Kyasol Rainwater Harvesting Transcript

Kyasol Rainwater Harvesting Transcript

Kyasol Green Building Solutions

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

Links are at the end of the transcript.

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

00:04 Introduction to Radio Live Green Smart.

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

00:56 What is rainwater harvesting?

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

Jonathan: Hi Emmanuel, thanks for having me.

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

02:25 Introduction to Kyasol Green Building Solutions

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

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

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

04:10 What is rainwater harvesting used for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emmanuel: Ok

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

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

Jonathan: Yes, for sure. Top

07:17 How do you start harvesting rainwater?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11:25 Can you retrofit underground tanks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emmanuel: Thank You.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20:13 What if the tanks are empty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27:06 Summary of above vs underground tanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

29:35 Ways to monitor the tank levels?

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

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

31:09 Wrap Up

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

Links:

www.livegreensmart.com

www.kyasol.co.za

End of Transcript Top

 

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

Rain-Rain go away, Come again another day

This line from a nursery rhyme is sung usually by children when they want to play. Such lines make children even cuter. And as adults we understand the importance of rain and only sometimes have such thoughts, especially when we have outdoor plans.

In fact, those following an eco-lifestyle appreciate rain and engage in various rainwater conserving activities such as rainwater harvesting, the process of accumulating and storing rainwater for future use. This is a successful method to prevent rainwater from running off.

Although rainwater harvesting is an ancient method its value is being realized again. The unstoppable development, cutting down of trees, and the expansion of concrete cities globally is disturbing our environment and is introducing uneven rainfall, floods, and drought in almost all parts of the world. One of the methods to slow or prevent this devastating phenomenon (in the long run) is rainwater harvesting.

Different Ways to Harvest Rainwater at Home

Harvesting rainwater is not a tough task, nor does it require any technical expertise. Below are some of the most common methods available to anyone wanting to conserve rainwater at home.

Establish A Rain Barrel: This is the easiest method to harvest rainwater. We just need a rain barrel (or use an old drum or a big trash can) and connect it with a pipe that moves the rainwater from the veranda or rooftop of the house. Remember to cover the barrel’s top, otherwise it becomes the breeding place for mosquitoes.

Make A Rain Garden: Build a rain garden at home. It’s a hollow landscape which uses local soil, native plants, etc. to free the water from pollutants, and allows it to settle in the ground. It is very easy to build, looks good all year, and positively impacts on the environment.

Prepare A Rain Chain: Rain chains look beautiful and are very simple to prepare (we just require some materials and tools to make one). The biggest advantage of rain chains is that they are a beautiful alternative to PVC downpipes. These environmentally-friendly and fashionable accessories prevent the rainwater runoff by transferring it downwards to a storing container or a drain. Visit 20 Creative DIY Rain Chains for ideas in creating these rain chains.

Build A Rain Saucer: Building a rain saucer is a fast DIY way to store rainwater. This is a free-standing system for collecting rainwater and fills up surprisingly fast. It looks similar to an umbrella (though upside-down), forms a funnel when unfolded and fills the container with rainwater. This system catches rain directly from the sky, so possibilities of contamination are almost non-existent. Visit DIY Stand Alone Rain Collector for Urban Farms and Community Gardens to learn how to build a rain saucer.

Rainwater collected through the aforementioned methods is stored and then pumped to fulfill various non-drinking purposes such as watering the garden, flushing the toilets and washing clothes in a washing machine..

Benefits of Rainwater Harvesting

By harvesting rainwater, we are utilizing an existing resource. A lot of benefits are provided by rainwater harvesting, some of the critical ones are mentioned below:

Reduction in Water Bills: The water collected via rainwater harvesting is utilized for various non-drinking purposes. Several small businesses and families use rainwater and enjoy a reduced water bill.

Appropriate for Irrigation: Rainwater is mainly free from chemicals, making it a perfect option for watering gardens and irrigation.

Reduces Depletion of Utility Potable Water: The growing population has also increased the demand for potable water and to fulfill these demands utility water resources are expensive and becoming scarce. Rainwater harvesting prevents this depletion.

