 30% level so it means the whole dry season you’ll always have 30% in your tank topped up by a municipal supply if there’s no rainwater.

Emmanuel: So, what then happens if I understand you, is the water it keeps on filling let’s say as you mentioned to 30% of the tanks capacity and it then keeps on servicing the irrigation, the toilets etc from the tank as 1 option or alternatively when the tank doesn’t have water it will just bypass the tank and pump straight into the house or where its used for the irrigation?

Jonathan: Yes, that’s correct, but I just want to touch on something [uh] some positives and negatives around that. Let’s take the first one as an example. Let’s say [we] the tank is empty and we switch over to municipal supply on demand which means you stop pumping rainwater and the municipal supply goes directly to the building. Now the advantage there is that you don’t require a pump to pump water as municipal water already arrives at pressure so there’s no need to pump to get the pressure so you can basically switch directly over. The negative with this is, if there’s a water outage, let’s say there’s maintenance on a pipe somewhere then you without water so this brings me to the second possibility, instead of switching direct on demand to municipal when the tank is empty, you use the municipal to top up the tank to that 30% level in this example. The negative aspect is that you will always pump to your toilets and irrigation there’s never a straight municipal feed, there’s always a pumping feed so there’s always power consumption on the pump. The advantage though is that you always have reserve supply so if there’s a burst pipe or whatever the case may be you always have reserve in your tank to continue operating.

Emmanuel: Yes, for instance we’ve just been notified that we will be without water over a 2-day period, so if we were using, [um] the keeping water in the tank [uh] we won’t be without water for that period otherwise we would be that’s how the pros and cons would be as how you refer to it?

Jonathan: Yes, effectively you creating a rainwater harvesting system and a water back up system in 1. Top

25:10 Can I switch from rainwater to municipal water manually for my tanks?

Emmanuel: I understand, oh, that’s very interesting. Jonathan assuming now the rainwater has run out and now I need municipal water is this something that I have to walk out and manually switch, when I realise there’s no water over from [um] the one medium to the other medium? Is it manual or how does that work?

Jonathan: Yeah, well there’s a couple of options [um] obviously if you go old school and put a tank under a downpipe when its empty its empty, that’s a very feasible or cheap way of harvesting water. But as soon as you start looking at it in a professional manner and you start plumbing up toilets and laundry and irrigation, a lot of things around the house you need a more professional solution so obviously as soon as the tank is empty you need water to run to the toilets, you can’t in the middle of the night at 11 o clock go outside and switch over to municipal manually in order to fill the toilet so [um] again different strokes for different folks, if this is what you want to do then for sure but we do have an option of an automatic switch over device so basically what happens is if the tank is empty the pump switches off and there’s no constant pressure from the pump. In case of a power outage when there’s no power to pump it will switch over to municipal supply so even during power outages, pump failures or empty tanks you will have the backup supply of the municipal and that automatically happens that’s an automatic switch over. Top

27:06 Summary of above vs underground tanks.

Emmanuel: Yeah, that makes it very convenient. [um] Jonathan so is there anything else that you would like to tell us about the that we haven’t covered now anything else anything further that you would like to tell us about rainwater harvesting?

Jonathan: Yeah, the one thing that crosses my mind now thinking about it just back to the above ground and underground we know that obviously the above ground is a little bit cheaper to implement. Underground is more practical in terms of collecting from the roof. Advantages for the underground tank is obviously aesthetics you save space in the garden, also your water when stored underground you can keep it for longer periods because there’s no sunlight, no temperature or not high temperature and therefore very little growth or very slow growth so that’s one advantage I want to add above vs underground. And then something else that I just want to touch on as well is, we talked about making the system professional and have an automatic switch over, we also have automatic filters where the filters backwash themselves so there’s no need for you to go and clean the filters yourself. It’s on a schedule and rinses once a week or once every 2 weeks depending on how bad your contamination is and that’s a self-cleaning automatic solution.

Emmanuel: Yeah, it certainly sounds as if rainwater harvesting has caught up with all the conveniences that we need.

Jonathan: Yeah, no definitely these days it’s the norm you need to create time for family and create time for work and if you live on a farm and you have time to clean the filters and switch over water supplies then for sure but if you live in the cities and there are high demands you don’t have time for these things.

Emmanuel: Yeah, so it becomes part of the household and it just flows either from municipal or from the tank itself.

Jonathan: Yeah, that’s the intention, yes. Top

29:35 Ways to monitor the tank levels?

Emmanuel: Very interesting. Jonathan if that is the end of it then thank you very [very] much, unless you have some last-minute thoughts?

