Most know that the food present on the dinner table is capable of enhancing or weakening our health. But a fact not known to many is that the same dinner table may also be responsible for the loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, water and air pollution, and global warming.
Modern farming practices have gained success in producing abundant food but the chemicals used for the production of that food has a detrimental effect on humans and the environment. Though the present scenario looks like it is out of control, it is not. A small life-changing approach makes a big change.
This approach is nothing but Eco-Healthy Eating. Yes, a few changes in eating habits not only gives us a disease-free, healthy, and happy life but saves the environment as well. This article explains how Eco-Healthy Eating is advantageous to us and the environment. So, here are the 5 benefits:
5 Benefits of Eco-Healthy Eating to Humans
1. Freedom from Added Sugar
Eco-Healthy Eating involves avoiding foods and beverages containing added sugar. As we know, added sugar gives rise to various health problems such as obesity, diabetes, increased blood pressure, etc. in humans, whereas practicing Eco-Healthy Eating gives us freedom from all the problems related to or caused by added sugar.
2. Freedom from GMOs
GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are capable of damaging organs and harming the reproductive system of animals. Most food products are not labeled as GMO-free so we are always at risk of consuming GMO-rich foods. Eco-Healthy Eating not only keeps us away from GMOs but also from the dangers associated with them.
3. Freedom from Pesticides and Artificial Fertilizers
Eating organically is another part of Eco-Healthy Eating. Since no artificial fertilizers and pesticides are used in producing organic food products, the body remains free from the ill-effects of these chemicals when we eat organic foods. However, organic foods produced locally are the most nutritious.
4. Freedom from the risk of dreadful diseases
Today, we are involved in eating more meat products, processed foods, and other such options, which increases the risk of life-threatening diseases prevalent in these times. When we practice Eco-Healthy Eating, we also get freedom from the risk of such diseases.
5. A Healthy Body, Mind, and Soul
When we practice Eco-Healthy Eating, the body gets proper nutrition, savings increase in the long run, we remain fit and disease-free, and none of our eating habits hurt the environment. Moreover, our Eco-Healthy Eating practice empowers the economically weaker sections and motivates us to donate any extra food we might have. All this, when combined, gives us a healthy body, mind, and soul.
5 Benefits of Eco-Healthy Eating to the Environment
1. Healthy Agriculture Land
In order to increase the yield, food producers are not shy of using techniques and chemicals that harm the environment. They take away the power of agricultural land to produce nutrient-rich foods. Eco-Healthy Eating promotes the production of organic produce which eliminates the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, making agricultural land more potent.
2. Less Pollution
Eco-Healthy Eating causes less pollution because it involves avoiding sugary foods and consuming organic ones. Let us understand it this way – the harmful chemicals used aggressively for producing crops runs down to the water resources during rainfall, polluting these water bodies. The last phase in the cultivation of some crops, like sugarcane, involves burning the remains. This causes air pollution.
3. Freedom from Unexpected Climate Change
Eco-Healthy Eating also means avoiding meat and dairy products. Amplified consumption of dairy and meat products means increased use of farmland for livestock. In comparison to the vegan foods produced on the same farmlands, its use for the production of animal-based products causes global acidification and emission of greenhouse gases. This further causes global warming and leads to unexpected climate changes.
4. Less Waste
When we eat Eco-Healthy, we avoid extensively packed processed foods and drinks. A common practice is to throw the packaging away after consumption; but when it is thrown away, it becomes part of the landfills. And we are very aware of how harmful this waste is for the environment.
5. No Pollution by Burning of Fossil Fuels
Eco-Healthy Eating promotes eating locally and seasonally. It implies food products do not need to travel long distances from the farms to the end consumers. This prevents burning of fossil fuels which directly decreases the air pollution.
This is how Eco-Healthy Eating benefits humans and the environment. One thing is for sure, Eco-Healthy Eating saves human beings and the environment from the consequences of unhealthy foods.
Are you a couple who understands the benefits of green and eco friendly living? Perhaps you started out by separating and recycling your rubbish. Then you read about solar water heaters and installed one into your home. Perhaps you’ve even gone as far as installing rainwater catchments and photo-voltaic solar panels.
But the question is this: What will you do when the time comes to move out? How will you find a home that someone else has invested in as much as you have in your current home?
The sad truth is that converting your home into a green smart home is often over-capitalizing on your property (depending on the area in which you live). Not many buyers will appreciate your green smart home features enough to give you a return on investment. So unless you’re planning on staying put for a really long time, green smart home features are not always recommended.
