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Green Homes: How to Make Your House More Energy-Efficient

July 27, 2021

As more governments and global conglomerates move towards environmentally friendly practices, it becomes all the more important for us to take action as individuals. It’s awful to see the impact of lowered temperatures on ecosystems and how our own trash can overwhelm landfills. And while this might not personally impact all of us, all of us can certainly impact this. 

It doesn’t take much to incorporate eco-friendly habits into our daily lives and what’s also great about it is that we can save some cash at the same time. We love this list because it’s simple and achievable, and will quickly become second nature if we give it a try. 

Shall we create some change? Here’s a list of areas we’ll cover:

Electricity: Maximise Efficiency, Minimise Use

Lighting | Outlets | Solar Panels

Be Mindful When You Shop 

Food | Plastics | Personal Care | Recycling

Outfitting Your Home Sustainably

Furniture | Energy Efficient Appliances | Rainwater | Building Materials 

Electricity: Maximise Efficiency, Minimise Use

One of the biggest ways we can make change is by reducing the amount of electricity we use. The more electricity we generate, the more fuel we burn and the more greenhouse gases are released into the air. Simple things like turning off lights and appliances when we leave a room or the house go a long way. And you can save on your bills simultaneously. Here are a few more things we can do:

Lighting

Have a look at your lightbulbs. What kind are they? Standard incandescent bulbs take up much more electricity than energy-efficient globes like LEDs, and compact fluorescent lights last only a fraction of the time. There are tons of options online to suit every preference and room. We love the look of a warm, yellow light to give the room a nice ambience. 

Outlets

The term is called phantom load. It’s what happens when you leave plugs turned on even when you’re not using the appliances. Items like chargers, microwaves and home entertainment units which have an instant-on feature are the culprits. By keeping an eye on these, you can avoid adding around an extra 35% to your annual electricity bill.

Solar Panels

It may seem like a big move for some, but it is totally worth it in the long run. 1 in 5 Aussie houses are currently outfitted with solar panels. They can appear like a hefty investment at first, with an average of $5,000 for a set, but they save on your electricity bill and can even add value to your home. Most importantly, you’re harnessing the goodness of mother nature! 

Before you decide to make the purchase however, do consider a few factors that impact the efficiency of the panels. Location for one, is paramount—if there’s too much shading on your street, it might be kind of useless to get them installed. The goal is to maximise on sun exposure. Equally, the orientation of your home is important, which is ideally north or northwest. Do your research on suppliers and make sure they’re government-validated

Be Mindful When You Shop 

This can be one of the harder steps because not only are we creatures of habit, but we shop so regularly and for so many different types of products. A great practice is simply to read labels, find a preferred brand and stick to it. Since there’s more demand for eco-friendly products, we’re not short of fantastic products to give us love from head to toe. 

Food 

It’s no secret that high meat consumption can be detrimental to the environment. Just avoiding red meat alone a few times a week can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. If the craving is insatiable, maybe test out a few meat-alternatives out there! 

Additionally, source your food locally and work with the seasons. 

Plastics 

Fortunately, the Australian government passed a law in 2020 that banned the exportation of plastics. The act has the goal of making 100% of plastics recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. So what can we do? Reduce our consumption. Those produce-section plastic baggies come in handy when we’re gathering our fruits and vegetables but need to be used a lot less. Try and group your produce loosely and repack everything into reusable bags when you get home. 

Similarly, when doing takeaway coffee or big food orders, say no to the plastic. Always remember to bring along your personal coffee cup and tote bag. 

Personal Care

This is where checking labels should be routine. Many cleaning agents are harmful to manufacture and to dispose of and can even affect our nervous system. Favour products that are free of sulphates, dyes, ammonia and chlorine, among others. Don’t worry, natural and organic cleaners are just as effective as traditional cleaners. 

Most eco-inclined brands will tout their clean, safe practices on the bottles so they’re easily spotted. Read beyond the formulations to ensure the bottle is recyclable and/or made out of biodegradable materials. 

Recycling

We can’t stress this enough. While most of us are savvy about our curbside recycling, there are a couple common mistakes we come across. 

Do:

  • See where the closest recycling point to you is located. This is where you can bring soft plastics leftover from chips and bread bags. 
  • Scrunch up the items you’re recycling and make them as compact as possible. 
  • Separate the covers and lids from jars and containers before throwing them into the recycling bin. This way, they’re easily broken down by the machines.

Don’t:

  • Put broken glass or mirrors into the recycling bin. These can go in the normal bin. 
  • Chuck plastic bags in the recycling bin. If you want to recycle them, check out your closest recycling point.
  • Lease residue in the items you’re recycling. Try and clean out containers as much as possible. 

Outfitting Your Home Sustainably

While the steps you’ll soon read are a little more time-consuming, they’re absolutely worthwhile. From the design of your home to adding appliances, there are ample opportunities to lighten your environmental footprint. 

Furniture 

We all need it. But instead of getting something new, ask yourself if you might find a secondhand item piece that suits your needs. There are so many resources out there to find preloved furniture according to your style. If you need something new? Opt for a local, sustainable brand. Lots of them are wonderfully innovative, and employ the power of regenerative and recyclable materials that stay in great shape over the years.  

Energy Efficient Appliances

How energy efficient is the technology in your home? Start with one of the biggest energy-suckers—your washer-dryer. Look for the energy efficiency rating and ensure it’s 4 and above. While you’re at it, note that washing in cold water is much more friendly to the environment and your wallet! 

Follow the same guidelines for other appliances like your dishwasher. 

Rainwater 

Installing rainwater tanks is one of the best ways to make your home more environmentally-friendly. You can fit one to your home and begin collecting at a low cost. The water can be used for washing your fruits and veggies and watering your plants. A more advanced rainwater harvesting system can divide your water into its different uses in the home and even store the rainwater during months of drought. 

Building Materials 

It is not only useful but fascinating to learn the lifecycle of some materials we involve in our daily lives. For instance, wood may seem like a natural material and both sustainable and good-looking. However, with deforestation and unregulated logging practices in many areas around the world, it still causes damage to the environment. Having said that, it’s certainly favoured by the eco-inclined as its footprint is significantly smaller than other materials like steel or concrete. Make an effort to source your wood from sustainably managed forests. 

Try and use existing materials from demolition sites, and to use materials that have a long lifespan. If you’re looking to work with an architect and/or interior designer, there are many creative individuals out there who are specialised in green building. 

Without sounding too corny, we’d like to tell you that every step you take counts. As we change, add to, or take away from our homes, we can do so mindfully. The action of buying and using is the same, but can we make that little impactful adjustment at the same time? 

By using this guide, we can hopefully create thoughtful, energy-efficient spaces that live in harmony with our environment. We’ve also got a ton more insightful and helpful information to amp up your home interiors. Or if you’re on the lookout for a new home using our search page, make sure to read up on properly inspecting the property before you make a decision.

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