Environmental awareness is at an all-time high. Scholars, experts, politicians and the general public alike are debating how human actions impact our environment. Through researches and studies, scientists are trying to figure out the impact in concrete numbers. Many people are stepping up to find ways by which they can lower their environmental footprint.
Going green at home is often one of the first steps to a sustainable lifestyle. The conscious citizens of the world have started finding ways to reduce waste and to conserve resources at home. In our attempt to decrease our footprint, we have started making small changes like turning off the faucet a few seconds faster or choosing not to use a light whenever possible. These small changes in daily choices may seem overwhelming for some, but with time and patience, they work together to simplify our lives and protect our resources and environment.
Let’s see some of the options available for us to improve the quality of our home, reduce energy costs and have a decreased environmental impact.
- Replace Incandescent Bulbs with LEDs: The easiest and the simplest step across all homes – new or old will be to replace the traditional incandescent bulbs with CFLs or better still LEDs. These last much longer and consume 60-80 percent less energy. They no doubt cost more than the traditional bulbs, but their cost is justified by the energy saving that they do and the duration for which they last. Consider this as a basic step for a greener home.
- Go Solar: The sun is the ultimate source of clean and low-cost energy and Sun and earth are destined to exist together.
Plan to have solar panels installed in your home to take care of your energy requirements. You can use this solar power, which is very cheap to heat water in your bathroom geysers, to meet your lighting requirements etc. By adopting the solar power technology in your home, you can take advantage of getting efficient and clean energy. So, you are keeping your carbon footprints lower and at the same time you also get grants, tax breaks and other government incentives related to the use of solar power in your home.
- Cool Your Roof: Roof absorbs maximum sunlight. If you use a material that can reflect sun’s energy away from the roof, it cools faster at night and holds less heat for less time. Then you can make a dramatic difference in your home’s energy efficiency. Using products like slate, white tiles, special membranes, terra cotta etc. can reduce energy costs and usage related to heat. The green roofing options are generally more expensive, but you will benefit through minimal maintenance required, energy savings, and the longevity of the product.
- Rainwater Harvesting: This is now mandatory in many countries. This helps in directing the rainwater to recharge the underground water table instead of it going into the storm sewer drains. A new twist now here is constructing living roofs to hold plants that grow on the roof to catch and filter rainwater and also insulate the home. Right now, the concept is applied to commercial buildings, but this can certainly be incorporated into residential roofs.
- VOC Paints: Using low VOC paint for both interiors and exterior surfaces go a long way in designing eco-friendly homes. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. If you use high VOC paints then these hazardous carbon-based chemicals will evaporate inside your home. If they evaporate from interior paints they cause harmful effects on the health of inhabitants and when they evaporate outside, they contribute to pollution.
- Go Local: Instead of getting materials from far-fetched areas, design your home using locally-sourced materials. This refers to anything like wood or flooring. Getting them from local market eliminates extra shipping and trucking of materials, which unnecessarily adds pollutants to the air and also makes things costlier for you. Respect the rule of nature. It produces exactly the thing that is required in the area, which is the easiest to adapt to that surrounding.
- “Energize” Your Windows: This is a relatively newer concept and is making waves. These windows have become a rock star in a short span of time. Energy Star windows greatly reduce sound transfer between outside and inside. The result is that the heating and cooling costs drop and home values rise. These windows are much more efficient than the newer, double-pane models.
An in-thing these days is to get the green home certification. The most popular certification program is LEED. It measures new homes in various categories like energy utilisation, water efficiency, materials used in construction, resources etc. Based on all these factors, your home is rated and for a particular score you get a green home certification. This not only gives the owner a sense of pride, but also increases the home’s value.