Reduces Soil Erosion and Floods: During rainfalls, the rainwater stored in huge storage tanks prevents the areas located at lower altitudes from flooding. Moreover, it reduces soil erosion and prevents the surface water from being contaminated with fertilizers and pesticides. So, less rainwater run-off leads to cleaner ponds and lakes.

Use for Various Non-Drinking Purposes: The harvested rainwater is utilized for various non-drinking purposes such as washing clothes, flushing toilets, washing cars, watering gardens, etc.

Rainwater Harvesting and Your Home’s Design

When learning about the benefits of rainwater harvesting, some start showing interest and practicing it at home. Though rainwater harvesting is possible for every household, the best results are achieved when the home is well-designed to harvest rainwater.

The retrofitting of rainwater harvesting in an existing house, though not impossible, is more difficult, and less efficient. It is always preferred and more efficient to design the rainwater harvesting system from the ground up when designing the dwelling. In a new home, we’re not only able to design for efficient rainwater harvesting, we’re able to install the optimal system. This is achieved when the roof is designed for such a system, as well as the placement of the downpipes, keeping the gravitational flow of water in mind for the water tank placement – and also when including the monitoring and management of the rainwater harvesting system as part of the smart technology system. There are various other combinations and such combinations make the home an ultimate green and eco-home.

Most Efficient and Cost-Effective Way to Harvest Rainwater

There are numerous ways to harvest rainwater, but the most efficient and cost-effective way is to install a large tank underground and to connect it with the downpipes from our home’s roof. This way the tank is out of sight and does not take up space above ground. The water is also kept at a cooler temperature.

If we go for a complete rainwater harvesting system instead of just a rainwater tank, we’re able to achieve optimal results, including low maintenance.

Rainwater Management Systems

Rainwater management systems are another green initiative to use rainwater most efficiently. Though each rainwater harvesting system is different and employs different methods, the following elements and procedures are common to all:

  • A tank is used to store the rainwater collected from different surfaces such as roofs. The size of the tank depends upon the available space and its usage. These are either buried underground and out of sight or are above ground.
  • These systems come with a control unit that monitors, either manually or systematically, the water level of the rainwater tank. Some advanced models provide extra information like water temperature, pump pressure, and fault diagnosis.

  • A filter is present that stops debris (dirt and leaves) from flowing into the rainwater tank.

  • The rainwater tanks which are buried below the ground require a pump to deliver the water where it is needed. The gravity feed systems won’t require a pump, the raised rainwater storage tank feeds the water to necessary points with the help of gravity – unfortunately, such systems limit water harvesting volumes and are rarely used in domestic structures.

  • A different pipe system needs to be installed which supplies the harvested rainwater to where it’s needed. This pipe system would be connected to the washing machine, toilet and water irrigation.

  • Where the utility water supplier delivers water to the home, it is advisable to be connected to the main water supply because the rainwater harvesting system does not cover all water demands throughout the year.

  • A hybrid system is optimal, where rainwater is harvested and used in combination with the water mains. With such a hybrid system the mains and rainwater complement each other.

Smart Technology and Rainwater Harvesting

Smart technology is rapidly blending into human life. We are mostly unaware that many aspects of everyday life are managed by smart technology. In the case of rainwater harvesting, the latest smart development is Monitoring rainwater with Talking Tanks in which continuous monitoring of the water level of harvested rainwater takes place. And where required, the water is released at a controlled rate. Water is released when it reaches the previously set points. These points are set by the user on the basis of storm or rain predictions.

The users would pre-set the levels of these rainwater tanks and control them remotely via an internet-enabled smart device such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This keeps the guesswork away from rainwater management. So, with the smart technology in place, homeowners minimize the possibility of rainwater over usage, for instance with longer than required irrigation cycles or irrigating too often.

Water Level Monitor in a Rainwater Tank

Employing a tank water level meter helps us monitor and manage rainwater usage. Say an indigenous garden requires a certain amount of water per square foot or meter, with smart technology it is easy to monitor and manage exactly how much water is administered during an irrigation cycle. Furthermore, it is advisable to wean the garden to use less water than it uses during the rainy season, thereby stretching harvested rainwater further during the non rainy season.