Growing accustomed to green and eco friendly living
But let’s say you’ve slowly implemented green smart home features into your home. You’ve added some solar panels. You’re collecting rainwater for your garden. You’ve even had a heat pump installed to save on your geyser costs.
And now the time comes for you and your family to move. All these green smart home features have become such a part of your life. Will you look for a home that has the same green smart home features? How hard will it be to find such a home?
This is a question of finding a new home for sale that offers the same green smart home benefits you’ve come to expect. These may include:
- Saving money on your utilities
- Living comfortably and sustainably
- Being independent of the grid
- Having a clear conscious about your impact on the environment
Green smart home development is slow but sure
Well, you’ll be happy to know that slowly but surely, green smart home development is catching on. Fully green smart homes are being developed.
Now buying a home like this is a big decision. You already know that green smart homes cost more than regular homes. But if you’ve done your research, you also know that green smart homes give you such a large return on investment, the initial price is well worth it.
But you already know that, don’t you? You’ve already experienced the savings and convenience associated with green smart homes features. Right?
Those bad experiences
You see, there are a lot of people out there who were quickly sold on the idea of green and eco friendly living. They understood that being off the grid would save them money in the long run. They also wanted less dependence on the grid and convenient living. But did they get what they bargained for?
Let’s face it: there are a lot of dubious companies out there who provide dodgy products—or don’t know how to install them. In short, many people have experienced problems with their green smart home features. And these problems are often enough to put people off green and eco friendly living for good.
Another issue is the return on investment. If green smart home features are not properly thought through, home owners may not get all the benefits they were promised. This is the case for many home owners—and maybe you are one of them.
So have you been scared away from green and eco friendly living?
These obstacles may easily scare you away from living as green and eco friendly as you’d like. But the truth is, living green and eco friendly is an inexpensive, hassle-free lifestyle that keeps you and your family happy, healthy and safe.
These three objectives are exactly what you should aim for:
- Happy: If the green smart home features in your home aren’t adding joy and convenience to your life, then something is amiss. Your home should aim to provide you with a happy life by making things comfortable and spacious. Everything you need is always on-hand. In addition, all aspects of the home require almost no maintenance.
- Healthy: Green and eco friendly living is healthy living. When you consider the five types of insulation all green smart homes possess, you can be sure your family will remain healthy during the harshest winters. The under floor hydronics radiant heating and cooling also ensures your family’s health without costing you the earth. As opposed to air conditioners, air is able to rise and circulate within the home—instead of circulating what is outside and bringing it into your home.
- Safe: The location of your home influences your safety. Be sure to choose an area with tight security and a close-knit community culture, making it a safe haven for families who want their kids to be able to play in the street without fear of harm.
Don’t these benefits seem worth it? Living green and eco friendly is a lifestyle that is becoming easier and easier to obtain. A few bad eggs should not put you off pursuing this kind of life.
So what about that initial capital?
Now an immediate objection many have when considering a green smart home is the price. Green smart homes cost significantly more than regular homes because of all the extra work and strategy that goes into them.
But buying a green smart home is a solid investment. People invest in properties all the time. They invest in properties with the hope that the value of that property will appreciate in value.
Buying a green smart home is a sure way to get a worthwhile return on your investment. Even though the market for green smart homes is on the increase, it’s currently a very slow market. This means that, say within five years—when the market for green smart homes has increased—your home will be worth a lot more than what you paid for it!
Now that’s what we call an overall return on investment. But let’s consider the compounding ROI you receive while living in your green smart home:
- You will save costs on water due to the implementation of rainwater harvesting
- Your electricity bill will be significantly low with the use of photo-voltaic solar panels
- Low maintenance strategies will ensure that you almost never have to fix up sections in your home such as roof tiles, repainting the walls, rust-proofing the banisters, maintaining the garden, etc.
These savings will add up very fast as the months and years of your stay go by. Soon you will grow accustomed to living in your home at a fraction of normal living costs! Now add these savings to your overall ROI when you sell the home, and you can see how buying a green smart home makes great business sense.
The responsibility to live green and eco friendly
One also cannot overlook the aspect of living with a clear conscious towards the environment. This human responsibility is wedged into the conscience of most of us. People who have children are especially concerned with the future of the planet and how their lives will ultimately impact life as we know it.
So let’s take a quick look at seven ways a green eco friendly lifestyle can have less of an impact on the environment:
- Utilizing rainwater reduces the need for chemically treating water for home usage. Of course when one person uses less water, this hardly makes a difference. But as the trend grows and more people stop needing municipal water, the need for chemically treated, fluoridated water will begin to decrease.
