A well-insulated home can lead to significant savings on monthly electricity costs. The types of insulation listed here could be used –
Wall insulation: ‘Lambdaboard’ is made from eco-friendly material and can be fitted between walls, so that less electricity will be needed to heat or cool the home.
Floor insulation: A thick concrete screed insulates the house from external elements.
Roof insulation: Most heat inside a home escapes through the ceiling and roof in winter. In summer, hot air comes in through the roof. This is why roof insulation is important.
Double-Glazing: Double-glazing is an excellent investment. It consists of a window or door made up of two layers of glass with a gap between the layers. The air trapped between the panes of glass acts as an insulation layer.
At the first sign of winter do you dust off your heaters and throw your electric blanket on the bed? Or maybe you stock up on gas and firewood to keep you warm through those dark, chilly nights? With a green home, you wouldn’t have to do any of these things.
And the reason for that lies in proper insulation. You may be surprised to hear that a well-insulated home not only reduces your electricity bill, but it takes all the hassle out of dealing with the change in seasons.
Yes, insulation does mean a significant reduction in your heating costs. But the real benefit is that it keeps your home at an even temperature throughout the year; cool in summer and warm in winter. Green homes combine a variety of insulation materials and techniques to keep your home at the perfect temperature all year round.
Not only are the materials and techniques they use environmentally friendly, but they’re also remarkably efficient and effective. Here’s a breakdown of how a home should be insulated against the elements.
Lambdaboard: Built in-between external and separating walls
Lambdaboard is a high-quality, environmentally friendly alternative which provides superior insulation for homes. Lamdaboard is a polyisocyanurate, which is another name for a thermoset plastic. Essentially, it is closed-cell, rigid foam board set between two facers. The facers are made of a various organic materials such as fibreglass or paper.
Lambdaboard is the ideal insulating material and provides several benefits to homeowners:
- The foam core resists moisture which reduces the risk of rising damp on walls.
- It is made from recycled materials and can also be recycled itself which makes it really environmentally friendly.
- It performs better than most other materials in fire tests. It will not melt, drip or spread the flame.
- It has a wide service temperature range from -30° to 140°.
- It has the highest thermal resistance (R-value) per 25mm of thickness which makes it the most thermally efficient insulation material available on the market.
By inserting this remarkable material in-between exterior and separating walls, the temperature of each individual room is contained and maintained. The result is that heating your home in winter is cheaper and easier.
The Lambdaboard helps to keep any heat generated within the room, which in turn makes you less dependent on other energy-hungry heat sources to keep warm in the colder months. And in summer, the board keeps the heat of the sun out, which makes interiors cool and comfortable.
Here again, you won’t have to rely on expensive and environmentally damaging air conditioners to keep the temperature down. It’s not hard to see how using this amazing material to insulate every room in a home would make it more comfortable to live in.
Hydronics radiant heating and cooling
Homes built using this method to help homeowners control and customise the temperature of their home to suit their individual preferences, makes it a versatile and economical way to heat or cool your home.
How does it work?
Hydronics radiant systems circulate water through tubing laid in the floor between the foundation slab and the surface of the floor. They are connected to a hot water tank and gets cold water directly from the heat pump system. The feeder pipes are well-insulated which helps to maintain a consistent temperature throughout a specific area.
The system is laid out over multiple zones in the home and you can adjust the temperature of each zone individually. That means each member of the family can adjust the temperature in their area to suit their preferences.
What are the benefits?
When compared to regular methods, using water to heat or cool your home has several benefits:
- The floor surface of the area is heated or cooled, rather than the air within it. This eliminates hot or cold spots and makes it more comfortable for the people living in the house.
- There is no need for messy ductwork or noisy fans which means a cleaner and quieter home.
- Dust particles aren’t circulated through the air so there’s less risk for those who suffer from allergies.
- It’s easier to control the temperature of the building and set the temperature to suit your comfort level.
The system is compatible with any type of flooring so you don’t need to avoid using tiles throughout your home for fear that it will be cold in winter. With a hydronics radiant heating and cooling system, you’ll be able to walk barefoot across your floors no matter what time of the year it is.
Combined with the use of Lambaboard in the walls, it’s easy to see why these homes are both more energy efficient and comfortable to live in. Being able to control the temperature within your home, and maintain it without relying on expensive electricity makes a green home particularly attractive to anyone looking to buy a new home.
