5 Tips to a Greener Home
Whether you are building from scratch or buying a pre-existing house there are always ways to be more environmentally friendly. For most of us the family home is the biggest contributor to our individual carbon footprint. The best way to reduce our individual impact on the planet is to live in green homes.
What is a green home?
A green home is a house designed or modified to be environmentally friendly, sustainable and efficient in the use of utilities. Eco-friendly homes are not only good for the planet but they can be good for your wallet too in the long run.
Here are some tips to help you save money on your bills and make your home more environmentally friendly.
Design is one of the most important aspects when determining how green a house is going to be. Everything from its elevation to which direction it is facing in affects the energy required to run it. If you’re starting from scratch try to work with the land. Think about natural light, air flow and even drainage! Oh yes, that most sexy of subjects.
New build or not, insulation is going to be crucial. We might live in a warm, dry country but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get cold. Insulation will help keep the heating bills down but also keep the house cool in the summer reducing the costs of running the air-con.
We get a lot of sunshine; that’s why Australians are happier, friendlier and more outgoing people than our Northern European cousins. So let’s make use of that sunshine and get some solar panels up! Solar power has great return on investment and there are lots of options to help reduce the initial cost of installation.
It’s even possible to run your home on solar power; the air-conditioner, kitchen appliances and more can be run on the power your home draws from the sun and there might even be some left over to sell back to the grid! Sunlight is free and you don’t even need a clear sky to generate electricity with solar panels so there’s no reason not to get panels.
Talking of appliances… It’s easy to underestimate how much power our appliances consume, even when they’re not being used. Look closely at the tags on your appliances and if renovating or kitting out a new home look out for appliances that are ENERGY STAR certified.
A great tip is to opt for or convert to LED lights. You’ll save a ton of money and you’ll be using less electricity. Moreover, LED bulbs will help keep your house cooler in the summer months as incandescent bulbs convert 80% of their energy to heat – so turning on 8 100 watt lights is like turning on an 800 watt heater! Sweaty!
The right sized house
We’re used to big houses in Australia. Even our “small” apartments would be considered excessive in other developed nations but just because we’re used to space doesn’t mean we need it all.
A smaller house is more efficient to run, less land needs excavating, few materials are used and therefore manufactured and transported, costs less to heat and cool, fewer taxes are payable and best of all there’s less to clean! Plus they’re cheaper to build and/or buy. Less cleaning is the biggest selling point though, right?
If you’re building a new house you can save a lot of money and environmental costs by anticipating future needs. Our families change size throughout our lives so a house with in-built flexibility is always going to save money.
Waiting for changes in circumstance will either make the renovation costly or require a move which isn’t cost effective or environmentally friendly. Think about future layout changes or where a granny suite could go and work that into your build by running the necessary plumbing and wiring along with framing future door openings. When the day comes that you need to renovate you’ve already done half the work so you’ll have less disruption.
And if you decide not to build an annex for the in-laws you’ve at least added some resale value if you decide to move on.