- Insulating a home is a great way to cut down drastically on power usage. Think about it. During the hot months, your electricity usage goes up because of fans, air conditioners and the like. In winter, heaters form a massive part of your electricity bill. But when a home is insulated at the ceiling, the floor, the windows and the walls, each room maintains its temperature for much longer.
- Generating and using photo-voltaic solar power ultimately reduces the need for burning fossil fuels. The sun is a limitless source of energy that can be harnessed by us to power our homes. Why use fossil fuel generated electricity when a renewable source is at hand?
- Planting a garden that is fully indigenous is a way to work with nature rather than against it. By excluding invader plants from your garden, you give indigenous plants a chance to thrive. And by planting indigenous trees and shrub, you ensure little maintenance and watering.
- A proper hydronics radiant system uses way less power than conventional heating and cooling methods. By having such a system in your home, you negate the need for grid electricity thereby having less of an impact on the planet’s fossil fuel usage.
- Through pipe insulation, water is kept at its temperature for much longer. This means that less electricity is used to heat up water when it is accessed through a tap. Again, this is another contribution to the planet’s welfare.
- Finally, by furnishing your home with low maintenance material, fewer chemicals are needed to repair and maintain wear & tear.
- For instance, using bamboo instead of tree wood shows an understanding for how important trees are to our environment.
- Using aluminum and stainless steel is a great way to ensure long life and low maintenance for your metal fittings.
- Roof tiles that don’t require painting mean that fewer chemicals are used.
- A decorative approach to gardening uses very little lawn area. This will mean never having to use a lawnmower to maintain your yard.
So as you can see, living green and eco friendly makes you a responsible citizen of the planet. Not only is it cheaper, more convenient and simple, but it’s also the right way to live.
There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t consider buying a green smart home.
If you and your significant other are highly conscious about living a green and eco friendly lifestyle, we’d welcome you to speak to your real estate agent and find out what options are out there.
What are the benefits of green and eco friendly living? Maybe we start with recycling, then think about installing a solar water heater. Maybe we even put in a rainwater tank or photo-voltaic solar panels.
Living green and eco friendly means we are passionate about preserving the planet for future generations. This is also a healthier way to live, with long-term cost savings.
Within the home, using sustainable materials helps us to conserve our surroundings. When shopping, we’ll also play our part:
- Buy local: This means that less transportation of goods over long distances was required.
- Honey: Be sure to check for a badger-friendly label.
- Vegetables: Buy fresh, loose fruit and vegetables (which uses far less packaging)
- Buy only what is needed, so there is no waste.
- Opt for eco friendly living biodegradable cleaning products
Let’s go back to nature.
In modern times, we are indoors for most of the day, including the time spent in our cars. And there’s no guarantee that the air we breathe is clean.
Dust, dust mites, fungi, bacteria and viruses are some of the more common air pollutants. Contagious illnesses and allergies are made worse by polluted air.
In a green home, the growth of mould and fungi is minimised. Radiant heating doesn’t produce the same kind of humidity as conventional heating systems. And as radiant heating is made up of a network of water pipes laid over the insulated floor, there is no extra equipment to collect dust within the home.
With traditional homes, chemicals that evaporate at room temperature are based in the materials. This is harmful to our health as well as the environment. Green homes use natural material and finishes and so the air in a green home is virtually chemical-free.
The trend towards green and eco friendly living is growing as people are becoming conscious about the environment. Conserving resources is always a good place to start. The first step is to change your own habits in your home, which will not only help save the environment but also costs. You will probably be surprised at how much unnecessary stuff accumulates in your home and ultimately ends up on a landfill.
So, let’s look at ways you can reduce consumption in your home:
Use less paper
Avoid using paper cups and plates: There is no need for paper cups and paper plates if you have a fully stocked kitchen. If you don’t feel like doing dishes, then rather eat out. It’s more costly producing these items and then having them end up on a landfill. You do have to make small lifestyle changes sometimes in return for a greener and eco friendlier home. And really, in this case some soap, water and a few minutes of your time is definitely worth it.
Eliminate paper napkins and paper towels: Paper in the home doesn’t only include magazines, newspapers and postage. Think about how many times you have wiped your hands or mouth with a paper napkin or tended to spillage with a paper towel. What’s worse is that paper towels and napkins are not recyclable, so they are definitely items you should scratch off your green and eco friendly living home shopping list.
This doesn’t mean you now have to walk around with a dirty mouth or dirty hands after consuming a plate of vegs at dinner. It simply means you should choose an alternative, which in this case could be a cloth napkin, which you can simply wash and reuse.
Magazines and newspapers: It’s not uncommon to find a stack of magazines and/or newspapers in many households, unless it’s a green home of course. But these days, technology allows us to enjoy the same reading experience on a digital device, as electronic versions of most reading material is now available.