Any costs involved in such a system will be quickly offset by the reduction in running costs, especially as the price of electricity continues to rise. But beyond this, the knowledge that these methods are also kinder to the environment provides a benefit that cannot be measured in economic terms.
Going green doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your comfort. In fact, a green home is easier to live in and maintain, despite the perception that reducing your reliance on electricity means missing out on the convenience of modern living.
Adding a layer of insulation to floors of every home, ensures that the hydronics radiant heating and cooling system is even more effective.
On its own, an extra thick screed will provide your home with insulation. It is also a good idea to insulate the pipes carrying water.
And not only in the bedrooms and living areas – the kitchen, bathrooms and domestic quarters should be fitted with these pipes and an extra thick screed. So no matter where you spend your time, the temperature of the area will always be just what you want it to be.
Innovative ceiling insulation
One popular method of insulation consists of laying a thick roll of fibre-glass or asbestos material in the roof of your home to trap the heat inside. Although it may be effective, it certainly isn’t environmentally friendly. And it makes it awkward to access your roof space should you need to install new lighting or lay any kind of wiring. But there is a far more efficient and sustainable way to insulate your ceiling.
So what should you use in place of this? If you’re concerned about safety, you’ll be delighted to know that there is an entirely green technology to insulate the roof of your home. Called Isotherm, this insulating material is completely made up of recycled plastic bottles. Not only is this material environmentally friendly, it can also be recycled. You can’t get greener than that.
And it still has some other benefits that all homeowners will appreciate:
- Dust and water resistant
- Non-toxic with no associated health risks
- Lasts longer than most other insulating materials
Choose a ceiling insulation product that is effective and gentle on the environment. Once again, you don’t have to sacrifice modern comforts for the sake of greener living. And you’ll be reaping the benefits of reduced electricity consumption and the costs associated with it for years to come.
The double benefit of insulated plumbing
Don’t let any opportunity go to waste when it comes to insulating your home. Even the water pipes should be insulated. First, cover with an insulation material which is wrapped with insulating tape. And then, benefit from the insulation in walls, floor and ceiling.
You might think this is too much, but this only adds to the savings you’ll enjoy. Obviously all this insulation means that your hot water won’t cool down in winter or your cold water heat up in summer. Via a linked-loop system hot water is available a few moments after you turn on the tap.
So you won’t need to run your taps until the water reaches the desired temperature. This means you’re saving water too. And considering what a precious resource this is, it makes perfect sense to insulate your plumbing as much as possible.
Double glazing on windows and glass doors
You may think that this would be unnecessary considering how many other insulating methods are used to make green homes comfortable and energy efficient. But every technique available must be used to maximise the efficiency of green homes.
Double glazing refers to a window that consists of two panes of glass, an outer pane and an inner pane. Because the window is completely sealed, the air between them acts as a layer of insulation. This stops the warm air inside the home from escaping during chilly winters. And in summer it has the reverse effect; preventing unwanted heat from entering your space.
Once again, this reduces your need to keep heaters or air conditioners running constantly to maintain the temperature of your home. And there are some other benefits to double glazed windows that you may not be aware of:
- It reduces condensation which is the primary cause of mould in the home.
- It cuts down on medium to high-frequency noise, which makes for a quieter space.
- It’s harder to break through two panes of glass so double glazed windows and doors also act as a security measure.
Once again, a feature like this does tend to add to the cost of a home. But it’s easy to see how the benefits outweigh the initial costs.
It’s easy to see how much your energy costs will be slashed by taking advantage of these materials and techniques. Great care should be taken to ensure that every green home build conforms to the strictest safety standards. The materials and techniques used should not only be environmentally friendly, but also durable, effective and cost efficient.
A well-insulated home makes financial sense. Although it may affect the cost of your initial layout, your living costs will be significantly lower. And in less than 10 years the savings you’ll enjoy will more than make up for extra expense of buying a green home. With low maintenance costs, you’ll continue to enjoy modern comforts while also making a positive impact on the environment.
It’s one of the benefits of eco-friendly houses that few people are aware of. And while getting a good night’s sleep may not be the most obvious reason you should invest in a green home, it does have its advantages. When you’re well rested you perform better and that leads to an overall improvement in your quality of life.
But how do eco-friendly homes promote better sleep? The two important factors that influence sleep are noise pollution and air pollution. Green living promotes cleaner air and a quieter environment. Let’s look at how this can be achieved.