Conclusion

Rainwater harvesting is an effective component of a green and eco-lifestyle. This eco-friendly process benefits us humans, the garden and our environment. It’s time to face reality – we and the environment benefit with practices such as rainwater harvesting, it has certainly become a necessity.

Return on Investment

Return on Investment

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

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

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

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

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

Renewable Resources

Renewable Resources

Here are some renewable resources that are used –

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

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

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

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

Rainwater Harvesting, with Water Level Meter and Rainwater Sensor

Rainwater Harvesting, with Water Level Meter and Rainwater Sensor

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

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

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

These metrics can be monitored:

  • Rainwater tank level.
  • Rainwater usage.

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

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

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4 unconventional ways to save on your water bill (without cutting down on your water usage)

4 unconventional ways to save on your water bill (without cutting down on your water usage)

There is lots of advice out there on how to cut down on your water usage and save money on your water bill. But why deprive yourself of water simply to save a few Rand? We’ve come up with four ways to save money without having to cut down on your water.

Plant indigenous plants in your garden.

When a garden is filled with indigenous plants, you will barely need to water or maintain it throughout the year. Indigenous plants can withstand the hot summers, while still staying green during winter months. Imagine having to almost never water your garden except in drought months!

Awareness is increasing regarding trees and plants that are not indigenous. These plants are often referred to as invaders. Invader plants have a way of stifling the growth of native plants by:

  • Stealing moisture during dry seasons
  • Taking up space and crowding other plants
  • Self-seeding prolifically, not giving other plants a chance
  • Growing elaborate root systems that cannot be unearthed
  • Not adding any benefits to animals such as birds and insects

Another aspect to having these plants in your garden is the maintenance. Many of them steal moisture from your soil—meaning you are forced to water your garden more regularly to ensure the survival of indigenous plants. You will be required to trim these plants regularly to ensure they don’t take over. Worst of all, when seeding takes place you are left with hundreds of weeds.

The benefits to having a purely indigenous garden are many. Here are a few reasons we planted them in our homes:

  • Indigenous plants work well together. Because they are indigenous, they benefit each other; coexisting in a way that cannot take place with other plants.
  • These plants are more likely to stay green all year round. They don’t mind harsh climates, as they have already adapted themselves to our weather conditions.
  • Maintenance such as watering, trimming and shaping is minimal with indigenous plants. They work well together to create unity within your garden—without much effort from people.
  • Indigenous plants also bring life to your home. Because they house birds, insects and small animals, your garden will soon become its own little ecosystem. Another reason why working WITH nature is so much better!

So it’s not only about saving water—it’s also about all these other benefits. Now let’s look at another way to save water…

Harvest rainwater for everyday cleaning

Installing a  rainwater harvesting system on your property is an excellent investment. Rainwater is not fit for drinking, bathing or showering; but it can be used in almost any other capacity in your home. Use rainwater to flush your toilets, washing machine and your outside taps. In fact, any cleaning can be done with harvested rainwater which has been coarsely filtered.

Many people wonder whether rainwater is clean enough to use in the home. The answer is, YES! Basic rainwater collection tanks are perfect for watering your garden. But if you want to take it one step further, then a rainwater filtering system is excellent.

These systems perform three major functions:

  • First of all they collect rainwater more efficiently than regular surface mounted tanks. That’s because they are installed in strategic positions which maximise collection potential.
  • Second, these systems perform general coarse filtering of your water. This takes place by extracting the water from just above the surface—thereby giving you the cleanest portion.
  • Finally, these systems go one step further by distributing the water to certain areas of the home. This includes the toilets, the washing machine and the irrigation system for your garden.

That’s right. If you can get your rainwater tank connected to your plumbing, you can even use it for toilet flushing! This is a system that is usually pre-installed in a ready-built green home; but if you plan on staying in your home for years to come, there’s no reason why you can’t install such a system in your current home.

