Building Your Dream Eco-Friendly Home: Lean and Green Living, Made Easy

It pays to build your dream eco-friendly home, but it’s not as hard as you think it will be. Learn how lean and green living in an eco-friendly home can be an easy and sustainable investment in the long run.

Table of Contents

  • Part 1. The Need for Green Living
  • Part 2. Turning and Building Your Home to Eco-Friendly Haven
  • Part 3. The DO-IT-YOURSELF DIY Checklist for Home Owners
  • Part 4. Green Living Inventions That You Can Try
  • Part 5. Further Reading

The Need for Green Living

There is no better time to go green than now.

We live in a devastated planet – an injured planet that is continued to be beaten. Who else should be blamed but its most “intelligent” inhabitants? Our ill practices have destroyed our one and only Earth.

Most of the destructions that we caused are made as we attempt to make life easier. The manufacture of vehicles and of our electronic devices, as well as the powering up our homes and places of work, the dirty picture behind the “comfortable” living that we enjoy right now is the felon that is still at large.

The International Energy Agency, in its 2015 Key World Energy Statistics provided that the world’s primary sources of energy are:

  1. Oil – 31.1%
  2. Coal – 28.9%
  3. Natural Gas – 21.4%
  4. Biofuels and waste – 10.2%
  5. Nuclear – 4.8%
  6. Hydro – 2.4%
  7. Geothermal, Solar, wind, heat, and others – 1.2%

Coincidentally, the Carbon Dioxide emission caused by our sources of energy are as follows:

  1. Coal – 46%
  2. Oil – 33.6%
  3. Natural Gas – 19.8%
  4. All others – 0.6%

And how is this related to us? Our total energy consumption per fuel is:

  1. Oil – 39.9%
  2. Electricity – 18.0%
  3. Natural Gas – 15.1%
  4. Biofuels and waster – 12.2%
  5. Coal – 11.5%
  6. All others – 3.3%

And for each of these sources, those that are consumed for residential, commercial, agricultural and public service purposes as against industrial and other uses are:

  1. Electricity – 56.28%
  2. Natural Gas – 44.8%
  3. Coal – 14.78%
  4. Oil – 11.68%

As you can see, a considerable amount of energy is directly used by us in our homes, workplace, malls, and other places that we go to. We didn’t even consider the energy consumed by the factories that produce the intricacies of modern living. We’ll have to start from where we as regular inhabitants of this planet can start. We’ll leave the governmental bodies of the world to deal with how to manage emissions, and how to go green on an industrial level.

Let’s focus on how we can live green in our homes so we can do our fair share in salvaging what we can of our planet to prevent it from further damages, and to help it recover. Let’s focus on how we can turn our homes green, so we can make our only home planet green as well.

Turning Your Home into an Eco-Friendly Haven

There are lots of things we can do for our homes to help make it green. Being green used to mean using the lowest amount of energy such that we will not so much contribute to the statistics. Now, there are a number of things that we can do to make our homes green.

The Art of Minimalistic Living

Minimalistic living is something that we all should practice. Going green by living minimalistic is rooted in the traditional meaning of going green. True enough, the less you have at home, the less energy you would most likely consume. Going minimalistic does not mean that you’d have to live like cavemen. Going minimalistic means having only what you need. But it doesn’t also mean that you cannot live a modern life. You can have gadgets too, but just one is enough.

Put your television in your living room so everyone can watch. Have an air-conditioning system that can cool down the whole house. Say no to that fancy chandelier. Have one family car and try taking a bus from time to time. There are lots of things you can do in a not-so-extravagant manner. Not only will you be able to save money, but you can also do your part in lessening consumption of energy. All of us seem to be intimidated by the demands of the modern world – buying devices as soon as they come out even if we have well-functioning ones, shelling out lots of money just to be able to catch up.

Minimalistic living tells us that we do not need all these things to live. We can live simpler even if we are in modern times. We can be smart, we can be green, we can be minimalistic!

Energy Saving Tips

Reducing your energy consumption is already a great help in reducing the total consumption that we have right now. If we do it all together, we can make a real change on the way things are. The following are some tips that we can share so you can save energy, and in turn, do your part in lessening household energy consumption.

