Many are realising that green living has great financial benefits. And smart home automation systems also help with saving on monthly costs, as well as adding to comfort and convenience.
As an example, smart lighting systems are used.
A sensor in every room automatically switches lights on and off when movement is detected. This is a luxurious way to live. At night, when everyone else in the house is sleeping, there is no need to look for light switches in the dark when going into the kitchen or bathroom.
Lighting is one of the easiest areas in which to save energy.
As another example, heat pumps heat water using less electricity than a geyser. The energy consumption of the heat pump is monitored by the smart home automation system – and it is possible to adjust the water temperature via a smartphone app or computer, adding convenience to one’s lifestyle.
Your home is the biggest investment you’ll ever make. And with the rising cost of electricity and the vulnerability of South Africa’s water supply, green living is becoming a more attractive option for many home owners. But can you afford it now? The last thing you want to do is over-capitalise on your property.
Another option would be selling your current home and buying a ‘green’ home instead. But how would a home that’s designed to be environmentally friendly save you money? While it’s true that sustainably built homes cost more initially, the long term benefits extend beyond saving on your electricity bill. So with that in mind, here are four reasons why investing in a green home makes financial sense.
- A green home costs less to maintain
Do you have a list of things to do around the home? Perhaps you need to paint the exterior, tend to your gutters and downpipes or maintain a large garden? There always seems to be something that needs repairing or re-decorating.
And it all costs money, time and effort. A green home simply doesn’t have these issues to begin with. That’s because a good developer makes sure that the materials used to construct a green home are durable. In a green home you should find the following low-maintenance features:
- Naturally coloured roof tiles
That’s right, you’ll never have to spend money or put your back out painting your roof. The colour of these tiles won’t fade from exposure to the harsh South African sun. And they’re tough as nails too. They can withstand rain, wind and hail and aren’t easily damaged. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to spend money replacing them due to damage.
- Self-cleaning rainwater tanks
Most rainwater harvesting tanks require some form of maintenance to remove the plant material, waste and sediment that build up over time. This can be a tedious job if you undertake it yourself, or expensive if you call in a professional cleaning service.
Rather choose tanks that are self-cleaning. So you’ll never have to incur the hassle or expense that normally comes with such a feature.
- Aluminium and stainless steel
Aluminium is the ideal material for window and door frames. They add to the look and style of any home and the material itself offers homeowners several benefits over wood or uPVC frames, including:
- Low maintenance: Resistant to all weather conditions and corrosion, aluminium frames won’t warp, crack, split or swell.
- Environmentally friendly:Aluminium is one of the most highly recycled materials in the world which makes it extremely sustainable.
- Thermally efficient:Frames made from aluminium outperform other materials when it comes to adapting to heat gain and loss.
- Inexpensive:Although prices vary between manufacturers, aluminium doesn’t cost as much as you might think. And because the material is so energy efficient, you’ll quickly recoup the initial costs.
- Design flexibility:You can customise aluminium frames to suit any shape or size making it particularly suitable for unusual openings.
Steel is another material that’s both cost-effective and sustainable. It offers strength and durability to the frame of a home and requires little or no maintenance. Best of all, it can be completely recycled so it never goes to waste.
Keen gardeners will already appreciate the fact that maintaining a green lawn and lush shrubbery takes a lot of time and effort. Create gardens that still look appealing without the hassle or cost by including these elements:
- Indigenous trees and shrubs: These require less water as they have adapted to the South African climate. You won’t have to water them as often as foreign plants so you’ll spend less time working on your garden, and more time enjoying it.
- Smaller lawns: This is the part of any garden that requires the most maintenance and incurs the most costs. Constantly watering your lawn to keep it looking at its best comes at a cost. Instead, make smaller lawns and use pots and decorations to make your garden a beautiful space.
- Rainwater tanks: Rainwater doesn’t cost you anything and is perfectly safe for using to water your plants and clean your car. Even in times of drought, supplementing with rainwater saves on costs and helps preserve this precious resource.
A green home normally makes use of alternative energy sources to reduce your reliance on the grid. And these features will reduce your monthly costs. But by taking into consideration every aspect of your living space, you can reduce your costs even further by reducing the need for expensive maintenance.
- A green home is healthier
An advantage of green homes that is often overlooked is the fact that they are healthier than regular homes. In other words, all the materials and methods used in a green home tend to emit less harmful chemicals and toxins into your living space.
There are a few ways in which green building practices contribute to the health of a home:
- Better air quality: Because green homes use paints and adhesives that emit less volatile organic compounds, the air in the home is safer and cleaner. Without constantly breathing in dangerous chemicals there’s less chance of the inhabitants suffering from eye, nose and throat irritations and headaches.
- Elimination of mould: A home that is properly sealed and ventilated doesn’t give mould the chance to grow. Mould and damp can cause respiratory problems and infections, allergies or asthma. They can also affect the immune system.
- Less temperature variations: Proper insulation in green homes reduces the fluctuation in temperature inside the home between seasons. Green homes are a comfortable temperature all year round which means you’re less likely to get sick. You may not get ill from being cold, but it does affect the immune system, making you more susceptible to any kind of infection or illness.
- Cleaner water: the filtration systems used on green homes are effective at removing up to 99% of dangerous contaminants, including chlorine, metal and pesticides. And cleaner water means there’s less chance of you picking up an opportunistic infection.
But what does all of this mean for your pocket? Quite simply, it means you’ll be spending less time at the doctor’s rooms and less money on treatments and medicines. Healthcare is expensive and as the old saying goes—an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Many studies have shown the health benefits that green building provide to the people who live and work in them. A healthier living space also makes people happier and more productive. These benefits make investing in a green home a smart decision for your pocket and your future health.
- A green home has a higher resale value
Your initial costs may be high, but if you ever need to sell your green home you’ll be pleased to hear that it can command a higher resale value than ordinary homes. Even retro-fitting an existing home with green features can increase your asking price when you sell it.
Energy efficient homes are becoming more attractive to homeowners because of the continual and long-tern savings they represent. And in current and future economic times, the ability to reduce your monthly running costs will be an important consideration when shopping for a home.
Scarcity of natural resources will also be a concern for future homeowners. So choosing a property that has been designed to make the most of natural energy sources will be more attractive. While green homes are still the exception, rather than the norm, many new developments are starting to incorporate green features. And in the future, tax rebates may be offered for those who make use of green technologies when building new homes.
How quickly you can expect a return on your investment in a green home depends on several factors. Your initial costs versus the savings on monthly utility bills, reduction in maintenance costs and the savings on your healthcare all contribute to the final figure. Within reason, you can expect to have recouped your costs within 10 years or less.
- Green homes reduce the strain on local infrastructure
Even those who do not live in an energy efficient home can benefit from living in an area where there are green homes available.
Because green homes don’t rely solely on the electricity grid to run their homes, this makes it much easier for local suppliers of electricity to cope with the demand. As a result, the cost of supplying these services will stabilise and make them more affordable and reliable for everyone.
Unfortunately there are not enough green homes to make this a reality yet. But with the movement becoming more popular it could mean that in the future, electricity will be more affordable for everyone. And that way, even if you do need to use the grid to supplement your photo-voltaic solar electricity supply, it won’t cost you as much as it might have.
- Green homes have many other benefits
Besides those already mentioned above, green homes have a number of other benefits that can’t be measured in monetary value.
The benefit to environment is the most obvious. Even though these homes still use a variety of building materials, these are sourced and used in a sustainable way. Harvesting rainwater and using solar panels for generating your own energy reduce the strain on local resources. Green homes generate less pollution and reduce your carbon footprint substantially.