Insulation plays an important role in maintaining a comfortable temperature without consuming electricity. Such as:
Double-glazed windows are made up of two pieces of glass with a gap between them. The windows are tightly fitted to the frame to eliminate the possibility of air leaks. Not only does this prevent cold outside air from sneaking in through gaps, it also stops warm inside air from leaking out. It makes it much easier to control the temperature of the room which in turn keeps your room at a comfortable temperature for sleeping.
But the double-glazed windows also dampen the sound and keep the room quiet and peaceful. You’ll be able to drift off to sleep without flinching at every sound you hear.
This is another green living feature that has a dual purpose. First and foremost, it is best to use an eco-friendly insulating material called Lambdaboard. This material is completely recyclable which makes it ideal for use in eco-friendly houses. Lambdaboard is also highly resistant to chemicals used in adhesives during the building process. This makes it sturdy and durable and unlikely to sustain any damage.
Wall insulation not only helps eco-friendly houses to retain warmth in winter, it also provides sound insulation. Blocking out the noise of traffic and making your home a haven of peace and quiet.
It’s not uncommon for traditional houses to have some form of insulation in the roof. But this is often composed of harmful asbestos fibres which can be a health hazard. Once again, it is always best to employ an eco-friendly alternative.
Isotherm is a material made from recycled bottles, which means it’s sustainable and reduces your home’s carbon footprint. But it’s the addition of another insulating material that serves to protect your home from all forms of noise.
If you’ve never experienced a home that’s so well insulated it can be difficult to imagine how this could make a difference to your sleep. But light sleepers will appreciate the reduction in noise levels as a result of the thorough insulation offered by a greener living.
At the same time, all this insulation allows the kind of temperature control that ordinary home owners can only dream of. Eco-friendly homes remain warm in winter and cool in summer without needing to depend on heaters and air conditioners. If you do need to warm up or cool down a room this is achieved with the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system. A system of pipes laid under the floor that enables pumping hot or cold water to areas in the home where needed. The system is operated with little electricity and the temperature of each room can be adjusted independently.
It’s worth noting that the floors should also be insulated. The main reason for this is to make the Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system as effective as possible. Once again it adds to the low levels of noise pollution experienced in a green home.
It’s this even temperature that also contributes to getting a good night’s sleep. You won’t have to worry about electric blankets and heaters in the winter or running a noisy air conditioner all night in the summer. You can walk barefoot on your tiled floors all year round without any discomfort. And when you wake up refreshed in the morning you’ll have the energy you need to get through the day with ease.
Pure, clean air
Greener living implies that every element of a home, from the foundation to the roof tiles, is chosen with care. Eco-friendly houses aren’t just good for the environment, they’re better for the people who live in them. Green living extends to the way you decorate and clean your home.
You may not be aware of this, but furnishings such as carpets and wooden furniture are manufactured and preserved using harmful chemicals. That new-carpet smell is merely a sign that your carpets are leaking dangerous VOCs into the air you breathe. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) include highly toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene. Breathing in these chemicals can result in headaches, nausea and nerve problems.
Over time, these chemicals accumulate in your home, and older carpets are likely to leach even more of these toxic products into your air. On the other hand, eco-friendly houses and buildings use organic materials that aren’t treated with these poisonous products. Bamboo is an ideal material as it’s sustainable, non-toxic and durable. It adds to the clean and contemporary style of the home. Living green doesn’t have to mean unattractive! Bamboo is an excellent alternative to traditional carpeting. And if you would like to add carpets to your home, look for natural materials such as wool.
Paint and wood varnish are also prime sources of VOCs. There are eco-friendly alternatives available. If you’re re-decorating, do some research before you buy a product and make sure it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals that could damage the health of your family. Or consider natural alternatives that don’t require chemicals in the manufacturing process. Sometimes these aren’t readily available or practical, but minimising your exposure to toxic chemicals will help you save in the long run. A healthy home means fewer visits to the doctor.
Chemicals in the home
If living green is important to you, you’ll want to take a closer look at the products you use to keep your home clean. There are many non-toxic cleaners you can use to keep your home fresh and clean. And the good news is that they’re often much cheaper. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice can clean just as well as your regular brands, just without the dangerous side-effects. Get creative and make up your own cleaning solutions. Greener living can be a lot of fun and easier on your pocket!
Here are some other things you can do to make sure the air in your home is free of toxins:
- Vacuum your floors regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner. These filters trap even the smallest particles and keep them from circulating in the air you breathe.
- Add a few plants to your home. Plants are good at filtering the air keeping it clean and pure. Do some research to find out which plants are particularly suited to this task.