As mentioned, unfiltered rainwater is not fit for consumption. But some would argue that tap water isn’t either. So why fill your water filter with tap water when rainwater is free? If it’s available and accessible, you may as well use what nature has already given you free of charge! Since most of us use water filters/coolers in our homes, there’s nothing wrong with filtering your rainwater for the purpose of consumption. Simply access your water at the source, collect it in a jug, and fill your water filter. Within a few hours you will have perfectly clean drinking water that didn’t cost you a cent!

Now you may be wondering about the price. What does rainwater harvesting cost? How hard are these systems to maintain?

Although decent rainwater harvesting systems cost a bundle, they provide a return on investment that far surpasses their initial cost. This is a viable long term option for homeowners who want to save on their utility bill.

Maintenance on rainwater harvesting systems is minimal. These systems are designed in such a way that they run themselves. And because there are no complicated mechanics to how they work, they won’t breakdown or malfunction.

Reduce the need for running your taps unnecessarily

Plumbing has slowly evolved over the decades. Today we have awesome systems which will help you save on your water bill. Although these savings are small at first, accumulatively they make a massive difference.

One such system is a heat pump. Heat pumps work in conjunction with three other systems which keep your hot water warm within the pipes. These include:

  • Hot water pipe insulation
  • Insulation of the tank to negate the need for constant heating
  • A linked loop plumbing system to prevent waste

We’ll look at each of these aspects more closely. But first, let’s explore how having hot water immediately on tap ultimately saves water.

You may be surprised to learn how much water is wasted while you wait for it to warm up. Conventional plumbing systems allow water within the pipes to cool down within minutes of your previous use. So every time you need hot water, you have to run your hot water tap for about 15 seconds or more before it warms up.

This wastes A LOT of water! Collectively, litres and litres of water are lost. That’s literally money down the drain.

So let’s now look at the three factors that help you save money on your water bill:

  • Hot water pipe insulation

When hot water flows through pipes, insulation keeps it warm. Insulation material is wrapped around pipes to ensure heat is not lost while the water sits dormant inside. This ensures that hot water is immediately accessible whenever the hot water tap is turned on.

  • Insulation of your water tank

In addition to the pipes being insulated, the tank needs to retain its temperature too. By keeping the water tank insulated, water does not require constant heating. Electricity is saved and so is water—because again, you don’t need to run your tap to get to the hot water. It’s already there!

  • Linked loop plumbing

A linked loop plumbing system is another practical way to keep hot water accessible throughout your home. This again negates the need for running water to get it to the desired temperature. Linked loop plumbing ensures that water is always warm, always accessible no matter where you are in your house.

Use reputable green vendors to fit your plumbing systems

As with all industries, the green home industry is rife with low quality materials and installers. That’s why it’s important to find reputable vendors when looking into these systems. Yes, you will pay a little more. But rather that than having to worry about problems down the line.

Here are some you may hear about:

  • Leaking pipes

Leaking pipes may cause you unimaginable problems later on. Because these pipes are built into walls, floor and ceilings, they need to be of a very high quality. Low quality pipes will leak after a few years and breaking down your home to repair them is simply not worth it. And even if you don’t realise you have a leak, your water bill will be ridiculously high despite your attempts to save on water usage.

  • Cheap insulation material

We’ve already seen how insulation of pipes and hot water tanks can save money on your water [and electricity] bill. But if that insulation material comes loose, it’s function is lost. Additionally, if the wrong type of material is used, your insulation won’t be as effective.

  • Poor installation

When a green plumbing system is not fitted correctly, it will not perform as well. If it’s not performing the way it should, it’s not saving you money—and is therefore a useless addition to your home.

  • Cheap brands

Green home components should come from reputable green suppliers. There are countless cheap brands out there and many installers use these brands—choosing price over quality. Do a bit of research before you get an installer out and make sure they know their brands.

Don’t be discouraged by these possible problems. Fortunately there are companies that are serious about delivering a high quality service.

 These water saving strategies are probably very different from the ones you’re used to reading about. And while they are unconventional methods, they are super effective in giving you a return on your investment.