Green homes are stronger, sturdier and built to last. They have been designed to work with nature and not against it. A good developer will take all aspects of the construction into consideration when helping you plan your green home. This includes looking at factors such as the location and your requirements. They will know how to maximise the efficiency of systems and techniques to benefit you and the environment.
Once you’ve experienced a green home you won’t want to live any other way. The air and water quality are often much better than those in other homes. Double glazed windows reduce noise pollution and make green homes a haven of peace and tranquility.
If the cost of buying or building a green home is putting you off the idea, these benefits should convince you otherwise. It’s tempting to try and save money, but when buying a home one needs to consider the long-term costs involved in maintaining and running it. And this is where a green home can really make an impact on your future expenses. Your home should be an investment for the future. So take the time to research and calculate the real cost of a potential property. Once everything is on paper, you’ll clearly see the financial benefits of going green.
At the first sign of winter do you dust off your heaters and throw your electric blanket on the bed? Or maybe you stock up on gas and firewood to keep you warm through those dark, chilly nights? With a green home, you wouldn’t have to do any of these things.
And the reason for that lies in proper insulation. You may be surprised to hear that a well-insulated home not only reduces your electricity bill, but it takes all the hassle out of dealing with the change in seasons.
Yes, insulation does mean a significant reduction in your heating costs. But the real benefit is that it keeps your home at an even temperature throughout the year; cool in summer and warm in winter. Green homes combine a variety of insulation materials and techniques to keep your home at the perfect temperature all year round.
Not only are the materials and techniques they use environmentally friendly, but they’re also remarkably efficient and effective. Here’s a breakdown of how a home should be insulated against the elements.
Lambdaboard: Built in-between external and separating walls
Lambdaboard is a high-quality, environmentally friendly alternative which provides superior insulation for homes. Lamdaboard is a polyisocyanurate, which is another name for a thermoset plastic. Essentially, it is closed-cell, rigid foam board set between two facers. The facers are made of a various organic materials such as fibreglass or paper.
Lambdaboard is the ideal insulating material and provides several benefits to homeowners:
- The foam core resists moisture which reduces the risk of rising damp on walls.
- It is made from recycled materials and can also be recycled itself which makes it really environmentally friendly.
- It performs better than most other materials in fire tests. It will not melt, drip or spread the flame.
- It has a wide service temperature range from -30° to 140°.
- It has the highest thermal resistance (R-value) per 25mm of thickness which makes it the most thermally efficient insulation material available on the market.
By inserting this remarkable material in-between exterior and separating walls, the temperature of each individual room is contained and maintained. The result is that heating your home in winter is cheaper and easier.
The Lambdaboard helps to keep any heat generated within the room, which in turn makes you less dependent on other energy-hungry heat sources to keep warm in the colder months. And in summer, the board keeps the heat of the sun out, which makes interiors cool and comfortable.
Here again, you won’t have to rely on expensive and environmentally damaging air conditioners to keep the temperature down. It’s not hard to see how using this amazing material to insulate every room in a home would make it more comfortable to live in.
Hydronics radiant heating and cooling
Homes built using this method to help homeowners control and customise the temperature of their home to suit their individual preferences, makes it a versatile and economical way to heat or cool your home.
How does it work?
Hydronics radiant systems circulate water through tubing laid in the floor between the foundation slab and the surface of the floor. They are connected to a hot water tank and gets cold water directly from the heat pump system. The feeder pipes are well-insulated which helps to maintain a consistent temperature throughout a specific area.
The system is laid out over multiple zones in the home and you can adjust the temperature of each zone individually. That means each member of the family can adjust the temperature in their area to suit their preferences.
What are the benefits?
When compared to regular methods, using water to heat or cool your home has several benefits:
- The floor surface of the area is heated or cooled, rather than the air within it. This eliminates hot or cold spots and makes it more comfortable for the people living in the house.
- There is no need for messy ductwork or noisy fans which means a cleaner and quieter home.
- Dust particles aren’t circulated through the air so there’s less risk for those who suffer from allergies.
- It’s easier to control the temperature of the building and set the temperature to suit your comfort level.
The system is compatible with any type of flooring so you don’t need to avoid using tiles throughout your home for fear that it will be cold in winter. With a hydronics radiant heating and cooling system, you’ll be able to walk barefoot across your floors no matter what time of the year it is.
Combined with the use of Lambaboard in the walls, it’s easy to see why these homes are both more energy efficient and comfortable to live in. Being able to control the temperature within your home, and maintain it without relying on expensive electricity makes a green home particularly attractive to anyone looking to buy a new home.
Any costs involved in such a system will be quickly offset by the reduction in running costs, especially as the price of electricity continues to rise. But beyond this, the knowledge that these methods are also kinder to the environment provides a benefit that cannot be measured in economic terms.
Going green doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your comfort. In fact, a green home is easier to live in and maintain, despite the perception that reducing your reliance on electricity means missing out on the convenience of modern living.
Adding a layer of insulation to floors of every home, ensures that the hydronics radiant heating and cooling system is even more effective.
On its own, an extra thick screed will provide your home with insulation. It is also a good idea to insulate the pipes carrying water.
And not only in the bedrooms and living areas – the kitchen, bathrooms and domestic quarters should be fitted with these pipes and an extra thick screed. So no matter where you spend your time, the temperature of the area will always be just what you want it to be.
Innovative ceiling insulation
One popular method of insulation consists of laying a thick roll of fibre-glass or asbestos material in the roof of your home to trap the heat inside. Although it may be effective, it certainly isn’t environmentally friendly. And it makes it awkward to access your roof space should you need to install new lighting or lay any kind of wiring. But there is a far more efficient and sustainable way to insulate your ceiling.
So what should you use in place of this? If you’re concerned about safety, you’ll be delighted to know that there is an entirely green technology to insulate the roof of your home. Called Isotherm, this insulating material is completely made up of recycled plastic bottles. Not only is this material environmentally friendly, it can also be recycled. You can’t get greener than that.
And it still has some other benefits that all homeowners will appreciate:
- Dust and water resistant
- Non-toxic with no associated health risks
- Lasts longer than most other insulating materials
Choose a ceiling insulation product that is effective and gentle on the environment. Once again, you don’t have to sacrifice modern comforts for the sake of greener living. And you’ll be reaping the benefits of reduced electricity consumption and the costs associated with it for years to come.
The double benefit of insulated plumbing
Don’t let any opportunity go to waste when it comes to insulating your home. Even the water pipes should be insulated. First, cover with an insulation material which is wrapped with insulating tape. And then, benefit from the insulation in walls, floor and ceiling.
You might think this is too much, but this only adds to the savings you’ll enjoy. Obviously all this insulation means that your hot water won’t cool down in winter or your cold water heat up in summer. Via a linked-loop system hot water is available a few moments after you turn on the tap.
So you won’t need to run your taps until the water reaches the desired temperature. This means you’re saving water too. And considering what a precious resource this is, it makes perfect sense to insulate your plumbing as much as possible.
Double glazing on windows and glass doors
You may think that this would be unnecessary considering how many other insulating methods are used to make green homes comfortable and energy efficient. But every technique available must be used to maximise the efficiency of green homes.
Double glazing refers to a window that consists of two panes of glass, an outer pane and an inner pane. Because the window is completely sealed, the air between them acts as a layer of insulation. This stops the warm air inside the home from escaping during chilly winters. And in summer it has the reverse effect; preventing unwanted heat from entering your space.
Once again, this reduces your need to keep heaters or air conditioners running constantly to maintain the temperature of your home. And there are some other benefits to double glazed windows that you may not be aware of:
- It reduces condensation which is the primary cause of mould in the home.