- Open your windows. For just a few minutes every day, you should open the windows in your home to allow the air to circulate. Stale air will be forced out and replaced with fresh, clean air.
- Take your shoes off at the door. Avoid dragging in dirt and toxic particles by removing your shoes as soon as you enter your home.
- Avoid storing paint and adhesives in your home or garage. Rather, keep these in an area with good ventilation to avoid the build-up of toxic airborne particles.
When you think of a green home you may only focus on the features that help you to save resources and money. Additionally, true green living requires you to go beyond that and examine every element in your home. Your furnishings can contribute to a negative impact on the environment in ways you may not be aware of. By understanding how items are produced you’ll realise just how many dangerous chemicals are involved.
Reducing these toxins in your home is not just kinder to the environment; it also makes your home a safer and healthier space. Whether you have a young family or about to retire, ensuring the air quality of your home is essential for a healthy and happy life.
The importance of good ventilation
There’s another reason why eco-friendly houses result in a better air quality—they’re properly ventilated. Ironically, it’s the insulation that has a big role to play in a properly ventilated home. By preventing air from flowing in and out of your home through gaps in windows and under doors, the air inside is less likely to become polluted from outside sources.
But, when it comes to bathrooms and kitchens, good ventilation can prevent mould and mildew from accumulating. Mould spores are always circulating in the air, but when they find an area with the right combination of damp and warmth, they multiply. That’s why bathrooms and kitchens are most at risk. You may not be aware of a mould problem until it gets too big to ignore. By then, the damage is already done and removing it can be costly.
In eco-friendly homes, good ventilation stops this from becoming a problem. And allergies are less likely to occur when green living principles are applied. Ensuring the purity of the air inside your home is an advantage of green living that few people appreciate. And it makes a real difference to your quality of life.
Studies have concluded that ‘sick-building syndrome’ does exist. It’s the reason behind poor productivity and an increase in opportunistic infections in the people who live and work in them every day. Eco-friendly houses and buildings promote better health, and it’s been proven. If that’s not enough to convince you to start living green, consider the effects a toxic home has on your quality of sleep.
Clean air and little noise are the best ways to get the rest your body needs. Eco-friendly homes provide these features for homeowners and the benefits are immediate. Families who live in a green home are healthier, happier and more productive. That all starts with a good night’s sleep and the best way to get that is to make sure your environment is clean and quiet.
Another benefit of greener living is the peace of mind it provides for eco-conscious homeowners. When you know that your home and way of life are not impacting the environment to its detriment, you can sleep easy at night.
Are you getting bored with your winter wardrobe? Tired of having hearty winter stews and soups for dinner every night? Well, it won’t be long before you’re complaining about the heat and searching for ways to cool down. This summer, instead of turning on the air-conditioner for instant relief from the heat, try some of these green living tricks instead.
- Keep your curtains and blinds closed.
Did you know that up to 30% of unwanted heat comes from your windows? If you keep your blinds and curtains closed, you can stop the heat coming in and turning your home into a mini-greenhouse. It’s a simple tip that can lower the indoor temperature by a few degrees.
- Make an eco-friendly air-conditioner.
Just because you decided to try living green doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Fans don’t use as much electricity as air-conditioners, so try this handy tip. Fill a mixing bowl with ice (you could also us an ice-pack) and position it at an angle in front of your fan. When you switch the fan on, you’ll be hit with a blast of super-cooled air. It works like a charm!
This is essential for hot summer nights when you’re battling to fall asleep. Open windows on opposite sides of your room, or house to let the cool air flow through. As the earth cools down during the night, the air gets cooler too. With a gentle breeze wafting over you as you drift off, you’ll drop off in no time.
- Sleep on a buckwheat pillow.
Another tip to help you get a good night’s sleep in the hot summer months is to invest in a buckwheat pillow. Unlike synthetic fibres, buckwheat hulls allow the air to flow through the pillow. They don’t trap your body heat and you won’t wake up with a sweaty head in the morning.
- Set your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise.
You don’t have to abandon all your creature comforts for the sake of greener living. Make the most of your ceiling fan by adjusting it every season to achieve the effect you want. By setting the blades to rotate counter-clockwise in summer, warm air that accumulates near the ceiling will be blown away. You’ll have the benefit of cooling breeze to help you beat the heat.
It’s easier to lower your body temperature than trying to cool your whole house. So keep a supply of ice-cold drinks, ice lollies and cold cloths on hand. Add ice to your drinks and dress in loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Water helps you regulate your body temperature, so keep hydrated.