Paper receipts: Most businesses, including retailers are making the shift towards a paperless environment. Email receipts are fast replacing their paper counterparts. Help move this paperless process along by simply requesting that an electronic version of your receipt be emailed to you instead, next time you do your grocery shopping.
Audit your mailbox: We all know how annoying ‘junk’ mail can be and as a result, it either ends up being stashed into a drawer or cabinet or thrown in the trash. This means more unnecessary paper either accumulating in your home or unfortunately ending up in the landfills. Avoid this by contacting the advertisers and asking them to remove your name from their mailing list.
Get your bills and statements online: There is obviously mail that you are expecting and wanting to receive, such as your statements and bills. In this case you can contact your service providers and request that they send you digital versions instead. These days most businesses offer paperless alternatives anyway.
Avoid using disposable products: Don’t use plastic shopping bags, but if you already have them in your home then simply reuse them instead of getting more from the retailer when you do your grocery shopping. You can also purchase permanent shopping bags made from cloth or canvas that you can re-use every time you shop.
Also, when doing your shopping check the labels on all the products you wish to purchase and only select products with recyclable packaging.
Reduce your home energy consumption
Choose energy efficient appliances: Select appliances with a good energy rating. This is usually indicated by stars. The more stars, the better the rating.
However don’t be fooled by larger appliances, as their energy efficiency is determined by size versus consumption. Because they are bigger, they will still use more electricity than the smaller ones.
Your fridge and freezer consumes massive amounts of electricity because it operates 24/7, 7 days a week. When looking for a more energy efficient model, consider one that has butane or pentane for insulation.
Some countries are even implementing minimum energy performance standards on all new refrigeration appliances. It’s better to consider these options (if available), rather than those that are “CFC free,” as this is no reflection of their energy consumption.
Be sure to unplug your appliances once you have switched them off. Many appliances have a stand-by mode, which means they still draw electricity even when they are switched off.
Consider insulation for heating and cooling your home: In summer you want to keep your home cool, whereas in winter we want to keep your home warm. Unfortunately this means more electricity consumption, which is not ideal when you are striving to conserve resources in your quest for a greener and eco friendlier home. The solution is simple. Insulation. Insulating your roof or ceiling will naturally block out heat in summer and trap warmth in winter.
Prevent Draughts: Draught proofing your home is simple and cost effective. All you need to do is make sure your windows and doors are closed and sealed properly. You can seal doors with draught excluders and get special seals for your windows.
If you have a chimney then get a damper to prevent heat from escaping in winter when your fireplace is dormant and also from entering your home in summer.
Don’t use down lights: Not only do these lights chew up a lot of electricity, but they also cause heat loss by interfering with the ceiling and insulation. A good alternative is Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs).
Use shading on your windows: A lot of heat enters your home through your windows in summer, especially if they are big and face west, east or north. Blocking the sun’s heat means you don’t have to use extra energy via cooling systems to cool down the interior of your home. In winter, simply close curtains or blinds to help retain the heat inside your home.
Manage your air conditioner effectively: Ideally, if you want an authentic green and eco friendly living home, you should avoid using an air conditioner altogether. Consider ceiling fans as an alternative as they are more cost effective and use less energy. However, if you feel you can’t do without an air conditioning system, then use it sparingly.
It helps conserve energy if you keep windows and doors closed while your air conditioning system is active. Remember to switch it on before the heat of the day has already penetrated your home, as this will allow it to cool the interior a lot quicker.
It also helps to invest in a unit that has a thermostat and/or a timer as it will allow you to manage the unit more efficiently by setting the temperature accordingly and enabling it to switch off automatically. Avoid setting the temperature too low, as it will use more energy to maintain it.
Reduce water consumption
Water is a valuable resource and so, saving water is an obvious choice if you want a greener and eco friendly living home.
Look out for water-efficiency labels and standards (WELS): This scheme allows various water-dependant appliances, as well as showers, taps and toilets to be rated in terms of water efficiency, which is determined by their number of stars.
Cut down on shower time: If you shorten your shower by just a minute, you could save 150 gallons of water every month. If you prefer to bath, then make an effort to use less water and spend less time in the bath so you aren’t tempted to top up with more hot water when the water cools down.
Harvest rainwater: Save water by watering your garden with collected rain water. This can be done by installing a rainwater tank.
Use recycled greywater: This is used water from your basin, sink, tubs, shower and washing machines. Even though it may contain various household waste material, it can still be used to water your garden. Take note that sewerage water is not greywater.