- It cuts down on medium to high-frequency noise, which makes for a quieter space.
- It’s harder to break through two panes of glass so double glazed windows and doors also act as a security measure.
Once again, a feature like this does tend to add to the cost of a home. But it’s easy to see how the benefits outweigh the initial costs.
It’s easy to see how much your energy costs will be slashed by taking advantage of these materials and techniques. Great care should be taken to ensure that every green home build conforms to the strictest safety standards. The materials and techniques used should not only be environmentally friendly, but also durable, effective and cost efficient.
A well-insulated home makes financial sense. Although it may affect the cost of your initial layout, your living costs will be significantly lower. And in less than 10 years the savings you’ll enjoy will more than make up for extra expense of buying a green home. With low maintenance costs, you’ll continue to enjoy modern comforts while also making a positive impact on the environment.
There’s more to green living than simply reducing your impact on the planet. You can actually save money by doing simple things that make a big difference. And where better to make a difference than in your own home?
Reducing your carbon footprint is all about having as little impact on the earth as possible. We all know that climate change is affected by some of the ways we live our daily lives. A large factory may be emitting harmful gasses into the atmosphere. A private person may own an automobile that’s way too large for what he or she needs.
All of these lifestyle choices have an impact on the environment. Reducing your carbon footprint is about making the right decisions in your everyday way of life.
In this article we will discuss small ways you can reduce your carbon footprint in the simple way you live your life at home. And best of all, these methods won’t cost you any extra to implement. It’s a great harmony of living well, living cheaply, and living responsibly towards the planet.
Insulate your home from draughts and air leaks
Insulation in-between external and separating walls helps to maintain the temperature inside the house. This reduces the cost of heating your home in winter and cooling it in summer. If you’re buying a new home, look for one that is expertly insulated.
But insulation goes a lot further than your walls. In summer, a lot of hot air comes into your home when the sun bakes your roof. Ceiling insulation is a must in these cases. A home that has ceiling insulation can be easily identified when the weather outside is uncomfortably hot or cold. You walk in and can immediately feel the difference.
Insulation is all about trapping air inside and preventing external air from coming in. A great way to do this is by insulating your windows and glass doors. Believe it or not, air does travel through glass. But preventing this from happening is easier than you think. Double glazed glass panes can be fitted to your window frames. This special glass can also be used in your glass doors.
So how does double glazing work? Simple. It’s two panes of glass with a cavity of air in between them. This air traps the hot or cold air and keeps your home at a consistent temperature—regardless of the climate outside.
Now if a home is TRULY green, it goes even further to ensure insulation. Floor insulation makes a big difference to ensure your comfort. Not only can air escape through your floor, but under floor heating and/or cooling is best maintained with a floor that contains some form of insulation.
So if you’re searching for a green home, ask your agent about these types of insulation. Having some is great, but having all of them is even better! The more insulation your home has, the more power you end up saving in the long run. And of course the environment will love you for it.
Replace incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs
Compact Fluorescent Light and Light Emitting Diode bulbs are more energy efficient and last longer than regular incandescent bulbs. You won’t have to replace them as often, so you save in the long run. Even turning off the light when you’re not in the room will help to reduce your carbon footprint.
There’s been a lot of publicity about these light bulbs. Truth be told, not enough can be said about how great they are. Not only do they shine brighter, but electricity usage is minimal. These light bulbs are a bit more expensive, but they will last longer than regular bulbs and save you loads on your utility bill.
Use a low-flow showerhead
How can a low-flow showerhead help save the environment? Simply put, water is the earth’s most precious resource. So if you can save it, you’re doing a lot. You’ll still enjoy getting clean, but you’ll use a lot less water. And don’t forget to turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. It’s a little thing that can make a big difference to your water bill.
You like shower pressure? No problem! Many of the low-flow showerheads on the market today can be adjusted in such a way that water pressure is focused and strong. This is done despite the fact that little water gets utilised.
When you think of the slightly higher cost for a showerhead like this, you will quickly see what a good return on investment this is for your pocket and the environment. You save a lot of water in the long run. The longer you have it, the more you get out by saving water. So be sure to include this in your home’s carbon footprint reduction strategy.
Replace old appliances with energy efficient ones
If you need to get a new fridge, freezer, dishwasher or microwave, check the energy star rating before you check the price tag. At the end of the day, an energy efficient appliance will save you more money.
Most people don’t even know that appliances have energy star ratings on the packaging. In short, the more stars such a rating has, the less electricity it uses. This is becoming an important factor to many shoppers all over the world. And yes, South Africans are starting to shop according to energy star ratings too.
The energy star ratings put a lot of responsibility on the manufacturers of these appliances. It adds an extra competitive element to products too. As more and more shoppers begin to recognise the energy star rating system, more and more manufacturers will start to produce appliances that run on less energy.
At the end of the day, the main reason for energy efficient appliances is not predominantly for money saving or better competitiveness. The main reason is to help the environment. You as a consumer and the manufacturing companies are both taking part in an important responsibility—reducing your carbon footprint on the planet.
A water-wise garden strategy
There are many small ways you can save energy and money around the home. But don’t forget your garden. Even if watering your garden doesn’t use energy, harvesting rainwater in tanks will also help you save money by saving you on your water bill.
As mentioned above, water is our most precious resource. It’s important to save as much of it as we can. Rainwater harvesting is an effective way of doing this. When certain parts of your home utilise rainwater instead of municipal water, your carbon footprint is reduced. That’s because using less water in general is beneficial to everyone around the globe.
Now there are various ways you can use rainwater in your home. But you will find that most of your water goes to maintaining your garden. South Africans are avid gardeners. And hey; there’s nothing wrong with that. However there are some simple ways to run your garden in a way that very little water is used.
The first is by planning indigenous plants, shrubs and trees. Plants that are accustomed to the South African climate need much less water than non-native plants. Another way is to fill your garden with lots of pebbles, pots, statues, birdbaths, rocks and pavers. These will negate the need for lots of watering and they will lend your garden an aesthetic quality that will never grow old.
But your biggest water saving method will be to not use municipal water to irrigate your garden in the first place. Now you may be saying that all water is originally rainwater anyway; so besides your water bill, what’s the difference? Well, remember that a lot of rainwater gets lost after it falls over your home. It sinks into the ground, washes down the street or gets soaked up by the sun.
Rainwater harvesting collects as much of this water as possible, and keeps it for when you need it! This puts you in control of when you use a resource that you obtained for free. It prevents waste and ensures a clean alternative to treated water from your municipality.
Can you buy a house like this?
You may be interested to know that many houses already have these strategies in place. But even more importantly, green home developers are building green homes that have ALL of these factors in place. Imagine living almost completely green!
People who live in these homes reduce their impact on the environment. It’s awesome to watch parents raise their children in this kind of lifestyle. Fortunately for us all, more and more South Africans will begin switching to a greener lifestyle—some quicker than others.
It takes no more than a little imagination and effort to make any home a green one. By doing so you are securing a future for future generations. You are also limiting the impact you and your family currently have on the environment. The wonderful truth about living green is that it all works out for the benefit of everyone. Yes, the planet will be smiling, but so will you. You’ll be healthier, happier, and financially better off for implementing these strategies.
To date, very few houses in South Africa use green building techniques. However, this does not mean that you can’t fit your current home with green features which will eventually give you a similar return on investment. To follow is a quick guide on how we can help you retro fit your home with green features.
Choose the right suppliers
Green home development is a growing industry in South Africa at the moment. Because it’s still relatively new, there are a number of companies out there that do not know how to fit these systems competently. Be very aware of who you choose as your supplier and installer of choice.