If you’ve never considered green features as a way to save on your water bill, then now’s the time to look into it. As green home development increases, more and more of these methods will be implemented. Accumulatively, when water is saved, it has a huge impact on our planet.

It also has a positive effect on the economy since everyone benefits when water is saved! So, for saving on your pocket, your planet and your peace of mind; implement these systems wherever you can and save our most precious resource.

Your questions about rainwater harvesting answered

Your questions about rainwater harvesting answered

When was the last time you thought about your water consumption? During times of drought we are all reminded of how necessary a steady supply of water is to our lifestyle. If all you have to do is turn on a tap, it’s easy to take this limited resource for granted.

But as the cost of potable water increases, the idea of collecting and utilising rainwater becomes even more attractive. Not only will it reduce your monthly expenses, it also means you’ll never be without water. And if you consider how much water you use every day for cooking, cleaning and consuming, it makes sense to reduce costs. In this article we’ll aim to answer some of the more common questions about rainwater harvesting.

What is rainwater harvesting?

Simply put, rainwater harvesting means having some kind of tank which you can use to store collect rainwater. It could be as simple as a large tank connected to your downpipes, or in the case of a purpose-built green smart home, a tank that is possible buried underground.

Without filters in place, rainwater is not potable and cannot be used for human consumption. But you can use it in other ways:

  • Washing your car and watering your garden
  • Flushing your toilets
  • Topping up your swimming pool
  • In your washing machine

However, if you install an underground tank, you can add a fine filter and a pump to channel clean, potable water right into your home. That way you can use the water you’ve collected for showering or bathing and cooking.

What size of tank do I need?

This depends on several factors. First of all you need to know the average rainfall for your area. Then you also need to think about how you will use the water you collect. If you’re only going to use it for irrigating your garden, topping up your pool and washing your car, then you may not need such a big tank. But if you want to also use the water you collect in your home, you’ll need a larger tank to ensure you collect as much water as possible.

The size of your roof and the material it’s made from will also influence the amount of rainwater you’ll be able to collect. You should also factor in the number of people in the home and how much water you use on a daily basis.

Discuss your situation with an expert and they will help you determine what you need. They’ll also be able to advise you on the best placement for your tank, and how to maximise the amount of water you collect. The placement of the collecting pipes is important in allowing you to collect as much water as possible.

Can underground rainwater tanks be retrofitted to an existing home?

Provided you have the space to do it, you can install an underground rainwater harvesting tank on an existing property. While it is much easier and cheaper to incorporate a tank into a new development, it can still be done for an established home. You may only be limited to the size of the tank you can install.

Underground rainwater tanks have some advantages over external tanks. They are hidden away so they don’t detract from your home’s appearance. And they may last longer because they’re not exposed to the damaging effects of the elements. Even the pipes can be buried to make sure the whole installation is neat and attractive.

How does the municipality charge me for sewerage effluent?

It might not cost you anything to collect and use rainwater, but you will still be charged for anything that flows through your pipes as effluent. In general, they tend to charge on volume, so the more water you use, the more you pay.

But this cost is based on the volume of water you draw. In other words, you will only be charged on the amount of water that has run through your water metre. So you won’t be charged on the rainwater that you collect and use. And if you re-use your grey water (from your bath or laundry) you can reduce the amount of water you send to the sewer for treatment down to as little as 5%. That is a tremendous saving for you and for our water resources.

But remember that there are rules governing the use of grey water. Because it has qualities that allow anaerobic bacteria to breed, it cannot be stored and must be disposed of safely. It must be sent through your sewerage system and not re-directed to a river or other water sources.

If you’re using the grey water from your laundry to irrigate your garden, don’t use detergents that contain phosphates. These will poison the soil in the long term, so look for a phosphate-free washing powder.

Can I use rainwater in conjunction with municipal water?

If you’re concerned that your water tank may not always be able to provide for your needs, you can rest assured that most rainwater harvesting tanks provide for an emergency supply. A sophisticated rainwater harvesting system uses a low water threshold sensor to automatically switch over to use municipal water directly, before your own rainwater supply runs dry. With such a system, nothing further is required for a continuous supply to where rainwater is designated.

