Building a sustainable or green home is not only environmentally-friendly, but it also future-proofs your living environment and saves you money in the long run. Currently, many homes are considered to be high producers of emissions, churning out energy in vast amounts at a cost to you and the environment. If you're building (or buying) a new home or renovating your current one, consider these tips for sustainability:
1. Choose eco-friendly construction materials
Choosing environmentally-friendly building materials is a two-way street, and you should consider; a) how the materials are harvested and the energy used just for that, and b) whether the materials themselves will promote sustainable energy in your home.
Recycled steel, reclaimed timber, bamboo, earth and straw bales are all environmentally-friendly building materials that are harvested or sourced sustainably and have myriad benefits for your home.
2. Use wool for insulation
Wool is a renewable resource with naturally occurring insulating properties. Being non-toxic, wool is much safer to install than synthetic alternatives. Wool absorbs and releases moisture, is thermoregulating and provides excellent acoustics, making it the ultimate energy-efficient insulation option.
3. Consider using reclaimed wood
Not only does reclaimed wood typically have more character than freshly milled timber, but it is also harder and denser, not to mention extremely durable. Reclaimed wood can be used not only for construction but for indoor and outdoor furniture for your home too. Using this style of wood benefits the environment because you are choosing to re-use materials, thus reducing what ends up in the landfill.
4. Choose your location wisely
There’s no denying location is extremely important when choosing where to build or buy a new home. A north facing home should get all-day sun and natural warmth, meaning you’ll have less use for energy-sapping heaters and dryers. Windows and skylights throughout your home allow natural light in, meaning you’ll use less power. Consider where the location of the house is in comparison to your place of work or school – will you need to travel by car every time you go anywhere? Are their grocery stores nearby or public transport? Cutting down on car usage is a fantastic way to decrease your carbon footprint.
5. Think small!
Tiny homes have become more and more popular – and accessible – over the last few years. Whether you're building or buying, consider the amount of space you need. The smaller our homes are, the less energy we use – in building and day-to-day living. Smaller homes are easier to heat, and you're less likely to accumulate unnecessary ‘stuff' that might later end up in the landfill.
6. Use rainwater – and conserve it
If you’re building a home, consider installing a rainwater harvesting system. This works by collecting rainwater from your roof and storing it in a tank – or tanks – until you need it. If your property is not connected to a mains water supply, rainwater harvesting might be your only viable way to run water in your house. Even if you are connected to the mains supply, using harvested rainwater can be an efficient way to water your garden, flush your toilet and do your laundry.
7. Choose energy efficient products
Almost all new white ware appliances, heat pumps, televisions and computer monitors available for sale, come with an Energy Rating Label featuring a star rating. This rating describes how energy-efficient the product is – the more stars, the more energy efficient it is. Many top model appliances will have four or five stars and will be cheaper to run. Older models may have lower ratings or not be rated at all. High-rated appliances are not only more economical, they also contribute to a more environmentally-friendly home.
8. Install solar panels
Solar panels harness the natural power of the sun, making them a clean and renewable source of energy. While solar panels may be costly to install, the economic savings you'll make long-term are just one of the many benefits of using this type of power. Before installing solar panels it's important to consider the position of your house and the surrounding environment, but if it's a viable option for you and your home, it’s a great way to make use of a natural, renewable power source.
There are so many factors to consider when buying or building your home, and sustainability should always be one of them. By making a few small changes to the way you live and build, you can breathe easy knowing you’ve future-proofed your home and environment for generations to come.