Unplug your appliances after using.

Even when you turn off your appliances, electricity is still consumed unless you unplug them. Appliances are just placed in standby mode when you turn them off without unplugging.

Buy appliances that have a good energy rating.

From refrigerators to washing machines, and air conditioners to heaters, choose those that have good energy rating: the more stars, the more savings. Not only will you be able to cut on electricity bills, but you can also help lessen energy consumption. If you want to compute your energy consumption and running costs, you can use the Energy Rating Calculator.

Insulate your roof and ceiling so you would not have to worry so much about heating and cooling your home.

Insulation helps your home to stay comfortably warm or cool, depending on what you need. A well-insulated home will stay cooler on a sunny day, and warmer on cold ones as compared to those homes that are left uninsulated. Also, try to turn on your HVAC systems early instead of waiting for it to get too hot or too cold. Keep your home comfortably warm or cool at all times so you won’t have to put your systems on turbo settings.

Don’t install too many lights than needed.

A well-lit home is great, add more and it’s hot. Don’t have more light than needed. Dimmable lights work great so you can adjust as to the needed lighting. Lessen electric consumption by only lighting as needed. Use green power.

Green power is not as expensive as it used to be. Solar power, for example, is going very popular everywhere. Try green energy sources so your home can go truly green.

Sustainable Home Engineering

Some people went the extra mile and built buildings that are designed to be green. Thanks to sustainable engineering, structures are now starting to become truly green. Green buildings are those whose structure or processes are environmentally-friendly. Homes are also turning truly green thanks to sustainable home engineering.

Sustainable home engineering focuses providing a home that is efficient in material, energy, and water, without compromising the quality of living. In order to achieve this, your home will be designed to tap green power, and full of energy-efficient electronics.

In the United States, a truly green home or building must pass the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the US Green Building Council, or meet the Model Green Home Building Guidelines by the National Association of Home Builders.

In Australia, the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) is the authorized body in rating sustainable buildings and communities. They operate Australia’s only national, voluntary, holistic rating called Green Star.

According to GBCA’s The Value of Green Star: A decade of environmental benefits (2013), on average, Green Star-certified buildings:

  • Use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings
  • Produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings
  • Use 51% less potable water than average buildings
  • Recycle 96% of their waste, compared with 58% for the average new construction project.

Going green with your dream eco-friendly home will guarantee you a healthier home, a smart investment, reduced carbon footprint, and even market recognition!

Adding Greens to your Home

What is a green home without greens, right? But more than that, adding greens to your home will help you save energy. Vines and shrubs can help insulate your home. Carefully grow them against your home’s wall. Indoor plants can provide moisture that can make your house cooler on a sunny day, and warmer when winter comes. Indoor plants also make good air filters so you would not have to buy artificial ones. But if you would like to go a step further, you can try planting vegetables in your backyard – add the other benefits of plants to an undeniably healthy meal that you can get! Truly, a green home is nothing without greens!

DIY Checklist for Homeowners

You cannot turn your home green overnight. Moreover, a green home is nothing if you do not change your habits in using energy-consuming devices. That is why it is essential to have a checklist that would serve as a reminder of the things that you should do in order to keep your house green. At most, your checklist will maintain your house to be efficient in material, energy, and water, as a truly green home should be. It is a DIY audit of your home so you can personally check whether or not your home is green or not.

Your checklist will contain but is not limited to the following:

Energy Efficiency

Are you switching off the lights when not needed? Do you unplug your appliances when not in use? Are you using energy efficient appliances? Do you tap green power?

Water Efficiency

Have you inspected pipes for leaks and have them repaired when necessary? Do you have a water-efficient dishwasher or washing machine? Do you provide a way to reuse water, or catch rainwater?

 

Some of these questions are usually shrugged off. But keep in mind that ensuring that these are done will help keep your house green. If we all keep our homes green, the Earth will definitely be better.