Invest in a water saving showerhead: Water saving shower heads fully compliment green homes, as they not only help save water but are also great energy and cost savers.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
These activities fully support a greener and eco friendly living home environment. Not only do they help you conserve energy, they also reduce the amount of toxic gas emissions which are released into the atmosphere during extraction, manufacturing and disposal of various resources. Take advantage of recycling programs. Simply gather all the recyclable material in your home, such as paper, tins, magazines and other items and drop them off at designated recycling sites.
Go green in your yard
Composting is also a great way to limit the amount of garbage that ultimately ends up on landfills and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. You can use food, as well as garden waste to produce compost which can then be safely fed back into the soil to help nourish your lawn as well as your plants.
Limit your fuel consumption
Transportation is a big contributor to your carbon footprint and so this is a great area where you can make a big difference. Reduce the number of errands so you use your car less. Instead of doing your shopping weekly, draw up a comprehensive shopping list and do your groceries fortnightly or monthly. If you are going on a long journey to an area you are not familiar with, avoid getting lost and clocking up additional miles by using a GPS.
Ultimately you want to try avoid driving where possible. If you are close enough to your destination, then rather walk or ride there on a bicycle. Not only will this help save fuel and the environment, but it will also have a positive impact on your health.
Avoid entertainment that uses energy: Consider spending more time reading and playing games to reduce the demand on electricity and natural resources.
Consider downsizing: Smaller homes are just easier to manage, especially if you want to reduce your consumption of resources. Smaller homes consume less energy for lighting, heating and cooling. So if you are aiming for a greener and eco friendly living home then consider downsizing. There will also be less space to accumulate paper and other unnecessary materials and you won’t need as much furniture or furnishings. If you intend to build your green and eco friendly living home from scratch, then be sure to consider green building ideas and techniques as well.
Reducing your overall consumption of various resources contributes to a greener and eco friendly living home, as well as a more sustainable living. Furthermore, you will also end up cutting costs significantly which is a great reward when choosing to go green. Remember to share these tips with family and friends. The more people that chooses greener living, the better it will be for the environment and for us all.
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 and eco friendly living 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 smart 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 and eco friendly living 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 and eco friendly living 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 smart 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 living. 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 and eco friendly living 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 and eco friendly living 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, 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 and eco friendly living 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 and eco friendly 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 and eco friendly 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.
Do you have a kitchen or bathroom in need of remodeling? Would you want to save the planet and your budget at the same time? The green and eco friendly living trend has a number of solutions that will do both. You can save water, save energy and add value to your home without spending a fortune.
Bathrooms and kitchens are two areas of the home that are particularly suited for green makeovers. They both rely on water and electricity to provide you with comfort and convenience of modern living. And they both offer you cost-effective ways of conserving these resources without sacrificing your style.
Getting green in the bathroom
Before you pick out the colour of your new tiles you’ll want to consider how you consume and heat the water for your bathroom. Here are some areas you could consider when planning your ideal eco friendly lifestyle bathroom:
Toilets: Surprisingly, your toilet uses the most water. If you’re still using an old toilet, it can use as much as 13.6 litres per flush. In the average home that would add up to 71.2 litres per person per day. Your toilet accounts for about 30% of your household water usage.
You could put a brick in the cistern to reduce the flushing capacity—that’s hardly a renovation! Instead, look for a dual-flush toilet. They are more efficient. A dual-flush toilet uses about 8 – 9 litres for a full flush, and only 4 – 5 litres with a reduced flush. They do cost more than regular toilets and offer you the dual benefit of saving water and money—truly green and eco frienly living. If you don’t want to replace your current toilet you can install a dual-flush converter.
Showers: Next to your toilet, the shower uses the most water in your home. If you shower for seven minutes with a conventional showerhead you’ll go through 112 litres of water. That’s 16% – 20% of your total water usage. Even if you think showering is better than bathing when it comes to practicing green and eco friendly living, that’s no longer true. The average bath uses about 80 litres of water. These days we tend to spend more time in the shower. A five-minute shower consumes 16 litres of water a minute—as much as a regular bath.
With a low-flow showerhead, you can halve the amount of water you normally use for a five-minute shower. And you’ll still enjoy the feeling of a powerful blast of hot water every time you step under the shower. If you consider that 70% of the water used to shower is heated, using a low-flow showerhead means you’re also cutting down on your hot water consumption. With the price of electricity constantly going up, using hot water wisely is becoming a necessity for eco friendly living.
Water heaters: What would a shower or bath be without hot water? That’s what makes your geyser such an energy-guzzler. You could simply buy a geyser blanket and make sure your pipes are fully insulated. Two steps you can take that would reduce your electricity usage by an extra 4 – 9%. While you’re at it, turn down the thermostat by a few degrees. You won’t feel any difference, and reduce your final power bill.