What about electricity outages?

In the case of a power cut, these tanks have an override that allows you to switch over to the municipal supply. Thus provided there isn’t a water outage happening at the same time, you’ll still have access to water.

Do I have to clean the tank out?

Most tanks are self-cleaning so you’ll never have to worry about getting your hands dirty. A cleaning mechanism ensures that any sediment is flushed to keep your tank clean. It also helps to oxygenate the water and prevent anaerobic bacteria from building up. Most tanks also include some kind of screen or net to stop insects and debris from entering the tank.

You’ll also find that rainwater harvesting tanks require very little maintenance. When you consider how easy they are to operate, and how much money you can save, installing a rainwater harvesting tank is one of the best things you can do for your home.

What are rainwater harvesting tanks made from?

The tanks can be made from a variety of materials such as steel, plastic and even concrete. But the most common kind of water tank is usually made from high-density polyurethane. This is one of the safest food-grade plastics available. So you needn’t be concerned that any toxic chemicals will leech into your water. And it shouldn’t affect the taste of your water either.

How long will a rainwater harvesting tank last?

While this depends on the material used to construct the tank and where it’s positioned, most tanks will last you for a few years before they need replacing. If your tank is exposed to the elements, you can expect it to degrade at a faster rate. When a tank is buried underground, it will last much longer because it is protected from the sun, rain and wind.

Is it worth collecting rainwater in a low rainfall area?

The answer to this question depends very much on how you value the water you currently use. If you look at it merely in financial terms, it could be that the cost of installing a rainwater harvesting system is too great compared to the potential savings on your utility bills.

However, the value of water cannot be reduced to a sum of money. Water is necessary for a number of essential human activities such as bathing and cooking. These activities add significant comfort to our modern lives and if you have to consider the alternative, you’ll appreciate just how important it is. And if you use rainwater to irrigate you vegetable garden, it also contributes towards feeding your family. This means you save even more money than just that on your water bill.

Even during times of sufficient rainfall, it is essential that we use water sparingly and make every drop count.

Tips for using water efficiently

Should you already have a rainwater harvesting tank, it’s still important to make the most of your water. So here are some tips to make your store go even further:

  • Switch your irrigation system to manual and only use it when necessary.
  • Water your garden either early in the morning, or later in the evening when it’s cooler. That way the water will feed your plants instead of just evaporating away.
  • Reuse grey water from your bath or washing machine to water your garden. But be sure to follow the rules regarding the use of grey water.
  • While waiting for water to heat up, don’t let the cold water go to waste. Collect it and use in your kettle or for cooking, or to water pot plants.
  • Load up your washing machine or dishwasher before you switch it on. Don’t waste water on small loads.
  • Install a low-flow shower head and limit your time in the shower to five minutes.

There are many little ways to save water and they should not be overlooked, even if you are collecting rainwater. Adopting a green and eco friendly lifestyle should be about more than saving money. It’s about changing your attitude towards natural resources and reducing your impact on the planet.

The benefits of harvesting rainwater

The main benefit of investing in a rainwater harvesting tank is a financial one. You can save up to as much as 80% of your water bill. Of course the final figure will depend on the size of the tank you install and what your general water consumption is like. Remember, you can stretch any saving you would enjoy even further by incorporating some of the water saving tips suggested above.

You’ll also have the benefit of a consistent supply of water during times of drought or when the municipal system is switched off to carry out repairs and maintenance. It may surprise you that adopting a green and eco friendly living practice could actually make your life more convenient.

For new and existing homeowners, a rainwater harvesting tank represents an opportunity to save money and make a positive impact on the environment. And the ongoing issue of water security is prompting buyers to seek out homes that already have this feature. All green smart homes should include rain harvesting tanks and several other green and eco friendly features that make them ideal for the eco-conscious home buyer. These homes are particularly water and energy efficient, even going so far as to include a water-wise, low maintenance garden. In the future, we will all be forced to think about the way we use water and make drastic changes.

Your green and eco friendly living home checklist

Your green and eco friendly living home checklist

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

It’s no different when building a green 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.