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How to Make A Home More Eco-Friendly

Today most of us are spending most of our time living and working at home and there’s a greater need to create living spaces that are comfortable, functional and hygienic

26/10/2021

 

 

 

 

For most South Africans, our quality of life and daily lifestyle have become even more of a priority for many homeowners, especially during and as a result of the pandemic. With so many people spending more time at home and possibly even working from home, it increases the need to design a living space that is both functional and comfortable, as well as hygienically santised.

“Green living is not a new concept, but it has become more than just a nice-to-have as we navigate a world where sustainability and safety must go hand-in-hand,” says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond. “Research shows that energy consumption in the United Kingdom increased by 30% during the lockdown. The situation is similar in South Africa with many families finding that they need to work - and possibly even school children - at home, adjusting to this new normal, one where our homes need to become a multifunctional space, there is no doubt that there will be an increase in demand for energy and in line with this a greater demand for everything energy efficient.”

Added to that, South Africa’s ever-increasing need for energy and rising energy costs combined with the changing regulations to privatise energy supply, are fuelling the demand to push for more sustainable features into a home. “Green building is not restricted to properties at the higher end of the market but the combined efforts of architects, developers and businesses embracing sustainable practices are making green design – both new and renovated – command an increase in asset value. While it does cost significantly more to build an energy-efficient green home, property developers and designers fully expect to recoup any additional costs through increased demand and homeowners will save money in the long run by reducing energy and utility costs.”

 

Coetzee recommends the following six things to consider when buying an energy-efficient home:

 

1. Size and layout

It is a known fact that larger homes require more energy to run, and the costs are higher for utilities such as rates, water and electricity. But layout also affects energy consumption. Popular around the globe, designers are taking cognizance of the demand for open-plan living spaces that allow for a natural circulation of air combined with good ventilation and plenty of natural light, even though these may be more expensive to heat and cool. Before making any decisions, consider your regional climate of where you would like to live and think about your lifestyle when deciding on the energy efficiency of a home.

 

2. Direction

If you want your living areas - such as your lounge and bedrooms - to be warm and light make sure these are north-facing. This will help lower heating costs in winter. One way of cooling a house during our hot summer is to install outdoor awnings, blinds and block-out curtains that will assist in regulating indoor temperatures.

 

3. Insulation

Look at the alternatives you can use to reduce monthly costs for heating and cooling with appropriate insulation. When finding a property that appeals to you, look closely at the insulation or request a home inspection for professional advice. Take a closer look at what every property offers as concerns 'greening' features, but keep in mind that insulating a home view ceiling insulation or double-glazing of windows is not an expensive option if you do want these features. It all depends on how much you have to spend.

 

4. Lighting

South African has taken the stand on power reduction with the introduction of policies that enforce the use of low-voltage lighting to reduce energy consumption around the country. Resulting in 75% less energy usage as incandescent light sources, LED bulbs have a much longer lifespan. Make a list of items you want in a home, keeping an eye out for features such as skylights to allow plenty of natural light into the living spaces and reduce electricity costs.

 

5. Back-up power

It has become a necessity for every home to have backup power supply that will power the home in light of the recent load-shedding debacle and what the future might hold. Being able to power up essential appliances and perhaps ensure you can work from home, requires some kind of backup, whether it is a full-house UPS system or standalone backup generator or inverter.

 

6. Smart technology

Smart homes that run themselves with the touch of a button or pad are considered a solid investment, especially one that is fully fitted with all the available 'smart' options. It's no surprise that one home design trend to emerge from the pandemic is a demand for touchless appliances and a smart home should be able to offer this as an option. With our abundance of sunlight, it pays to make use of solar power that can be used to power a water heater, outdoor lighting and also be linked up the conserve energy for the home.

 

7. Outside areas

Drip and sprinkler automation outdoors is just one of many water-wise installations that are popular for gardens, as are heated pools, solar outdoor lighting and other external features that reduce monthly energy costs. Nowadays it's not just about the garden that offers the most lawn but rather gardens that are designed to be drought-resistant by indigenous plantings. Additionally, those properties with rainwater harvesting options are also a good option.

“What we discovered after the recent global pandemic and its effect on our local population as well as the constant threat of climate change, is that we all understand the pressing need to alter our lifestyles,” says Coetzee. “Advancements in technologies and a greater focus on mindfulness and wellbeing will see green homes become an intrinsic part of a quality lifestyle.”

 

 

 

 

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