There’s no denying that the world is changing. Take a look at today’s headlines and you will probably read about some weather-related natural disaster – the Western Cape’s drought is a prime example. These disasters serve as an important reminder that it’s vital that we all play a part in looking after the environment. Fortunately, these days, going green is easier and cheaper than it’s ever been before. What’s more, not only is going green good for the environment, it can also help you to save money, reduce your reliance on municipal water and make your home a better place to live in.
If you’re looking to green your home, there are simple and relatively effective ways of doing so. While it may not be possible to make drastic changes immediately, remember that it also helps to start small. At this stage, if everyone started implementing one or two green measures, it would make a huge difference overall. Here are a few steps you can take to make your home greener.
We often take energy for granted by leaving lights on and using bulbs and appliances that use more electricity than necessary. Start by being mindful of switching the lights off when you leave a room and unplugging appliances when they’re not in use. If you struggle to remember to do this, installing light sensors is a great option. This will ensure that the lights turn off automatically when there’s no one in the room. The next step would be to replace your conventional light bulbs and appliances with energy-efficient alternatives. Energy-efficient light bulbs use a fraction of the electricity of normal bulbs and last longer too.
Installing solar panels is undoubtedly the best way to get your conventional energy usage down. The great thing about this is that your electricity bills will decrease while you reduce your carbon footprint and increase the value of your house. While the outlay for solar panels is expensive, it’s important to see the bigger picture: it’s not only better for the environment, it will also save you a lot of money in the long run.
Although it makes financial sense in the long term, implementing a fully fledged solar powered system in your house is incredibly expensive and not something everyone can afford. You can start your solar power journey by installing a solar water heater. This is an affordable start to using solar energy and can still lead to environmental benefits and incredible savings.
The recent drought in South Africa should have made you aware that water as a natural resource is much scarcer than we had ever imagined. The first thing you can do to help combat the problem is to install water tanks. Once they have filled up with rainwater, you can either get them hooked up to your home’s water supply (only possible if you own the property) or simply go the more cost-effective route of using buckets to flush your toilets or fill a camp shower.
Another way of cutting down on potable water is to install a wellpoint or borehole. These are variations of the same concept, namely making use of groundwater, which is non-potable, to water the garden or flush your toilets. While boreholes and wellpoints are a ‘good to have’, groundwater must still be used sparingly, and boreholes need to be registered (if you live in the Western Cape, you can find out how to do that here). For most people the deciding factor will be the price as this water-saving solution is very costly at first.
For the plant lovers out there, this one might be a bit difficult. We hate to say it, but going green also means making sure your garden isn’t filled with thirsty trees and plants that need to be watered often (even if you have a borehole) or that absorb a huge amount of water when it rains. Invasive species can be a big drain on the water table, and it would be wise to replace these plants with plants that can flourish even with little water.
Filling up your pool takes an immense amount of water, and evaporation is the primary reason for water loss. The best and easiest fix? Cover your pool. This can slow down the evaporation process enormously, which is why it’s kinder to the environment. Covering your pool has other benefits too. For example, it retains heat (this means you save on energy from heating equipment) and helps to keep the pool cleaner, making your life as a homeowner with a pool infinitely easier and your efforts greener.
Fixing any leaks you have around the house could save thousands of litres of water over the long term, not to mention a whole lot of money. It’s vital that water is not wasted in any way, and this is certainly a good place to start. If your water bill or usage seems higher than normal, check to see if any of your taps, geyser overflow pipes or shower heads are leaking. If they are, get them fixed as soon as possible. If it’s easy enough, you can do it yourself, or you can employ the services of a professional.
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