Consider researching the following green home suppliers:
- Rainwater harvesting
- Photo-voltaic panels, batteries and installation
- Insulation factors for the walls, ceiling, doors, windows and floor
- Hydronics radiant cooling & heating system
- Low maintenance green components such as aluminium, bamboo, stainless steel, etc.
Consult with experts and do your research
After consulting with a number of experts, researching online and trial & error, the perfect formula can be found to construct the perfect green home. If you are planning on implementing one or two features to your current home, be sure to talk to the right people first. And if you plan to build your own green home, chat to our developers and allow us to give you some guidance.
Calculate your return on investment
It’s not always worth it to implement green features to an existing home. You already know you’ll be saving in the long run, but consider the initial amount that needs to be laid out. Calculate the amount you will initially invest compared to the following factors:
- How long do you plan on living in that particular home?
- Will the new green components act as selling points when you eventually sell?
- Will you get your money back when you sell?
- How much will you save monthly on utility costs?
You may find that it’s more worth your while buying a green home in South Africa than converting your current home into one.
Make green home features a buying imperative
Once you go green, stay green! If you’ve fitted a solar geyser into your current home, don’t settle for anything less in your next home. There isn’t currently much of a green trend in South Africa, but that will change over the next few years. If you want to protect your investment, insist on homes that are fitted with green features and grow the demand for such houses.
Going green is not as hard as you may think. Do your research, plan ahead and grab your calculator.
Ever heard the term ‘early adopter’? It’s used to describe people who are the first to use a new invention or technology before it becomes popular. A good example of this would be television. While some wrote it off as a passing fad, there were those who rushed out to buy their first set. But more often than not, the real reason more people aren’t early adopters of a new technology comes down to cost.
And that’s how many people feel about green homes. If you’re in the market for a new home, you may be wondering whether you should buy a green home now, or wait until they become more affordable. This article will try to help you make a decision about the biggest investment you’ll ever make.
How do you define a green home?
It’s easy to a label a home as ‘eco-friendly’ but before you part with your money you should spend a little time figuring out what ‘green’ means to you.
For some, it’s the fact that a home is energy-efficient. Whether or not you’re ready to go completely off the grid is matter of choice, but if saving on your monthly electricity bill is your main motivation for buying a green home, you’ll want it to have the following features:
– Superior insulation
– Double-glazed windows and doors
– Photovoltaic solar panels
Another reason people are attracted to a green home has to do with health benefits they provide, especially for allergy suffers. That means they’re especially interested in the use of non-toxic building materials from paints and varnishes to carpeting. A green home provides:
– Improved air quality
– Superior ventilation
– Reduced exposure to allergens
Finally, there are those who see green homes as having little impact on the environment. In this case, building materials that are locally sourced and / or sustainable become the main focus. This may take the form of:
– Bamboo for flooring and countertops
– Recycling existing materials such as concrete
– Reclaimed bricks
The ultimate green home combines all of these features. Once you can define what ‘green’ means to you, you can eliminate potential properties that don’t fit your definition. You’ll also be able to work out how quickly you can expect a return on your investment.
How much more would a green home cost?
At present there are simply not enough green homes available in South Africa to provide the data needed to answer this question. But studies in the US show that green homes on average sell for 9% more than ordinary homes. However, when you’re working with a budget, even a figure below double-digits can be off-putting.
What you should really be looking at is how quickly you can recoup your initial outlay by the savings you’ll enjoy on your monthly running costs. Take for example the savings you’ll get from doing something as simple as installing a solar water heater. If you were to retro-fit an existing home with a 200l solar water heater it would cost you in the region of R20 000.
It is expensive, but bear in mind that electric heaters contribute between 30% and 50% of your monthly electricity bill. On a bill of R800 a month, and averaged out at 45%, that means just R360 a month goes towards heating water for bathing and washing. But using the power of the sun to heat your water is completely free which means that money stays in your pocket. And within just four to five years you’ll completely recoup the costs of installing a solar water heater.
That’s just one element of a green home. Imagine how much more you’ll save with a home that incorporates more energy-saving features. Proper insulation is a case in point. With the mild climate we enjoy in sunny South Africa, many homes have no form of insulation at all. You may think that double-glazed windows and doors and underfloor heating are only for homes in the northern hemisphere. But these features have advantages beyond just making the interior of your home more comfortable in winter.
They also help to keep it cooler in summer which means you save on air conditioning. And although you could go through a winter on the Highveld without ever switching on a heater in a green home, if you did, you wouldn’t need to use it for very long to achieve the temperature you want.
Some homeowners opt for roofing insulation for this very reason. But in a green home, even the exterior walls are insulated. The result is a home that maintains an even, comfortable temperature throughout the year without relying on energy-hungry heating and cooling appliances.
And it’s not just your energy costs that you should take into account. What about your water usage? As access to clean water becomes scarce, the price of supplying homes with this vital resource is bound to go up. In a green home you have several options for decreasing your reliance on the municipal supply.
The first method is to install low-flow showerheads and faucets to reduce the amount of water you use for everyday bathing and cleaning. You might also look at ways to re-use grey water for your garden or washing your car. But you can take it one step further by securing a water source for your own private use.
Rainwater tanks can be installed underground, keeping them out of sight where they won’t detract from the aesthetic of your property. Efficient pumps can be installed, along with filters, to make the rainwater you collect potable and safe for use throughout your home. It reduces your reliance on the municipal supply and ensures you always have access to water.
Green home developers take care to ensure your home and gutters are placed in an optimal position to maximise rainwater collection. Even in an area with little annual rainfall, you can ensure that your home has the ability to collect and store water.
Bear in mind that while many of these features ultimately add to the cost of a green home, the money you save on electricity and water will make it much easier to afford.
What are the other advantages of living in a green home?
If you’ve never experienced a ‘green’ home, it can be difficult to understand that there are benefits beyond saving money. But there are several:
Green homes make a real difference to the environment in many different ways, and everyone benefits. Reduced energy consumption means less harmful greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. And by recycling or using sustainable materials they contribute less waste too. Everything from the design, to the materials used works in harmony with nature and not against it.
Non-toxic materials and better ventilation makes a green home a healthy place to live. Your immune system isn’t weakened by toxic chemicals or bombarded with dust or mildew so you simply don’t get sick as often. The temperature in a green home is moderated by features such as insulation and hydronics radiant heating and cooling. An even temperature reduces your reliance on air-conditioners and heaters which can spread bacteria and viruses.
Finally, they are simply quieter and more comfortable than regular homes. Double-glazed windows and doors reduce noise pollution and well-sealed doors stop drafts from getting in.
You don’t just save on your monthly running costs, you save on maintenance too. Green homes cost less to maintain because they use materials that last. Everything from the roof tiles to the flooring is made to withstand years of use without losing their looks.
And should you ever want to put your green home on the market, you’ll discover that it commands a better price for your property than a traditional house. As time goes by, these green features will become more desirable. If you home already has these, then you will be able to raise your price—and get it.
The cost of not going green
The real question is not whether you can afford a green home; the question is whether you can afford not to invest in one. The truth is the cost and availability of things we take for granted now will get even worse. Investing in a green home now allows you to face the future costs of living with confidence.
As costs continue to rise, you end up saving more every year which means you can recoup your costs at a faster rate. It’s a small but growing trend that will gather strength as more people come to realise how important going green is for the planet—and their pocket. While green technologies may become more affordable as time goes on, waiting for that to happen could cost you so much more in the meantime. Especially if you consider that the cost of electricity will rise even faster.
While retrofitting an existing home with some green features will help you to save money, these renovations can be prohibitively expensive. Which is why is makes more sense to invest in a ready-built green home. There are not many of these available in South Africa; if you’re willing and flexible with your location, you will find something suitable.