If you’re serious about green and eco friendly living, you’d probably prefer to splash out on a solar water heater. They are expensive and a retrofit may also require some extra spending; the end result is worth it. Install a solar water heater and you’ll see an immediate reduction in your electricity consumption.
Another alternative you may consider is a heat pump. Although you’ll still be using electricity, heat pumps are more energy efficient. A heat pump works by absorbing the heat energy from the surrounding air and using this energy to heat the water in your water tank. You save more of your total electricity bill with a heat pump.
Finishes and lighting: This is the part you’ve waited for! Choosing the finishes for your new bathroom is probably the main reason why you want to renovate your bathroom in the first place. It’s also an area where you can continue to exercise your desire for greener living. When it comes to selecting eco friendly living tiles for your walls and floors you have plenty of options:
- Concrete: This material can be used as both the finish and structural floor. That makes it a cost-effective choice. You can make it green by combining it with recycled aggregates such as glass, porcelain or coal fly ash.
- Linoleum: True linoleum is made from natural materials and should not be confused with sheet vinyl. It is naturally anti-bacterial, scratch-resistant and easy to maintain.
- Recycled glass: Tiles make from recycled glass give your bathroom a clean, bright and contemporary appearance without impacting the environment.
- Cork: Another natural material, cork is sustainable, durable and safe. It doesn’t release toxins, it’s doesn’t attract dust and it’s resistant to mould.
- Ceramic tiles: Arguably the most popular choice for bathrooms, ceramic tiles can be a green choice. Look out for tiles that are made from recycled ceramic waste such as discarded clay and tableware.
Be sure to use low VOC paints and adhesives when fitting your chosen flooring and finishes.
Energy efficient lighting is essential for every area of the home if you want to keep your electricity costs down. Fluorescent lights for your bathroom are now available in wide range of modern, attractive designs.
Creating an eco friendly lifestyle kitchen
Remodeling your kitchen is a serious business. It’s the one room in the house that has to be very practical, while at the same time you’ll want to add a touch of your own style to it. Eco friendly lifestyle houses have kitchens that are functional, appealing and green. These are the elements you need to consider before you begin demolition:
Countertops: There are many different eco friendly living materials you can use for countertops. Wood is a popular choice that gives you two options: bamboo and reclaimed wood. Bamboo is a fast-growing material that is sustainable making it 100% eco friendly. It’s durable, hypoallergenic, anti-bacterial and easy to install. Bamboo adds a touch of real elegance when used in the kitchen. Don’t stop at bamboo cutting boards. Make your whole countertop bamboo and enjoy the benefits of this beautiful material.
Of course, if you want to achieve a different style you could use another type of wood. And instead of buying something new, look for ways to recycle scraps of wood. With a little love and care, they can be restored to their former glory and provide you with a true green and eco friendly living alternative. Scrap wood is still solid and durable and it’s unnecessary to let it go to waste when it can be used to make the perfect countertop for eco friendly lifestyle homes.
Recycled stone-chip composite countertops are ideal for eco friendly lifestyle houses. These countertops are made from a variety of recycled materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill or burnt in an incinerator. They offer a mix of strength and stain resistance and there are plenty of different styles and designs for you to choose from. They have the appearance of granite countertops and are just as durable, with the added benefit of being an eco-conscious choice.
Flooring: Many of the materials available for bathroom floors can also be used in the kitchen. Bamboo works well for countertops and floors and can help you pull the look of your new kitchen together while saving you money. The same can be said for linoleum. It’s less expensive than tiles although you should call on a professional to install it correctly. It’s highly water resistant and you’re less likely to break your precious crockery on it if you accidentally drop a plate or cup.
Another material you may consider using for the flooring in your kitchen is cork. Made from the bark of a tree, cork has a low impact on the environment. Trees need to be at least 25 years before its bark can be harvested and then the cork can be stripped every 18 – 25 years without killing the tree. It’s one of the most comfortable flooring types available because it ‘gives’ when compressed. Think about how much time you spend standing in your kitchen and you’ll understand why cork is a popular flooring choice for this area of the home.
Appliances: If you haven’t already considered replacing your old fridge, washing machine and dishwasher for new, energy-efficient appliances—do it now. As you’re busy remodelling, it’s the perfect opportunity to cut down on your energy bill. A top/bottom refrigerator unit is a better choice than the side-by-side model because less cold air escapes when you open the door.