Jonathan: On that last topic on making it convenient, there’s also other tools that you can implement on this tank or this concept and it’s something like level monitoring in the tank. A lot of times the tank is outside or underground or not seen every day so you would want to know what the level is so there are simple devices that could give you like a gauge or display that shows you the level, but there’s also automation components. Just if I can touch quickly on the automation stuff so you monitor the level of the tank and then you can create graphs where you can see how frequently does it rain? How much did the tank increase in terms of percentage of approximate litre value? You can also then see from your graphs if your filters are actually clean or is your pump actually pumping and you can also set schedules or priorities so if your tank increased by x % you could run the toilets or the irrigation I mean, in drier seasons you could reduce the irrigation cycles and it just gives you a little more flexibility and control through that, through a tool like that. Top

31:09 Wrap Up

Emmauel: Definitely and that makes it even more convenient. [um] thank you Jonathan. So that concludes our discussion with Jonathan Heck of Kyasol Green Building Solutions. Please note that where we interview or run adverts, the content is not necessarily endorsed by Radio Live Green Smart. I am Emmanuel your host and over to the music. Top

Links:

www.livegreensmart.com

www.kyasol.co.za

End of Transcript Top

 

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.

Playlist

Playlist

Eco Friendly

Eco Pools Podcast

Eco Pools Podcast

Eco Pools Logo

      Eco-Pools

 

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.

Gardening for greener living

Gardening for greener living

Your garden is the ideal place to start practicing greener living. Working in your garden is satisfying. Whether you grow prize roses, or vegetables to feed your family, sustainable gardening makes your efforts more rewarding. With a focus on preserving the soil and using resources wisely, eco-friendly gardening is cost-effective and easy to do. Here are some sustainable gardening principles you can start using in your garden right now.

  • Composting

Eco-friendly homes take advantage of available resources and make the most of them. Recycle your food scraps, used coffee grounds, vegetable peeling and plant cuttings. By making your own compost you’re able to fertilise your garden for free. And you’ll provide your plants with a rich source of nutrients. Composting is a perfect example of green living.

To make your own composter, start by picking out a shady spot in your garden. Your compost heap should be larger than a cubic metre, but smaller than 5 cubic metres. The compost heap should be large enough to generate sufficient heat to break down the material.

Start with a layer of course material such as thin sticks or twigs. Then add a mixture of grass clipping and green and dried leaves. Then add some soil. You can also add manure to your compost heap, make sure it’s well-rotted. You don’t want to be inundated with flies or a subject your neighbours to the potent smell. Keep adding more layers to your heap in this order until it’s a about a metre high. Over time, the material will turn to compost.

These are typical items you’re able to add to your compost heap:

  • Fruit and vegetable peelings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Egg shells
  • Lawn cuttings
  • Nut shells
  • Straw
  • Paper
  • Cardboard and eggs cartons

Composting ticks two greener living habits off your checklist in one go. You end up sending less waste to the landfill, and you recycle organic materials at the same time. A third is, you feed your garden without it costing anything.

  • Harvesting rainwater

Any gardener knows that a beautiful garden needs water. This is one of our most precious resources. When experiencing a drought, harvesting rainwater is the ideal way to start living green. A sound investment in the future.

Rainwater is used for watering your garden, washing your car and even flushing your toilets. It’s not suitable for human consumption unless you filter it, using rainwater for general purpose jobs reduces the strain on the municipal supply. And, you’ll save money on your water bill at the same time.

While purpose-built eco-friendly homes have water tanks installed below ground, with existing homes if not possible to install underground, they are easily installed above ground. You’ll need to take into account how much water you need, the collection area of your roof and the rainfall pattern in your area to determine what size water tank you need. Water tanks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you’re bound to find one that works best for your garden.

If you haven’t got the room for a water tank, there are other ways to keep your plants hydrated the green living way:

  • Use mulch and ground cover to prevent water from evaporating.
  • Create raised beds to collect water and let it soak into the ground.
  • Use a watering can to water your garden instead of a hose pipe. That way you’ll use less water.
  • Swap your direct irrigation system for a drip irrigation system. This is an efficient way of watering your plants.

Using water wisely is the cornerstone of greener living. Water tanks are a great addition to eco-friendly homes. And in times of drought and water restrictions, you’ll prolong your supply of water to keep your garden blooming.

  • Planting native plants

Choose native plants that are hardy and drought resistant. Not only do they contribute to greener living, they require less maintenance. You’ll spend less time working on your garden, and more time enjoying it.

Native plants are well-adapted to local conditions so they don’t need as much water as foreign species. Indigenous trees, shrubs and flowers are more resistant to local pests and diseases. When planting trees consider their position and type to reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs.

Evergreen trees are green all year round so use them to form a windbreak and protect your home from chilly winds in winter. In summer, they’ll keep your home cool and comfortable. While deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter making them ideal for protecting the areas of your home that get the full sun in summer. Come winter, when the leaves fall off to let the sun in to warm the room.