A green home is designed to reduce your reliance on municipal suppliers of power and water. And by reducing demand, you free up those resources for others. So in the end, everyone benefits from a green home—even those who don’t live in one. Any home is an investment in your future and you have to consider the long-term when making your decisions.
Green homes make considerable sense in the long-term. They are cheaper to run, cheaper to maintain and will be more valuable should you ever have to sell. Being an early adopter is a risk. There’s always the possibility that a new technology will not work out or that it will become so much cheaper that you’ll regret having paid so much to be among the first to have it. This will never happen with a green home. No matter how much you invest now, you will continue to increase your savings over time.
When an investment like that comes along you simply can’t ignore it. Along with all the other benefits of going green, making a solid investment in your future outweighs everything else. So if you’re ready to make the commitment— you’ll find there’s a green home out there for you.
Is the only thing holding you back from investing in a green home the fear that you simply can’t afford it? It’s a common misconception that living off the grid is only possible for the rich. While other’s think that converting their existing home will result in over-capitalization. By the end of this article you’ll come to realise that green homes are not just affordable, but actually add more value to your biggest investment.
Starting from scratch
If you’re in the market for a new home, it makes sense to look for one that already has many green features. Although there are not many of these homes available yet, these homes boast several innovative features that are not only eco-friendly, but contribute significant savings to the running of your household.
Knowing what to look for in a green home is the first step to evaluating whether it will be a good investment. Here are some pointers that you can use:
- It makes the best use of the location: An eco-friendly home should work with the environment to achieve maximum efficiency. If it’s correctly orientated, a green home can use natural sunlight to ensure that it’s easier to heat in winter, and just as easy to cool in summer. Taking advantage of natural sunlight and shadow means you spend less money keeping your living space at a comfortable temperature throughout the year.
- It is properly insulated:Most regular homes aren’t well insulated at all. This means that any money you spend trying to make your home comfortable just goes to waste. A green home is not just well-insulated; it also makes use of eco-friendly materials to ensure comfort and sustainability. The floors, walls and roof of your green home should all be insulated.
- It uses efficient heating and cooling systems:Underfloor heating and cooling may sound like an expensive luxury, but in a green home it provides a more efficient method of keeping your home at the right temperature. Use the innovative hydronics heating and cooling system to achieve this. Pipes laid throughout the house enables hot and cold water to be pumped under the flooring. This is far more efficient and affordable than using heaters in winter or air conditioners in summer to adjust the temperature of your interior spaces.
- It relies on solar energy:This may seem to be the most obvious feature of green homes. At the very least, a solar water heater provides free energy for heating the water that you use on a daily basis. If you instead add different panels and batteries, you can generate enough power to run your entire home without relying only on the grid.
- It’s water-wise:Clean water is rapidly becoming one of the most precious resources on the planet. And as time goes on, accessing water will become even more expensive. That’s why most green homes make use of water tanks to collect rainwater which can be used for everything from washing your car to flushing your toilet, and importantly to irrigate your garden. And the good news is that this doesn’t have to take the form of an unsightly tank in your garden. Instead, they are buried underground and fitted with energy efficient pumps to make the water available where you need it.
While these are just some of the basic features that any good green home should have, look out for those that offer little extras. Double-glazed windows, a garden with indigenous plants and bamboo flooring or counter tops all go a long way to making your home efficient and sustainable.
Counting the cost
Understanding the true cost of a green home requires you to do some serious calculations. While it’s true that you initial investment is higher than normal, you should factor in your future costs to see how much you’ll save in the long term.
To do this, you’ll need to calculate how much energy and water you currently consume and what it costs you every month. You can do this by monitoring your consumption and bills for a month or two. Then, you’ll need to estimate how much your expenses will increase as the cost of these resources continues to rise. Finally, you can offset this against the initial costs of buying a green home.
You’ll realise, as others have, that investing in a green home offers you substantial future savings. On average, you’ll find that it takes between 8 – 10 years to recoup your green investment. And, you’ll have many years of future savings to look forward to. As the costs of electricity rises, you’ll actually end up saving even more with each passing year.
Buying a green home is a serious commitment though. To really appreciate the savings you can enjoy, you’ll remain in your home longer—and when moving, you’ll move to another eco-friendly home of course.
The good news doesn’t end there. Should you ever sell your green home, you’ll find that you can command a higher price for your property. And because green homes require less maintenance, you won’t have to spend a lot of money preparing your home for resale.
Retrofitting your existing home
Even if you’re not in a position to buy a ready-fitted green home, there are several things you can do to make your existing home more energy-efficient. Retro-fitting an existing home with green features is often considered expensive. But once again, you need to take into account your future savings to determine how cost-effective these measures are.
Aside from cost, most people are unsure of where to start greening an existing home. However, it’s always a good idea to start small and build-up to bigger projects. Very often, some serious research is required to determine just what the final cost and savings may be. If you need help, consult with experts who will be able to give you the right advice. Some of these projects require specific knowledge and tools, so don’t be tempted to take the DIY route if you don’t have the necessary skills.
There’s more to owning a green home than just enjoying the cost savings. It requires a mind-shift to start living in a different way. So if you think that you’re ready to embrace a new way of living, try out some small projects before committing to the bigger ones.
- Be aware of how much energy you use: Simply turning off the lights as you leave a room is a good habit to develop. If you do eventually install photo-voltaic solar panels to power your home, you’ll need to be conscious of your energy consumption. That way, if you do make the switch to solar power, you’ll use it wisely and not waste it.
- Use energy efficient products: Light bulbs, dishwashers and fridges all consume electricity. If you ever get to the point where you generate your own electricity, you’ll want to make sure your household appliances are energy efficient.
- Monitor your water usage: Cutting down on your time in the shower can be difficult. But ultimately, it will help you save money on both your water and energy consumption. If you’re going to install a solar water heater, you’ll appreciate just what it takes to have a hot shower in the morning.
- Get water-wise: It’s so easy to just turn on a tap and have access to fresh water that we tend to take it for granted. So start thinking about all the water you use during the day and what steps you can take to cut down. Plant indigenous in your garden, pop a brick in your toilet and re-use your grey water for washing your car.
Once you’re aware of your consumption habits, it will become easier for you to see the value in investing in the bigger projects. When you’re ready to make the change, here are some of the ways you can retro-fit your home:
- Solar water heaters: Installing a solar water heater can knock a good 30% off your monthly electricity bill. When measured against the installation costs, it means you can re-coup your investment within 4 – 5 years. Most solar water heaters come with a five year guarantee and last between 15 – 20 years. As they don’t require much maintenance, this makes them one of the easiest green features you can use in an existing home.
- Insulation:An energy-efficient home is one that is well insulated. With existing homes it may be difficult or costly to add more insulation, but the investment is well worth it. Often your roof is the best place to start as it’s quite easy to add a layer of insulation here. But be sure to use environmentally-friendly material for this project. You can also check your windows and doors for air leaks and use insulating strips or caulk to seal them from draughts.
- Rainwater harvesting tanks:This very much depends on the space you have available on your property. However, there are plenty of options available on the market; your bound to find one that suits your requirements. These tanks can also be buried underground so they won’t detract from the appearance of your property. And they can be fitted to work with the existing municipal supply so you’ll never have to worry that you won’t have access to water when you need it.
- Photo-voltaic solar panels:Living off the grid is possible, but for existing homes it requires a significant investment. However, you can easily start with some panels and add to them as you save on your monthly bills. As with the rainwater tanks, you can supplement your solar panel with the municipal electricity supply.
