There is a preconceived notion that eco-homes must be built from the ground up, much like the HouseZero project. While it may be convenient, adapting a more sustainable lifestyle can be achieved within a standard home. In fact, it is oftentimes cost-efficient, as working by piecemeal allows homeowners to budget. But where do you start?
Knowing how your home functions is a great starting point. Assess how much energy you consume in a month. This can be as easy as consulting an online calculator or even your electricity bill. Who knows? The numbers may be enough to motivate you. But before diving headfirst into solar panel catalogues, figure out the essentials.
Make small changes. Replace your lightbulbs. Old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs may be cheap and charming, but they are by no means long-lasting. LED lightbulbs are a great alternative, as they are less wasteful and last 35 times longer. Move things around — and not just for Feng Shui’s sake. Placing your refrigerator in a shaded area is actually more energy-efficient, as it works harder to keep cool under the sun. Go for organic sheets and wool blankets, as producing them doesn’t require insecticide.
Establishing new habits will prepare you for real deal remodeling. It’s time to repurpose and replace. Determine the best time for serious refurbishing. If most things are still perfectly functional, give your extreme makeover some time. Going green may seem like the perfect opportunity to splurge on furniture, but choosing to upcycle or trade them in is a lot more economical. Use eco-paint on your walls. These are free of damaging volatile organic compounds. Replace timber flooring with bamboo, as they give off zero emissions and are quickly replenished.
It may not seem so, but bathrooms are easily the most environmentally damaging spaces in a household. Install new utilities. Specifically, go for low-flow toilets and shower heads. Flushing accounts for some 30% of total indoor water use. While purchasing a new bathroom necessities may cost you a buck, low-flow technology can save 160,000 liters of water a year. If you’re a tub junkie like I am, use your bath sparingly.
It’s also important to seek locally sourced materials and tradesmen. Sure, you have entire freedom to be on the lookout for the best of the best. However, going local is not only economically beneficial, but saves on transportation costs. Plus, it’s likely things will be underway a lot quicker.
Like any renovation procedure, it’s best to consult with other builders. Unless you are skilled by any practical means, you’ll probably need all the help you can get. If this is the case, make sure your builders recycle and reduce waste. Guarantee that whatever materials you are discarding don’t end up in a landfill. Many construction groups are open to organizing proper disposal procedures.
Most importantly, monitor your habits as a consumer. You could build a perfectly eco-friendly home, but forget to be prudent with your energy consumption. Solar panels don’t necessarily give you license to remain plugged-in 24/7. Home may be the best place to relax, but it’s also where we should learn to be mindful. After all, how green you are in public should be how green you are behind closed doors.