Everyone's jumping on the sustainability bandwagon and striving to live more eco-friendly lifestyles. What is often forgotten is the financial benefits saving energy may have beyond the benefit of being kind to the environment. It is definitely a win-win situation for all if you choose to make your home more energy efficient.
Household energy use in South Africa constitutes about 17% of the entire country's consumption, including industry and transportation. Although energy efficiency cannot solely be the responsibility of individuals, you can definitely make a difference to your own wallet by making your own home more energy efficient. Here are a few practical ways to do so. Only implementing a few of these tips will already make a big difference.
Also, don't forget to take a look at the wide range of homify professionals who offer sustainable and eco-design solutions.
Windows are one of the biggest sources of energy loss in any home. If you are willing to put in a bit of revamping effort into your home's windows, you can certainly safe a lot of energy and prevent its loss.
The first thing to look at is what type of frames are used for your windows. Aluminium frames are often the culprit when it comes to heat loss, since it transmits heat very easily and allows energy to escape effortlessly. Rather look at replacing your window frames with a material like vinyl, which is much more resistant to heat transfer.
Other great tips for energy efficiency when it comes to windows that will not require as much effort, are tinting your windows to keep heat or cold in, or to just leave your curtains open to bring in plenty of natural light and save on lighting costs. Whichever option you choose, windows are a great starting point to increase your home's energy efficiency.
The best option when it comes to saving energy with appliances is to replace the old with new. Older appliances are high on energy consumption and can be more so when it becomes faulty. Most new household appliances available today are much more energy efficient, but it is always better to do your research. A great way to be sure that an appliance will be energy efficient is to look out for Energy Star certification. This is a good hallmark for energy efficiency.
When it comes to heating your home, rather go for appliance such as a wood burning fireplace (pictured) than other types of heaters and heating products that use electricity. Most of these are very expensive when it comes to the power bill.
The days are gone where household furnishings and fixtures are chosen for only a single purpose, whether it be functional or decorative. The type of window treatment you use will have a great impact on energy consumption in your home, and will direct the flow of heat in and out of your home.
Interior window blinds with slats (either vertical or horizontal) is more effective at reducing heat gain than preventing heat loss. Using this product in conjunction with other energy efficient solutions for heat loss can make your home energy efficient all year round. Remember, though, that any window treatment will be ineffective in influencing air leakage or infiltration, and for this you will need a weatherstrip or caulk around the outside of the window.
We have heard before that replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL's) can save much energy. The question on many people's minds is often 'how big of a difference can a light bulb really make?' Well, the answer is a bigger difference than you could imagine. Fluorescent bulbs can last 10 times as long as incandescent ones, and will use about 75% less energy! I think we can all agree that this is a more than significant difference.
To take things a step even further, go for light-emitting diodes (LED's). This ingenious little guys will last 3-5 times as long as the already super-efficient CFL's, and is conveniently mercury-free.
It has long been the refrain of the sustainable energy use movement to turn off all appliances that are not in use. There is a reason for this repetition, though, since enormous amounts of energy are wasted by leaving appliances on unnecessarily. Appliances on standby still use energy and it will be better to turn these off completely when not in use.
Best practice when it comes to appliances also includes familiarising yourself with the operator's manual of all your appliances to use it most effectively and prevent unnecessary energy waste. Wait until you have a full load of dishes or washing before using the dishwasher or washing machine, this will save the amount of times the appliance is used to save energy.
It is no secret that taking a shower uses much less water than taking a bath. That is, if the showers are kept short! Taking shorter showers will have a doubly positive impact on your bank account: it will cut the water bill and save energy for heating the water up. The green guideline for taking a shower is about 4 minutes – just about enough time to get everything done on a standard day.
You should also spend some time investigating the installation of a low-flow shower head. Such a fixture uses less than a third of a conventional shower head, and will definitely be worth it in the end. Spending a little less time in the bathroom could be just what you need to get the funds to renovate it.
It is a well-known fact that insulation is essential in saving energy in any home. Insulation in ceilings, walls and attic keeps the heat in during cold times and traps cool air in the summer, so reducing temperature regulation costs significantly.
Insulation comes in all shapes and sizes, and installing ceiling or wall insulation is not the only solution. Using rugs is a great method of floor insulation, for example. Often our budget limits us when it comes to renovating an entire floor with solid floor or floorboard insulation, but by placing a simple yet strategic rug can go a long way. It will certainly make your feet feel warmer and also block off draughts.
For more tips on how to turn your house into a hub of energy efficiency, check out: 8 Tips For Your Energy Efficient House.