Once you start investigating the options available for retro-fitting an existing home, you’ll see just how easy and affordable it can be. Not only will you enjoy considerable savings on your monthly running costs, you’ll also be adding significant value to your home. And should you ever want to sell your home, you’ll be able to command a higher price.
What’s more affordable?
The answer to this question will depend on your current situation. If you’re considering buying a new home, it would make sense to find one that has all the green features you want. And while this may mean that you spend more money initially, you will end up saving immediately and continuously.
If moving is not an option, then this article should prove to you that it’s still possible to go green without spending a fortune. Researching various green features will help you make a decision on where to start. And you’ll find that once you have implemented some of these suggestions, you’ll save money which you can put towards your next project.
It’s safe to say that being environmentally conscious isn’t just for the rich. With proper planning and dedication, anyone can change their home into green home. Are you ready to make the change?
Despite the lack of rolling blackout in recent months, South Africa is still facing a power crisis. Investing in eco-friendly homes with photovoltaic solar panels is one solution to the problem. Though these homes are more expensive than traditional ones. If you’re a first time home buyer, does it make sense to splurge now and to save in the future? Here’s everything you need to know about owning a photovoltaic solar powered home.
The advantages of photovoltaic solar power
Beyond the obvious savings on the monthly electricity bill, photovoltaic solar power makes sense for a number of good reasons. Eco-friendly homes that run on photovoltaic power systems include the following benefits for homeowners:
Never run out of electricity
As long as the sun is shining, we’ll be able to run the home. The sun is a renewable source of energy unlike coal and gas. It’s not subject to price increases, and isn’t likely to run out any time in the next 5 billion years!
Get paid for excess electricity
In the future, we may get paid by the national supplier when generating more electricity than required, by feeding that excess back into the grid. Adopting green living habits could prove to be profitable.
Many Electicity Suppliers are already paying for excess electircity to be fed back into the grid.
Always have electricity when needed
By adding backup batteries to the photovoltaic solar system, excess energy is stored for use during the evenings. And when batteries aren’t installed, by using a hybrid grid-tied system, switching between photovoltaic solar power and the grid is enabled. That way electricity is always available.
Low maintenance costs
While photovoltaic solar panels seem futuristic, they are easy to care for. With few moving parts, there’s little chance that of spending a fortune on repairing or replacing parts. The only thing needed is to keep the panels free of dust and debris. If the panels are dirty they won’t absorb as much energy from the sun. All it takes to keep the panels clean is a hose and a little soapy water. Eco-friendly houses are generally cheaper and easier to maintain.
New developments are finding ways to integrate photovoltaic solar power and other green living features into the design of a home. Rainwater harvesting tanks, for instance, are installed underground to ensure they don’t detract from the appearance of eco-friendly houses. The benefits of photovoltaic solar power has resulted in more homeowners retrofitting this green technology to their existing homes.
ROI of a photovoltaic solar power system
After a few years, monthly savings on electricity pays for the photovoltaic solar power system – thus it pays for itself. Depending on the size of the system ROI is within five to eight years. Calculating current electricity costs over say 10 years, adding a modest price increase; keeping in mind the home is fully temperature controlled too, is an easy indication of the ROI period.
After that, savings continue progressively as the price of electricity increases. Keeping in mind when the green smart home is sold on, the cost of the green features is fully recouped. Living green adds value in surprising ways.
The photovoltaic solar power system will last for many years
Photovoltaic solar panels are built to last for many, many years. Improvements in the technology will bring the cost of components down over time. Nevertheless, we’re able to start saving by installing a photovoltaic solar power system.
How does solar power work?
Greener living is the way to go. Photovoltaic solar power is a main green feature. Broadly speaking, here is how it works.
The sun operates like a nuclear reactor, sending out packets of energy known as photons which reach the surface of Earth in eight-and-a-half minutes. Every hour, enough photons bombard our planet to satisfy global energy needs for a whole year!
Such a system is made up of photovoltaic solar panels and an inverter. The panels capture the energy from the sun and transform it into Direct Current. The inverter takes this and converts it into Alternating Current. It is this Alternating Current that is used to power the appliances in the home.
How much do solar panels cost?
There is no standard answer to this question. It all depends on how much power is needed to provide for a family’s needs. When designing eco-friendly houses, developers take the following into consideration:
- How much sun does the rooftop receive?
- What is the size of the roof?
- How much power is required?
- What is the budget?
- Whether it’s a hybrid grid-tied system?
- Whether backup batteries are required?
- Whether smart technology is required?
These are the questions to consider when investigating the idea of installing a photovoltaic solar power system; to an existing property or when it’s being designed for a ready-built eco-friendly home.
Which solar power system is the best?
There is a choice of three systems. Let’s take a closer look at them:
Stand-alone photovoltaic solar system
This type of photovoltaic system is also known as an ‘off-grid’ system. It operates independently of the national grid and makes use of backup batteries to store the power generated by the photovoltaic solar panels during the day. This means solar energy is used to run the home late into the night and during periods of bad weather.
Hybrid grid-tied system
The system works with the national grid. It reduces the electricity bill and is able to switch over to the national supply when needed.
The system also acts as a backup during load shedding and power disruptions.
Ideal green smart system: hybrid grid-tied, photovoltaic with battery backup
When implementing a photovoltaic solar system, adding backup batteries and tying these to the grid, is the ideal green smart home system.
Such a system works like this:
During the day, the photovoltaic system runs the green home directly from the sun. Excess power is stored in the backup batteries. When the backup batteries are replenished, further self-generated excess power is fed into the grid, accumulating a credit with the grid service provider. On most days, by 11h00 the backup batteries are loaded and excess is going to the grid. From around 18h30 the home is run from the backup batteries. Once the batteries reach their evening threshold, the grid is used; first depleting the previously earned credit. Thereafter the grid usage is paid for. The backup batteries evening threshold allows for battery power to run the home during the morning peak period, after which the sun kicks in again. This cycle is repeated each day.
By designing the system to use the home’s own electricity during the morning and evening peak periods, should tiered electricity tariffs be implemented, the highest tariffs is never paid!
The number of photovoltaic solar panels and backup batteries installed is calculated based on evening usage and how much excess is fed into the grid. This is the ideal green smart electricity system. Becoming independent of the grid on own terms.
How much will I save?
The main reason for investing in any kind of green technology comes down the savings. When determining whether spending a substantial amount of money on a photovoltaic system is worth it, understanding the potential savings is necessary. With photovoltaic solar power there are three areas where savings are achieved:
As mentioned earlier, monthly savings will be determined by how much energy is needed to run the home. The up-front cost of installing a photovoltaic solar system will be offset by the savings. The more that is spent on electricity now, the more the savings are in the future.
Photovoltaic solar systems require little maintenance so apart from the initial installation costs, there is the maintenance costs.
Although it’s not a direct saving, the cost of the photovoltaic system is incorporated in the property value when selling it on. Eco-friendly homes will become more valuable as the trend grows in South Africa, resulting in higher resale values.
- Avoid future price increases
The cost of electricity will continue increasing. Though South Africans have enjoyed cheaper electricity for years, that’s changing. Opting for photovoltaic solar power arrests any future price increases.
Green living is here to stay. It’s a real solution to the challenges we face of limited resources that will become more expensive in the future. To maintain our standard of living, it’s worth embracing green living philosophies to reduce our dependence on these resources without sacrificing comfort.
Photovoltaic solar energy makes a lot of sense for home buyers and existing home owners. Be prepared for the future!
Environmentally friendly homes are not the norm in South Africa. Homeowners are however slowly realising that green homes are sound investments. They have significant advantages over traditional homes that will become important as the years go by. If you’re unaware or unconvinced that investing in eco-friendly homes is a wise move, here are some reasons why greener living is a smart move.