Green Inventions That You Can Try

Over time, we can feel the effects of the damages that we caused on our planet. With that, we try our best to stop and reverse these damages. In an attempt to make the world a better place to live in, great minds come up with great green inventions from time to time. Some of these are the following that you can try:

Aquaponics Systems

Living green doesn’t have to stop at just growing veggies in your backyard; now, you can also grow fish in your backyard through an aquaponic system! Aside from growing your favorite greens, you can now grow your own Barramundi, Silver Perch, Marron, Yabbies and more! Vegetables grown in an aquaponic system are nourished by the water from the fish tank. Instead of using a traditional filter, a special filter is installed in the vegetable bed, allowing the filter to feed the vegetables while filtering the water. Afterward, the filtered clean water is returned to the fish tank.

Adapting an aquaponic system means no more weeds to pull out, no more soil pests (so it’s entirely safe to have inside your house!), no more chemicals, and no more watering! Everything is almost set to automatic; you only have to maintain upkeep like temperature, pH and ammonia levels, and more.

Solar Powered Homes

Australia has a rich diversity of renewable energy resources. Although the biggest contributor for energy resource is coal, it is expected that renewables will contribute a lot to Australia’s energy supply by 2035. In fact, Australia has seen innovations in harnessing solar power into an energy resource through different kinds of solar systems, especially solar shingles.

Gone were the days of big plates of solar panels attached to roofs; now, harness the power of the sun with solar shingles! These are actual roof tiles to be used on your roofing, and not something just plonked on your roofing. Unlike solar panels, this minimizes wind pressure and debris on your system; an unclean solar panel cannot convert energy from the sun efficiently.

SkyCool Heat Reflective Paint

Not all green innovations are based on our planet’s natural flora. Introducing Australia’s very own heat reflective paint! SkyCool is another way to cut your energy consumption, helping you to go green! Australia is known for its unbearable summer temperature, meaning people are entirely dependent on their air conditioning. Air conditioning units consume more electricity and releases harmful hydrofluorocarbons that contribute to global warming. With SkyCool’s heat reflective paint, the heat from the sun is reflected; not absorbed by a building, leading to less electricity consumption.

Bakey’s Edible Cutlery

Do you usually have visitors coming over for lunch, dinner, or just to chill? Have you been hoarding plastic spoons in your kitchen drawer? Change the way you let your visitors eat over at your house with Bakey’s edible cutlery!

These spoons can be eaten or can be used as a compost for your plants if you choose not to eat it. It’s made form organic materials similar to bread. This is a better alternative to plastic spoons as creating these edible cutlery consumes leaves less carbon footprint. It’s easy to use, doesn’t affect the taste of the food, and you can store the remaining spoons in a dry container for 24 months after the manufacturing date.

Solar Bottle Bulb

A Brazilian man by the name of Alfredo Moser invented a light bulb out of just a two-liter plastic bottle that he filled with water and bleach. This works by letting the water refract the sunlight (the bleach is added to maintain the transparency of the bottle). You will just have to drill a home on the roof and secure the bottle there. This will help light up a dark room during the day.

Air-Purifying Wall

We mentioned above how indoor plants can act as natural air purifiers. AgroSci went further and made a wall of plants that can purify the air in your homes at a magnified level. They claim that the air-purifying wall has the air cleaning capacity of 60,000 house plants!

Bio Rubbish Bags

A study revealed that Australians used an estimated 3.92 billion plastic bags in 2005. Whether it significantly increased or decreased over the years since that fact has been discovered, it’s still billions of plastic used and disposed of in a year. That’s why various manufacturers have created biodegradable plastic made from plant starch. These rubbish bags start to decompose six months post manufactured date.

PaperlessKitchen SKOY Cloth

In 2007-2008, Clean Up Australia reported that we used 4,250,000 tonnes of paper and of that we sent 1.9 million tonnes straight to landfill. That’s a lot of paper! If we were to recycle paper, we can save 13-24 trees, 31,780 litres of water, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 27 kilograms of air pollutants.

Paper towels are materials that cannot be recycled; thus it contributes greatly to the paper waste in Australia. With PaperlessKitchen’s SKOY Cloth, you can now say goodbye to paper towels! SKOY is the best alternative to paper towels as it is absorbent, durable, and reusable. One cloth can take over 15 rolls of paper towels any day.

Further Readings

Need for Green Living:

Minimalistic:

Energy Readings and Saving Tips:

Sustainable Home Engineering:

Adding greens:

Checklist:

Inventions:

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