Want to do your little bit for the environment? How about starting with where you live at the moment? Your home, your house, let us make it more sustainable. Wait, what is a sustainable house? A sustainable house means living in a home that is more efficient with regards to the resources such as water, electricity and other forms of energy with minimal impact caused to the environment. What are the personal benefits that one can gain? A sustainable house even promotes a healthier quality of life, less wastage, less maintenance and more reuse. Of course, an obvious question one may ask is if it is difficult to implement these changes. You can relax as some of the ways that will be mentioned in this article are simple and will not cause you anxiety during or after construction of your house. In fact, some of the methods that will be mentioned are cheap to implement and in the long run will help you lower your costs.
So, let us dive into the various ways to make the world a better place, starting with your own house:
Energy – Efficient Appliances
What you can do is replace your electrical appliances and/ or be careful when purchasing appliances in the future. Although appliances may look tiny in size, we never realize the kind of energy consumed by the small devils. They are the real consumers of electricity in your house. You may feel that such an appliance may be very expensive; thus, let us look at the cost with two approaches: the cost of buying it and the cost of operating it. When you install energy efficient appliances in your house, you can dramatically cut on the latter aspect of the cost. A few appliances that tend to consume high amounts of energy are refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, air conditioners, water heaters etc.
Drip Irrigation system
Installing a drip irrigation system will not only help you reduce water wastage, but also significantly lower your electricity consumption (meaning lower costs, yay!)
So how does installing a drip irrigation system really help?
Drip irrigation installation is healthy for the vegetation in your yard – the benefits of this means cooler home (goodbye summers) and cleaner air to breathe. The water system that people usually use is wrong; for instance the pumps that are installed do not distribute the water to the vegetation in effective manner, which leads to evaporation of water. And let us not forget the long electricity bill too. Drip irrigation system serves as a better alternative as it uses gravity to deliver water to the plants. It focuses directly on the roots of the plants, precisely where water must be distributed. This also causes less water usage as less water will be evaporated.
Tank- less Water Heaters
Indeed, water heaters have come into our lives like a blessing, especially during the winters. But, take a minute and think about all the electricity that is wasted? So, should you stop using a water heater altogether? No way. You can always be careful when you buy a new water heater, ensure to check in the product description and try purchasing the one which consumes less electricity to operate.
A better alternative could be to equip your restroom with a tank- less water heater. It does not constantly use electricity, unlike a conventional water heater. Instead, it provides hot water only on demand, as and when you want it. These highly efficient heaters warm up the water for you only when you ask for it.
Non toxic carpets
Did you know that your carpet can release fumes that are not healthy for you and your family members to breathe? We have always thought of carpets as a product that makes your toes comfy and reduces noise. It is interesting to note that carpets can also act as an energy efficient measure which helps you to maintain the air temperature around you – warmer in the winters and cooler in the summers. If you are thinking of new flooring in your apartment, ensure to select non- toxic carpets. This is because the normal carpets emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the latex present in the material of the carpet fibres. It usually takes several weeks for the fumes to leave your home, which means till then your family is inhaling unhealthy air. Such fumes have an adverse impact on the lungs, so why not choose a better option that is available?
Washing Machine Hack
Don’t panic, we are not asking you to wash your clothes with your hand. We are not even asking you to purchase a new one.
It is important to know that approximately 90% of the energy used by the washing machine goes into heating the water. So an easy way out here to be efficient is to skip the heating and wash your clothes in cold water. All you have to do is change the mode or setting of your washing machine to cold water. The advantage of doing so is less carbon dioxide emission and your clothes will be in good condition for a longer time duration (hot water tends to damage the fabric of clothes and will make your brighter clothes appear dull). In case you have a really awful stain or if the cold water setting is not working for you, change the setting to warm water. The emissions will certainly be more than the cold water setting, but still lesser than the hot water setting.
Grey Water System
Now that we are talking about washing machines, we cannot forget grey water system to have a healthy washing machine experience. By installing such a system, you can save up to 50% of your household. So how is such a system lead to a sustainable lifestyle? Grey water systems filter the water that is released by the washing machine and showers in your house. The water can be reused for another chore in the house. Some tasks do not require the need of clean drinking water, so why waste such clean water then? Why not reuse water that will just be flushed out and not used again?
What do we do with organic trash? Dump it and watch it go add on to the landfill waste. We all know the adverse effects of landfill waste that keeps on growing with time. Since the landfills are not aerated, the organic material is deprived of oxygen. This causes the organic material to emit methane into the atmosphere. In reality, methane is much more detrimental than carbon dioxide and causes severe climatic issues.
You will be fascinated to know that experts suggest food waste (in the form of compost) as one of the top ways to reverse the effects of global warming and emission of the greenhouse gases. Compost is easy to make and manage to sustain a healthy lifestyle. It does not even need a huge space, a tiny area in your garden will do the job!
Avoid using the Dryer
If possible, try and avoid using your clothes dryer unnecessarily. It is shameful to use the dryer during summers and when the sun is shining bright outside. Also, it is not a requirement to compulsorily use a dryer after washing your clothes; in fact several people do not even have dryers in their houses. If you own a dryer, you must try and be as responsible as possible. The added benefit of not using a dryer and using say a drying rack is that your clothes will last longer and will be in a better condition.
Curtains and blinds – it is as simple as it sounds
Curtains and blinds definitely help you keep your neighbours away from poking their noses into your business. However, do not underestimate them; they also help in maintaining the temperature in your room. They help keep the hot air out of your room during summers and similarly, they help you keep the cool air out of your room during winters. Despite having windows, air still has manages to get into your room, you can feel like an oven or ice sheet.
So why consider using the air conditioners when you have a more convenient option right in front of you? The simplest way to deal with the weather is upgrading your curtains and blinds. You can use a simple technique to shield you from the weather.
Numerous people keep talking about solar energy – it is because it is actually beneficial and really safe for our environment. You know what the best part is? With solar batteries installed, you can continue to have current supply in your house whether it is night time or there is a power outage (a problem we really suffer from in India). It is not even difficult to install solar batteries – it is a very easy and convenient method to have efficient, economically and environmentally friendly current available. These batteries do not release dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide and further conserve our environment as solar batteries operate with renewable energy.
Yes, we have alternatives to solar batteries such as generators. However, generators are not healthy for our ecology. You will have to refuel them with gasoline so that they continue to operate. Moreover, generators are noisy and can be messy to handle.
Lower your flow:
In order to save water and money, it is essential to have control over the flow of water of various appliances. You may not realize but restrooms are an efficient way to fix the water problem. All it takes is to switch to low flow appliances (such as showerheads, faucets and toilets). Just to offer little clarity, a lower flow does not mean a poor flow by any way. It only means less water wastage and water bills
You may feel that such a change may not create a huge impact, however, if several households follow such a strategy, these small changes will amount to an enormous one. The world needs such tiny changes.
Wow, that was quite some list! Phew! So you see, being a responsible citizen and making your house sustainable is not like carrying a mountain over your head. It is simple and has smart reasons associated with it. Remember that in the short run, you may feel it has increased your costs and is not delivering results. You will need to be patient. The long term benefits far outweigh the short run costs and efforts that you have to take. If anyone has more to gain, it will be you as such changes will impact your entire family positively. To conclude on a positive and hopeful note, let us quote Jane Goodall. “Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other”.
Hope you live sustainably and so does your house.
Why just stop at your home? Make what you drive environment friendly too!
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