Eco-friendly homes have a longer lifespan
Would it surprise you to learn that green homes age better than traditional homes? That’s because eco-friendly building materials are tougher. For example, steel beams equip a home with a solid frame that is much stronger than wood. As a result, green homes can withstand high winds without damage. And steel beams aren’t at risk from rot or termites.
Even natural, sustainable construction materials are treated so that they last as long. In order to minimise waste, green living demands that every element of a home is used to maximum effect.
Green homes are healthier
Paints, adhesives, upholstery, carpets and other materials all emit Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) into your home environment. You may not be aware of it, that breathing in these dangerous chemicals can affect your health. They are responsible for a variety of conditions that range from mild to serious. One thing is certain; being exposed to these VOCs for long periods of time result in being more susceptible to illness.
On the other hand, green living focuses on using products that are non-toxic and not harmful to the environment or people. Low VOC paints, varnishes and adhesives are available and used in the construction of eco-friendly houses. Wooden flooring is an alternative to carpets. Even tiles made from recycled materials are available to ensure that green living principles are followed throughout the construction of a home.
The result is that green homes have a better air quality. And good air quality reduces risk of illness and allergies. It’s difficult to imagine that a home could be a source of becoming sick, though those living in eco-friendly homes know that being environmentally conscious makes a difference to their health.
Eco-friendly houses are more valuable
Should the time ever come to sell, green homes command more money. As the trend towards greener living gains popularity, buyers will be on the look-out for eco-friendly homes. Features such as photovoltaic solar panels, comprehensive insulation and a rainwater harvesting system make such homes attractive to eco-conscious buyers.
It’s these features that make green homes comfortable. Green living is about modern conveniences, about luxury living. Photovoltaic solar power and rainwater harvesting means efficient access and use of two important resources. Why be solely dependent on the grid for electricity when it’s easy to generate electricity. And the same with water, why be solely dependent on municipal water, when it’s easy to harvest rainwater.
When compared to traditional homes, taking the benefits of the aforementioned translated into monthly savings, and that green homes are fully temperature controlled throughout the year, and that the temperature of each zone is individually adjustable, it stands to reason that eco-friendly homes are valuable assets.
Green homes are cheaper to run
One of the noteworthy points of eco-friendly houses is their low running costs. Other points are their convenience and benefits to the environment. In fact, living green saves a substantial amount of money. In comprehensive tests, calculated savings of up to 65% can be achieved – that is – including the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling – registering better than optimal temperatures during the tests in summer and winter.
Harvesting rainwater reduces monthly water costs by as much as 60% averaged over the year. Installing a solar water heater reduces water usage slightly and saves electricity based on usage patterns. Using photovoltaic solar electricity to power a home reduces electricity costs by almost by 100%.
Even small actions result in big savings over time. For example, switching to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) reduces electricity consumption immediately. Green living is about finding efficient ways to achieve things.
And with costs of basic services such as electricity, water and refuse removal continuously increasing, living in a green home makes solid economic sense.
Eco-friendly homes are attractive
Homes fitted with green technology is not unattractive. When building eco-friendly homes from scratch, designers and developers find ways to incorporate green features so they don’t stand out. Photovoltaic solar panels are indeed visible. And large rainwater harvesting tanks are usually installed underground and out of sight. It’s even possible that an eco-friendly home isn’t distinguishable unless told.
Very often, the natural materials used to decorate eco-friendly homes are as beautiful as traditional materials. Bamboo floors and countertops add a touch of luxury to any home. Recycled materials that have been re-purposed have a charm of their own. Finding eco-friendly tiles, paints or finishing’s to decorate interior spaces are easy to find. More suppliers are recognising the demand for green living alternatives.
All that is needed is educating about these choices and asking manufacturers the right questions. Take into account how products are sourced and handled and to decide whether they match green living principles.
Green homes keep working during shortages
There’s nothing worse than arriving home after a long day to discover a power or water outage. With a green home, this won’t be the case often. Even during rolling black-outs, cooking, having a hot shower and lighting the home continues. Investing in back-up batteries to store the power generated by the photovoltaic solar panels, though expensive, provides power when needed.
Likewise, rainwater harvesting tanks supply water as designed even when the municipal supply is turned off. Or, if water restrictions are instituted, rainwater is likely available from the previous rains for flushing the toilets and irrigation.
These are examples of how green living make life easier. Being self-sufficient enables the use of resources as implemented for the home. And reduces the impact of price increases for power and water. In a green smart home, it is easy to monitor and manage usage to retain basic comforts.
Eco-friendly homes are the future
The idea of building sustainable homes has already taken off in many parts of the world. Designers and builders are constantly coming up with innovative ways to build homes that work with the environment and use limited resources efficiently.
At the same time, more homeowners are becoming aware of how green living saves money. Swapping out old lightbulbs for more cost-efficient CFLs or buying a geyser blanket, is beneficial to our pockets and the environment. These are small aspects of being eco-friendly. Image implementing green features comprehensively.
If you’re in a position to buy a purpose-built eco-friendly home, don’t hesitate. It’s worth the investment. Not only will you save on your monthly costs, you’ll be investing in the future. An eco-friendly home is a home for life. You’re investing in a home that will last you well into your retirement, a home that you can leave to your children.
Green homes are better for the environment
It’s worth stating this advantage again. The benefits of eco-friendly homes extend well beyond the construction phase. As time goes on, green homes continue to reduce impact on the planet: Using less resources and releasing fewer toxins into the environment.
Although the full impact of current habits is yet to be felt, by adopting green living habits, we’re contributing to an improved environment. Few people appreciate how uncomfortable life would become if steps aren’t taken to stop pollution or reduce the consumption of precious resources.
Greener living doesn’t require much. It requires changing just a few habits, and we stand to benefit as much as the planet does. Being committed to leaving our children and grand-children with a bright future, we’ll need to take action, rather sooner than later.
As is evident, there are many reasons to invest in a green home. In the future, eco-friendly homes will be in demand. Be an early adopter. Start saving money and reducing your impact on the environment.
What to look for in a green home?
If you’ve already decided that your next home should be a green home, here are some features to look out for when you go house hunting:
One important feature of eco-friendly houses is how well they’re insulated. Retrofitting an existing home with ceiling insulation is not enough. An eco-friendly home will have:
- Ceiling insulation
- Floor insulation
- Exterior wall insulation
- Double-glazed windows
- Water pipe insulation
A home that is properly insulated will significantly reduce your cooling and heating costs. An underfloor Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system will eliminate your need for heaters and air-conditioners. You’ll be able to control the temperature in separate zones for maximum comfort all year round without using much electricity.
Being well insulated contributes to sound proofing the home.
- Rainwater harvesting tanks and a water-wise garden
All eco-friendly homes have some kind of rainwater harvesting system. Whether tanks are installed underground or above ground, a pump and filter enables using harvested rainwater inside and outside.
Combined with a garden that features indigenous plants, water usage is minimal. And the harvested rainwater is available to flush your toilets and supply the washing machine.
- Heat pump or solar geyser
Both options provide you with hot water. Not only does this make eco-friendly homes more comfortable and convenient, it saves on water and electricity. With a linked-loop system, hot water is immediately on tap, reducing the need to run the water until it reaches the right temperature.
- Photovoltaic solar panels and backup batteries
For the full green living experience, include photovoltaic electricity. Reducing dependence on the grid provides massive savings on monthly bills. Backup batteries ensure that electricity is available during the evening when the sun is down.
