Turn your home ‘green’ with these 10 eco-friendly must-haves
While the drive to eliminate plastic straws and single-use plastics was an eye-opener in the push to adopt more sustainable and green lifestyles, for South African homeowners the need to adapt to the persisting electricity and water crises are likely to be a major boost for green home features.
Solar will not only save on electricity costs and power your hot water needs, but can power your home during power outages when properties and neighbourhoods become vulnerable.
Globally, the drive to more sustainable living has gained significant movement over the last year with the likes of 17-year old Greta Thunberg who was Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2019 and has been nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize (a second time that she’s nominated for the prize).
Locally too, greening is gaining momentum, especially in and around homes. If you have not yet considered introducing green features into your home, then now is the time to start. Green features are not just a good investment but given the realities of the electricity and water crises, buyers are now likely to be swayed by these additions.
Turning the housing sector green is just one of the pillars of government’s green economic strategy. Already, most new developments boast greening elements. Beyond just taking measures to reduce your carbon footprint and impact on the environment, the move to greening homes is a vital economic boost.
What should households be doing?
1. By now, all homes should be focusing on water-saving and cutting back on electricity usage. Basics such as installing energy-efficient lights, turning off lights and appliances when not in use and adjusting your geyser and fridge temperatures can make a broader difference.
2. There should also now be a focus on energy-efficient appliances and don’t forget to focus on water-consumption when choosing a washing machine. Aside from the hygienic benefits, a dishwasher also uses less water than hand washing.
3. Green features such as solar panels, rainwater tanks, double glazing, well-points and boreholes are now becoming important features for any home.
4. Solar heating (if you don’t already have that) will not only save on electricity costs and power your hot water needs, but can power your home including the security system and vital during power outages when homes and neighbourhoods become vulnerable.
5. At the very least, an inverter system is a worthwhile investment as it can power your security system, internet and television and ensure that you can still charge your phone. These can be integrated with your current electricity system for a seamless switch-over during an outage, ensuring continued power for vital lights, appliances and so on.
6. To ensure you are not left in total darkness, consider rechargeable LED light fittings or those which can be plugged in at various spots around the home. They charge when the electricity is on and will then come on automatically when the power is out.
7. It goes without saying that gas-powered cooking appliances are now almost a necessity, while indoor braais and wood-burning fireplaces will be highly sought-after when winter sets in.
8. Another must-have is a rainwater storage tank and grey-water system to provide for garden and outdoor water needs while a more sophisticated system for indoor non-potable needs such as toilets will certainly add further value. A water purification system in the home will also likely become a future need.
9. Water-wise gardens are another important aspect of green homes. By focusing on indigenous plants, you can reduce the water consumption and ensure that your garden looks good even during drier seasons. Be sure to make use of a controlled sprinkler system as it uses less water compared to a hosepipe.
10. Recycling and waste reduction are further areas to focus on. Properties with large gardens could incorporate a compost system for fruit, vegetable and other suitable waste. Additionally, all homes should by now be adopting recycling as most neighbourhoods have some kind of recycling initiative.