Using plants to control the temperature of your home means you won’t have to rely as much on air-conditioners and heaters. If you adopt this green living trick you can make your home more comfortable and save on electricity. These natural methods are something that eco-friendly houses incorporate into their design from the start. And there’s no reason why you can’t do the same in your garden.

  • Controlling pests organically

Gardens attract insects and while eco-friendly gardeners recognise that some are beneficial, others are just pests. There’s no need to abandon your green living principles with them. From home-made insecticides to encouraging natural predators, there are organic ways to stop pests from ruining your garden:

  • Natural solutions: Save your eggshells from breakfast, crush them up and spread them around the base of your plants. That will keep slugs and cut worms away. Sprinkle salt around on the soil to stop snails from taking over. Don’t go overboard though, too much salt in the soil isn’t good for your plants.
  • Clean and tidy: Pests prefer untidy gardens. It gives them the chance to settle in and start breeding. So keep your lawn manicured and your beds tidy. Remove fruits and vegetables before they start rotting and become a food source for pests; and good for the compost heap.
  • Install barriers. Physical barriers such as mesh and nets protect plants from pests. Loosely woven material protects plants while they get enough water and sunlight to grow.
  • Insect-repelling plants. Citronella, marigolds, thyme, lemongrass and spearmint are all plants with insect-repelling properties. When planted in-between your shrubs they naturally repel pests – no need for chemicals.
  • Encourage birds. Hanging a feeder gets birds to visit your garden. Birds are fond of snacking on bugs and will help control the pest population in your garden. Lizards and frogs are another natural form of pest control.

Save on expensive and damaging chemicals and use natural, greener living methods to manage pests in your garden. You’ll discover that once you start working with nature, you’ll achieve the results you want with less effort, and costs.

  • Old-fashioned garden maintenance

To maintain a garden you rely on a number of tools to keep it looking tidy. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers and hedge trimmers are an essential part of any gardener’s kit. Where possible, choose electric-powered equipment. You could invest in cordless tools to make your job easier.

Electric-powered lawn equipment creates less noise and air pollution than the gas-powered models. Electricity is also cheaper than fuel and another way of saving on costs of keeping your garden in tip-top shape. Alternatively, using a traditional push mower and get a workout while attending to your garden.

An alternative to leaf-blowers, is sweeping the driveways and sidewalks the old-fashioned way – and getting in a workout. Though it may take longer, it saves on fuel and noise pollution. Green living, though by working differently, saves costs in various ways.

And did you know that using a hoe to cultivate between your plants suppresses weeds and aerates the soil? Spending a few minutes in your garden every day and pulling weeds, by hand contains weeds and they won’t spread get out of control. Ten minutes daily beats hours of weeding once a month.

Working in your garden is as good for the garden as for your soul. By returning to greener living practices you re-discover the joy of spending time in nature.

  • Designing eco-friendly gardens

Eco-friendly homes with eco-friendly gardens is a balanced eco-system. Compliment the indoors and outdoors, by following greener living through to your outdoor spaces too. Whether working with an existing garden, or starting one from scratch using these tips create a garden that’s eco-friendly:

  • Recycle materials. If you want to build a deck or a patio, use recycled materials or a material that can be recycled such as wood or aluminium. Some manufacturers offer you a composite material made from a combination of plastic and wood particles. This type of decking is fade-resistant and easy to clean. It requires little maintenance and looks attractive.
  • Plan your planting. Learn about native plants to make your garden attractive. The local nursery is able to help pick out indigenous plants that are ideal for our gardens. Native plants will help you to cut down on water usage, repel local pests. Have a beautiful garden. Use a combination of sun-loving and shade-loving plants appropriately. The more you know about the plants you want to use, the better your landscaping.
  • Limit your lawn area. Lawns require frequently watering and care to keep them looking at their best. Consider whether you need a large lawn and if you don’t, experiment with other kinds or ground covers that don’t need as much water or maintenance. Natural grasses are just as attractive and are suited to droughts and our particular weather conditions.
  • Make maintenance easy: Designing your garden in way that makes it easy to look after. Remember that green living is convenience. If you want to harvest rainwater for use in your garden, or start a composting heap, set aside space for these projects. Incorporate them from the start and make them part of your garden. Reduce the need for gas-guzzling or power-sapping garden tools. Working on your garden is a pleasure when approaching it differently.

When adopting green living gardening principles, changes the way you see your garden. Eco-friendly homes are about convenience, saving costs and being environmentally friendly. Everyone benefits when becoming mindful of how resources are used. Explore ways that you’ll enjoy and start a small project putting your ideas into practice.