Bamboo countertops, reclaimed wooden floors and tiles and efficient use of building materials are all features of eco-friendly homes. The environmental impact of every material used in the home needs to be investigated. It’s the only way to ensure that building a green home creates the least possible impact on the environment.
Speak to the builders and designers and ask them about the various features they include in their eco-friendly houses. Work out how much you can save by living in a green home and compare it to the cost of living in a traditional home. You’ll discover how well-designed and efficient they are. Once you understand how greener living can make a difference to your life, you’ll realise that buying an eco-friendly home will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
You may have heard of green homes. Eco-friendly houses that are built using green principles to conserve resources and reduce running costs are slowly gaining traction in South Africa and around the world. As the green trend develops, smart technologies are being incorporated into green homes to enhance their efficiency. The two work well together to enable monitoring and efficiently managing power and water resources. What does this mean for homeowners?
Green homes are desirable because they use resources efficiently. This is particularly important when it comes to power consumption. An ordinary home relies on the municipal electricity supply. As the price of electricity continues to rise, homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their consumption and to save money. And become less dependent of the resource providers. Investing in a green smart home maximises the conservation of precious energy and saves money in the process.
The smart technology continuously collects consumption data. The information is available on an app, on a laptop, desktop, and smart devices for any period. Up to the minute, hour, day, over weeks, months and years the information is available and enables extensive monitoring of the resources to track and immediately identify patterns. This information is invaluable to efficiently manage resource usage. Thereby providing facts to make important decisions about how the home is run.
Let’s use an example to illustrate this. As the weather cools down at the start of winter, we’d want to increase the temperature inside the home. The Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system takes 24-48 hours to reach the newly required temperature. Almost immediately after adjusting to the newly required temperature, by monitoring the electricity usage it is possible to see how much more electricity it would use. By adjusting the temperature by a half to one degree or so while maintaining the comfort level within the home, it is possible to save on electricity costs. Without such a system, we’d need to wait for the next bill to see the cost of raising the temperature.
Bear in mind that green homes also make use of superior insulation to protect the home from temperature fluctuations. The comprehensive insulation prevents the loss of warm air in winter, and cool air during summer. This increases the efficiency of the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. Thus, the heat pump does not use excessive electricity to retain the home’s temperature as the seasonal outside temperature cools down or rises.
Being able to monitor and adjust the temperature of the home might be considered a luxury. Ultimately though, it’s the ideal way to maintain the comfort level without resorting to drastically increase energy consumption. The smart technology provides the easy monitoring and efficient managing and to fine tune every element of the home. Thus, comfort and luxury at momentous saving of monthly running cost.
Heat pumps generates hot and cold water. Heated water is used by the Hydronics and in the bathrooms and kitchen; cold water is used by the Hydronics. Heating and cooling of water accounts for a large portion of the total electricity bill. Having the ability to manage the temperature by half or a single degree presents yet another good opportunity for reducing the monthly running costs. Once again, the real advantage of the smart technology lies in its ability to collect data. Over time trends and patterns are visible. This allows for planning future needs, budgets and expenses.
The water temperature and temperatures throughout the home is adjusted from a laptop or smart device app which means there is no need to climb up into the ceiling, as with traditional houses, to manually adjust the geyser’s thermostat. These are some of the reasons why smart technology is used. It offers an added level of convenience for running a green home efficiently.
Making every drop count
It is essential to use water efficiently. Therefore, many green homes usually include a rainwater harvesting system. Untreated rainwater is used for garden irrigation, flushing the toilets and for the washing machine. There are two significant benefits to using rainwater for these purposes. Firstly, it helps to conserve one of our most precious resources by making efficient use of water which would otherwise be lost. Secondly, it presents homeowners with the opportunity to reduce the effects of water restrictions and price hikes.
Rainwater is free and green Homes shoul have rainwater tanks to capture and store rainwater. The rainwater harvesting system should be connected to the municipal supply, so the home always has access to water. Without the necessary sensors, it is cumbersome to monitor the water levels in an underground tank.
A rainwater level sensor needs to be installed in the tank that connects to the smart technology system. This enables the monitoring of the level and usage of the harvested rainwater in the tank simply by logging in and checking the data. This information is stored and enables seeing how the levels fluctuate over a period of days, weeks, months, and years. This information is used to adjust and manage rainwater usage. This is up to the minute data and is an accurate picture of how much rainwater is used. Calculating how much water is required for a water-wise indigenous garden then enables adjusting the irrigation exactly according its water requirements. Usually saving multiple times the water used for the garden when based on guesswork.
Efficiently managing resource usage
Until we have experience of green homes and smart home technologies, it’s difficult to understand how practical and convenient it is, how empowering it is, how efficiently resources are managed to maximise saving of monthly running costs. The aim of using smart-home technology features helps to increase the effectiveness of the green features. Smart technology with the green home features is based on an easily extendable smart technology infrastructure which in turn enables home automation capabilities, in addition to the green smart home monitoring and management.
For example, it is possible to use the smart technology for added security. It’s simply a matter of adding the relevant interior and exterior movement sensors and connecting them to the system. When the sensors are triggered, in addition to setting off an alarm that alerts us to an intruder, the following alerts are also possible.
Triggering the lights to come on, the blinds to open, and loud music to start playing: Thus, alerting anyone in the home and the neighbours, to a potential break in and has the potential to severely startle and repel the intruder.
Yet another way in which smart technology adds value to our homes. When we sell on our green smart home, this is a feature that is sure to appeal to future buyers.
Added convenience with an app
Smartphones, smart devices and personal computers have dramatically altered the way we stay in touch and access information. It’s therefore not surprising that smart home technology includes an app. This allows us to access the system from anywhere in the world through our smartphone, tablet or laptop. That means we could be away on holiday, or on the other side of the world, and still be able to monitor and manage our home.
We are able to adjust the various green features from the app. For example, adjust the temperature of a room simply by logging in and tapping away on our smartphone. The system is easy to use, and user friendly and doesn’t require any additional software. It’s simply a matter of downloading the app and logging into our account.
We have access to all the information that is being collected by the system from the beginning. Smart home technology isn’t complicated or time-consuming. In fact, every effort has been made to ensure it makes running our home simpler and convenient. When we’re familiar with social media, or the Internet we’ll have no trouble using the app to monitor and manage our home remotely from our laptop, smart phone and smart device.
Enhancing our green home
Ordinarily, smart home technology and automation may be seen as a luxury. We might think that it’s not necessary to adjust the temperature of the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system when we’re not physically at home
The true intention of the smart system is to increase the efficiency of the green features. The real power of the smart system lies in its ability to collect data on the way we use electricity and water in our home. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of green living, it’s easy to imagine that it’s all about saving money. In fact, there are real environmental benefits to conserving these resources.
Those who embrace these new green smart home technologies to monitor and manage their homes are able to enjoy the benefits of authentic green living. Although investing in a green smart home requires a larger investment initially, it is possible to recoup this through the momentous monthly savings. The green features and the smart home technology also adds value to our properties. Not only do we start saving money immediately, we’re able to command a higher price should we sell on our home. Future buyers will be on the lookout for green smart homes as the trend develops.
From the aforementioned it is fair to conclude that a smart green home offers more than the ability to save on monthly running costs. It gives us the opportunity to understand exactly how we use resources such as water and electricity to maintain our standard of living and lifestyle. We monitor and efficiently manage our home which allows us to adapt it to suit our needs.
Being able to create a comfortable, efficient home is a true luxury. While green homes offer us the ability to save money and resources, smart home technology takes it one step further. We maximise the efficiency of the green features included in the design and construction of our home. In the future, this will be the standard by which all homes are measured. Why merely invest in a green home? Rather invest in a green smart home!