You should also investigate getting a convection oven. It uses a fan to drive heat from the source to your food. As a result, your dinner will be ready almost 25% faster than with a conventional oven. Everything from your kettle and toaster to bigger appliances such as your washing machine and dishwasher can be used more efficiently. Using power wisely is the hallmark of eco friendly lifestyle homes.
Lighting: Once again, you can take advantage of the modern fluorescent lighting available today to brighten up your kitchen. They could cut your total energy use significantly and your kitchen won’t will feel overly bright and stark. There is now a wide range of tones available to help you set exactly the mood you want in your kitchen without sacrificing your style.
As you get on with the hard work of removing old fittings and fixtures, think about what you’ll do with all that rubble. Estimates reveal that between 22% – 40% of landfills consist of construction debris. Of course, there will be many bits and pieces that you simply cannot salvage. And where possible, donate your old toilets, sinks, baths, kitchen cupboards and countertops to charities. This way you’re reducing the waste that you send to the landfill.
It is possible to build eco friendly lifestyle houses from scratch. Although it is not yet a trend, many homeowners are coming round to the idea of finding ways to reduce their consumption of water and electricity. Remodelling your kitchen and bathroom to embrace the principles of green and eco friendly living makes just as much sense for your pocket as it does for the environment.
Green alternatives are available, all it requires is for you to put some thought into the choices you make. Every element of these important rooms in your home can be optimised to run more efficiently. And the good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort to accommodate greener living.
Do you know how much money you could save by going green? You may be aware that eco friendly lifestyle houses are cheaper to run. Retrofitting your existing home or buying a new eco friendly lifestyle home can be pricey. How can you be sure that the money you save will help to pay for such an expensive investment? You’ll only be able to calculate the return on your investment if you know exactly how much you’re spending to run your home now.
An energy audit will help you understand where and how you use energy in your home. Once you know that, you’ll be able to work out how much you can save by switching to green and eco friendly living. Or, at the very least you can identify areas where you can reduce your consumption and costs.
Although a professional energy audit will be more thorough, doing it yourself will give a rough idea of the costs and the opportunity to understand your energy consumption better. Keep this checklist handy and make notes as you go through every room in your house.
Calculating the costs of your appliances and devices
Kitchens are filled with appliances that rely on electricity, so it’s a good idea to start your energy audit here. To begin with, you’ll need to determine the wattage of your machines. You can find this information on the wattage label or check the user manual. Once you have that information, work out how many hours a day you use the appliance. For example, your fridge runs all day while your washing machine may only work for 2 – 3 hours at a time.
These are the other appliances that you should take note of:
- Oven and stove
- Washing machine
- Coffee maker
Now you can start to calculate your energy consumption. For example, let’s take a washing machine with a wattage of 350 that works around 3 hours a day:
Step 1: Multiply the unit’s wattage by the number of hours you use it to find the number of watt-hours consumed per day.
350 x 3 = 1050 watt-hours per day
Step 2: The electricity on your monthly bill is measured in kilowatts, so you’ll need to convert your watts-per day figure. All you have to do is divide this figure by 1000.
1050/1000 = 1.05kWh per day
Step 3: Now you need to calculate how much power your washing machine uses in a month. Just take the previous figure and multiply it by 30.
1.05 x 30 = 31.5 kWh per month
Step 4: Use your last electricity bill to see how much you were charged per kWh. For the sake of this example, let’s use the figure of say $1 per kWh.
31.5 kWh per month x $1 = $31.50 per month.
There you have it; you’ll have to perform this calculation for every appliance in the kitchen, and once you’re done you’ll have a clearer idea of how much each one contributes to your monthly energy bill.
Once you’ve finished in the kitchen, move on to your living room and work out the costs for the following items:
- TV and decoder
- DVD player
- Game consoles
- Ceiling fan
- Music centre
If you have a study or home office, work out the costs of your equipment such as:
- Cell phone
- Fax machine
You’ll be amazed at just how many of the gadgets you own use power once you start adding them up. These will only account for a percentage of your energy bill. You also have to account for seasonal differences. In winter, your power bill surges because you rely on heaters to keep your home warm and cosy. Don’t forget to work out the power consumption for these:
Aside from your electronic devices, there are other ways you use power that contribute to your final bill. We’ll look at these next.
Adding up the costs of lighting and heating water
Energy for lighting accounts for around 10% of your energy bill. You can work out exactly how much you spend on keeping the lights on using the same calculation as you did for your appliances. Find out the wattage of your globes and average how many hours they on every day.
When it comes to heating water for bathing and cleaning, you’ll need to work things out a little differently. The most difficult part is calculating how much hot water you use in a day. As an example, let’s assume that you shower every day.