- Turn on your bathroom fan.
By pulling the hot air out of your bathroom after a steamy bath or shower, you can stop that heat from seeping out into the rest of your home. The exhaust fan in your kitchen is used the same way.
- Change your incandescent bulbs for CFLs.
Incandescent bulbs are energy hungry and spill almost 90% of their energy in the form of heat. On the other hand, CFLs use less power to generate light and they don’t spill as much energy. You’ll be saving money and living greener if you make the switch.
South Africans need little encouragement to heed this suggestion. When using your oven it sends the temperature in your kitchen soaring. Make a fire outside and enjoy some al fresco dining in your garden. A different way to enjoy a beautiful summer’s evening?
- Experiment with no-cook recipes.
If you really want to save electricity, money and keep your home cool, try out some no-cook recipes. There are plenty of tasty dishes to concoct without ever turning your oven on. If you’re rather cook, how about using a slow cooker. Prepare your meal in the morning and return to a delicious meal at night without the heat.
These little tips helps beat the heat. And if you’re prepared to spend a bit of time and money, there are some bigger projects to cool your house down for the many summers to come.
How to heat-proof your entire home for summer
Eco-friendly houses use green technology to keep cool in summer and warm in winter. Before the foundation is laid, carefully planning ensures that the house is orientated correctly. In the Southern Hemisphere, homes that face north are naturally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. The orientation of the house makes the most of the natural sunlight that falls as the earth rotates.
And eco-friendly homes are insulated. Insulation prevents warm air escaping in winter and hot air from entering the home in summer. To help maintain an even temperature indoors, a Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling system is ideal. It uses little energy and allows for the management of individual temperature zones. Hydronics Radiant heating and cooling systems comprise of a network of pipes to pump warm and cool water under the floor. That means walking bare feet on a tiled floor in the middle of winter without discomfort.
With this technology, eco-friendly houses are expensive. Though you recoup your costs with excellent savings on electricity, water and maintenance. If you’re not ready to invest in an eco-friendly home, there are some things you can do to embrace greener living and keep your home cool.
It’s one of the best investments you can make. Use an environmentally-friendly material. Reap the benefits of ceiling insulation. It makes your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. You’ll save electricity and have a comfortable indoor environment to enjoy for years.
- Insulate the rest of your home.
Take a weekend, grab some caulk and weather stripping and set to work patching up gaps in your window and door frames. You’d be surprised what a difference it will make to the temperature in your home throughout the year.
- Get a blanket for your geyser.
By insulating your geyser you’ll stop the heat it radiates from escaping into your home. And, your geyser will be more energy efficient so you’ll save on electricity every month. Another financial benefits of living green.
- Add awnings to your windows.
Not only do awnings make your home attractive to potential buyers, they’ll also stop the sun from shining right into the room in summer. Cooling and attractive, awnings are a great additional to your arsenal to contain high temperatures.
What could be a better example of green living than planting some carbon-dioxide loving shrubbery? And if you plant them in the right place, you’ll keep your home cooler too. Planting just three trees in strategic positions helps reduce your heating and cooling costs. Place them in front of windows that get the sun in summer, or use them as wind breaks to protect your home from icy wind in winter.
- Paint your roof a light colour.
A light coloured roof reflects the heat of the sun and reduces the temperature inside your home. You could also paint your terrace in a lighter colour to increase the effect.
- Go for double-glazed windows.
Double-glazing refers to a window made of two panes of glass with a space in-between. This space could be filled with gas, or left empty. Double-glazed windows help to insulate your home. As with other forms of insulation, these types of windows help keep eco-friendly homes cool in summer and warm in winter.
- Install a solar attic fan.
As the name implies, these fans run on solar energy which makes them perfect for living green. They run quietly, require virtually no maintenance and help to cool your home down. Plus, they’re not that difficult to install.
Add a roof vent to help with the airflow and reduce the amount of heat that accumulates in your ceiling space. You could have a go at installing it yourself to save money.
Implementing one or more of these tips will go a long way to make your home cooler in summer without adding to your carbon footprint. Living green does not mean you have to sacrifice modern conveniences. It’s about thinking differently to benefit your quality of life while saving.
Turning traditional homes into eco-friendly homes does require spending quite a bit of money. However, the expenses are recouped via savings on future running costs and maintenance. You’ll discover there are other benefits when adopting eco-friendly habits.