Often the thought of recycling or being more energy efficient makes one think of expensive contraptions, modern interiors or fittings, and a lot of extra work to make the home more eco-friendly. While the results may not be physically visible all the time, doing your bit in the home on a daily basis is not as difficult or expensive as you may think, and can even save you money in the long-term. A green home is attainable with a few simple adjustments.
In a drought-stricken country, this is the first place to consider saving water. Shortening your showers, as well as turning the taps off while soaping your body or hair can save a considerable amount. But, this isn’t the only way you can save water. Purchasing shower-heads that provide a lower flow of water can save litres of water by minimally reducing water pressure. Placing a bucket in the shower to catch your grey water, allows you not only to save water, but also to recycle it by reusing it as vital water for your garden or washing your car.
Older cisterns can use between 9 and 12 litres per flush, while newer cisterns use about six litres. From using the age old ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow’ trick and limiting the amount of flushes, to installing a cistern with dual-flush that provides a button for a long flush and a button for a short flush, you can save a considerable amount of water. If you don’t want to spend any money at all, you can even place a plastic bottle or brick into the cistern to displace the water and allow less water to flush out whenever the button or handle is pressed.
We wash our hands and faces, brush our teeth and shave at the sink, which can use a considerable amount of water as well as products that may contain harmful substances. Turning off the tap while soaping your hands, brushing your teeth or lathering up your face will prevent water wastage. But as you save water you can protect the environment too. Certain shaving creams, deodorants, bathroom cleaners and cosmetics contain harmful substances known as carcinogens that, once accumulated within our drains, can affect the environment and the human body negatively. Try to buy products that use organic ingredients and whose containers can be recycled.
Synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon and acrylic based linens are not biodegradable, are petroleum based and cause pollution once washed. Non-organic cotton farms are sprayed with various chemicals which slowly cause damage to the environment and the health of the people who work and live on or near the farms. Choosing organic cotton linen is the better option, but if it is out of your price range, you can find linen that contains a mix of organic cotton and other synthetic materials at a more affordable price.
While South African winters don’t compare to those in the Northern hemisphere, the provinces which experience winter rain can get rather cold. Instead of turning the electric blanket on for hours, or placing the heater on and running up a rather large electricity bill, invest in a few extra wool blankets to layer up at night. If you find this doesn’t help, a water bottle will do the trick, and you can even recycle the water by emptying it into your plants the very next day once cold.
Apart from wool, almost all carpets are petroleum based and require large amounts of water and chemicals in order to be made. If you’re currently doing renovations, or are thinking about changing the flooring in your lounge, try to steer clear of synthetic carpets and opt for wooden floors that are natural, and don’t require heavy chemicals to clean. Carpets can also be a health hazard to those who have allergies, as dust mites and mould are difficult to get rid of.
For more information on eco-friendly building materials have a look at:
The lounge is a family space, often used to watch television, listen to music and even browse on the computer. But what a lot of us don’t know is that these electronics use a large amount of power, even when not in use. An idle computer, television or stereo consumes power continuously. Turning these units off at the wall when not in use will decrease your electricity usage and consequently your monthly bill. Switching from a desktop computer to laptop will also reduce your electricity usage as laptops use far less to energy to run.
The refrigerator uses a large amount of electricity to keep the interior cold on a constant basis. While you can’t turn it off at any stage during the day, you can make a few habit adjustments in order to ensure it doesn’t use electricity unnecessarily. Don’t stand in front of the refrigerator deciding what you’d like to eat, but rather decide beforehand. While you stand with the door open, the motor works harder to keep the interior cold and uses more electricity to do so. Aside from this make sure the door’s rubber seals are in good condition. If the seals are worn, the door won’t close completely, and once again more electricity will be used as it works harder to keep the interior cold.
A dishwasher can use between 40 to 75 litres of water per wash, but more modern, water efficient machines can limit this to around 13 litres. Hand washing your dishes does save water, but if you don’t want to get rid of yours because of the convenience, you just have to be clever about using it. Dishwashers use both electricity and water, so ensure your dishwasher is completely full before turning it on to avoid more frequent loads, and avoid pre-rinsing and drying options to reduce the amount of time in use.
While there are many more ways in which you can turn your home into a green zone, these are a few simple ways, written in collaboration with Private Property, to get you started. Saving water and electricity, and using more organic products isn’t as difficult as it sometimes seems to be, ensuring that everyone can do their part even if it’s in a small way. And if you’re selling your house, being able to highlight that it’s eco-friendly in each room can be a major selling point to potential buyers.