A standard shower uses 16 – 20 litres of water a minute. If you shower for 5 minutes that means you use a total of 80 – 100 litres of water. Now you should know that it takes 1kWh to heat 36 litres of water to a temperature of 40°. So a five minute shower would use about 2.5kWh of power.
To work out the total cost of your shower we’ll assume that 1kWh costs $1—remember to check your account to see how much you pay per kWh in your area. The final calculation will look like this:
2.5KWh x $1 = $2.50 per shower
If you shower every day, multiply $2.50 by 30 to get your total for a month which would come to $75. Now multiply that number by how many people in the house shower every day.
Keep in mind that your geyser doesn’t only use electricity when you turn on the hot water tap. It uses power throughout the day so that warm water is always available. Calculating how much energy it uses when not in use gets tricky. Refer to the rating on your geyser to give you a rough idea.
|Category||Standing losses: kWh per day|
Let’s assume you have a 200 litre capacity geyser with an E energy rating. Your geyser will use approximately 3kWh per day to keep warm. Add this to the total kilowatt hours you use for showering in a month and you’ll have a total of 165kWh. At $1 per kWh your total for the month is $165.
Adding up the costs
It may take you a bit of time to work out all the costs; once you have the final figures you’ll be glad you made the effort. You’ll be able to compare the running costs of a traditional home against those offered by eco friendly lifestyle homes and see just how quickly you could recoup your investment. You’ll get to know why greener and eco friendlier living saves you money.
Making the change to living green and eco friendly
With a clear picture of your energy consumption start making small changes to your home. Try some of the following tips and then watch what a difference it will make to your next electricity bill.
- Turn down the thermostat on your geyser: You can drop the temperature of your hot water by a few degrees and save a lot of money. You won’t really notice the difference, but you will see the results on your monthly bills.
- Invest in a geyser blanket: They’re not that expensive and they make your geyser more efficient at retaining heat without gobbling up power.
- Install low-flow shower heads: You’ll still get clean and enjoy your showers, and save precious water and electricity.
- Replace your incandescent light bulbs: Switch your old-fashioned light bulbs out for energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). They last longer too.
- Wait for a full load: Before you turn on the dishwasher or washing machine, making sure you have a full load of dishes or laundry. Don’t waste power and water on small loads; rather do them by hand if you can’t wait.
- Skip the pre-rinse cycle: Again, this applies to your dishwasher and your washing machine. Unless your dishes or clothes are heavily soiled, there’s no need to rinse them before you wash them.
- Don’t make your fridge too cold: Though you need to stop your food from spoiling, you don’t have to set your fridge to the coldest temperature available. That will only increase its power consumption.
- Don’t waste cold water: Collect the cold water when you run the hot tap and use it for your kettle or watering your garden.
- Switch off at the plug: Don’t leave your electronic devices plugged in when you aren’t using them or charging them. Even in standby mode they’ll use small amounts of electricity. This contributes to your bill at the end of the month.
- Insulate your home: To reduce your heating costs in the colder months, make sure your house is properly insulated. Seal up the gaps in window and door frames to keep the heat inside.
All it really takes is being mindful about the way you use power in your home. Once you know the true costs, it will be easier to adopt habits that can help you save. Green and eco friendly living isn’t just for the eco-conscious. Saving resources and money benefits everyone, even the planet.
The benefits of eco friendly lifestyle houses
If you’re serious about reducing your living expenses you’ll find that it’s worth investing in eco friendly lifestyle homes. They are purpose built to make the most of natural resources such as sunlight and rainwater. They take greener and eco friendlier living to the next level with features such as photovoltaic solar panels and rainwater harvesting tanks. They make living green and eco friendly just as comfortable because they’re fully insulated and use a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.
Eco friendly lifestyle homes require less maintenance and are cheaper to run. Your initial investment is much higher, though with the money you save on monthly costs, paying it off won’t be as long as you may think. If you try out some of the tips above, you’ll see immediately that greener and eco friendlier living makes a difference to your pocket. And with eco friendly lifestyle homes, you save even more.
Another advantage of green and eco friendly living that you rely less on the grid for power and water. When load shedding or water restrictions happen—your impact will be less. That’s something people don’t always factor in about green and eco friendly living. It is more cost effective, most comfortable and more convenient than living in a traditional home.
Try the home energy audit for yourself. Though it takes a little effort, you’ll be glad you did it. Even if you’re not ready to make the move to an eco friendly lifestyle house just yet, you’ll find ways to save on energy while still living comfortably. Going green isn’t about making sacrifices. It’s about finding ways to use resources wisely. Get the most out of your electricity supply and save!