Green, eco-friendly homes must be considered the right way to build a home today. With more people having a better green understanding, building an energy-efficient home is something they want to do. Whether building a new green home or making your current home more energy-efficient, doing so is remarkably easy. It is also affordable to reverse your home from being a power-hungry monster to becoming an energy-efficient friend to the planet.
Building an energy-efficient home or making your home greener, there is more than just installing or using green construction methods or using green products. By going green, lessons on protecting the planet are taught to everyone in the family and others. The lessons learned are valuable and begin to change the way people think and live, going beyond just having a green home.
Building an energy-efficient home or making a home more energy efficient does have a cost. As a result, some things cost less; others don’t cost a cent. Where price is involved, and access bond can be used to get the finance required. Of course, one can go green piece by piece and save up for the work that needs to complete. When building from scratch, the cost per metre will increase, and any bond taken out will be higher. Inform your bank or bond provider that you are building green or making energy-saving improvements, and you may find they are supportive. Some banks and lenders give incentives to go green, lower interest rates or discount if specific products must be used. Asking will always go a long way.
Why Go Green By Building Energy Efficient Home?
Going green is something every homeowner or home builder must consider. Building an energy-efficient home that saves money long term and gives back to or takes less from the environment is the right way to go. There are many reasons to go green, and it is well known that there are many ways to make your home more eco-friendly. Some of the ways to go green are well known. Some should be well known and, despite staring you in the face, are overlooked.
Some of the reasons why you should build an energy-efficient home or make your home green are:
Save money – top of the list for many people, saving money is a big reason to go green.
Reduced stress – money is saved through lower energy bills. There is less to worry about with lower energy bills at the end of each month, and stress levels drop.
Feels good – it feels good to go green and build an energy-efficient home. Knowing your carbon footprint is smaller leaves a happy feeling inside.
Pay off debt – using the savings from reduced energy bills; you can pay off debt. Once the debt is paid, you can save on holidays or big-ticket items you want for your family.
Others will follow – when you go green and make savings, others will want to know how you did it. When you tell them, and when you use what going green has taught you, your next-door neighbour and friends will follow.
Lifestyle improved – by going green in the home, you will find ways to go green in other areas of your life. This makes a lifestyle change that makes you happy and makes nature smile back at you.
How Do I Start Building Energy Efficient Home or Make my Home Greener?
There are many ways to go green, some logical, some needing a bit of thought, some costing nothing and others that may need finance.
Here are some ideas on how to make your home greener or build an energy-efficient home:
Where you build or choose to buy
Some older properties in South Africa face South. Designed by English architects and built by English builders, they used what they knew from the UK. In South Africa, a north-facing home gets the most sunshine and thus is warmer. This means the house is naturally warmer in winter but considerably hotter in summer; having some protection from the sun will be needed in summer.
Thankfully South Africa is not prone to earthquakes or hurricanes, but natural elements need to be considered. Building or buying close to a river could result in flooding at certain times of the year. Johannesburg, in particular, has seen some adverse rainfall, and rivers have swollen considerably.
Public transport needs to be a consideration when buying or building an energy-efficient home. Using public transportation indirectly makes your property more energy-efficient because you are more efficient. Vehicles such as cars, motorbikes, and bakkies use fuel, using public transport saves energy. Public transportation such as Gautrain in Gauteng or Myciti bus in Cape Town can reduce travel times to and from work at peak times and save you money.
When Building Energy Efficient Home Smaller Is Better
A smaller home is easier and cheaper to heat and cool. Building a tiny home using energy-efficient building products with an intentionally green plan makes a significant green impact. Larger houses, although affordable, have a much larger carbon footprint. More significant spaces automatically use more energy to heat and cool.
A smaller home is more manageable and more comfortable to maintain; this is cost-saving too. Building an energy-efficient home is far more practical when making smaller.
When Building Energy Efficient Home Choose The Correct Appliances
In recent years new appliances have come with an energy star rating. All new devices have to inform you of their energy rating. All manufacturers are working towards making their devices more efficient. The energy star rating tells you how much energy an appliance uses. If going green and reducing energy use is something you take seriously, review the devices you have. A growing number of stores or manufacturers take older appliances in trade exchanges. A home with 80% or more “A” rated machines will bring considerable energy savings that will be felt financially.
Insulation Is The Most Important Part of Building Energy Efficient Home
In South Africa, because the weather is warmer, many homeowners believe insulation is not necessary. Insulation does not just keep a home warm in winter. It keeps it cool in summer. This means less energy is used. Less energy is used because fewer appliances are used to heat and cool the house.
When Building energy-efficient home insulation should be part of the plans, it is far easier and more effective to install insulation when building. This does not mean that insulation can only be established when building from scratch. Any home can benefit from insulation, and the savings far outweigh the costs. A well-insulated home can produce up to 40% savings on energy bills.
Simple things like gaps around doors and windows can be quickly filled; escaping warm air accounts for higher heating bills. Geyser blankets, loft insulation, and lagging of water pipes make a big difference in making a home energy efficient. Too many households waste money on heating and cooling their homes simply because of a lack of insulation. Insulation is one of the best investments a homeowner can make. When building a new home with insulation in mind, more than average energy savings can easily be made. Good insulation also improves the market value of a property. Check the Isotherm specifications or the Aerolite specification depending on your ceiling insulation of choice. Install SANS compliant insulation with R-value 3.70
Roof ventilation reduces the heat build-up in the roof space in summer. Proper roof ventilation like a Whirlybird heat extractor on the roof space will reduce unwanted heat build-up in the roof. Roof ventilators minimise condensation as well as the potential for roof mould. For the best roof ventilation price, visit our Roof Ventilation Price List Page.
When Insulating, Make Sure To Use Professionals
To get the best roof insulation price, use the services of professional roof insulation installers. However, this is not the most important thing when it comes to home insulation. Using the services of professional ISOTHERM INSULATION INSTALLERS or AEROLITE INSULATION INSTALLERS means your home will be correctly insulated.
Recycle As Much as Possible When Building
South Africans are used to recycling, and more homes are making a concerted effort to do so. Recycling starts by reducing your need to purchase products that cannot be recycled or environmentally friendly. Make sure to install eco-friendly roof insulation products like ISOTHERM INSULATION OR AEROLITE INSULATION. Insulation products like ISOTHERM are regarded as the most eco-friendly insulation products on the market. The ISOTHERM itself is recyclable.
Around the home, reusing materials or everyday items should be part of your energy-efficient home. Plastic carrier bags can be used more than once but ideally, consider more robust longer-lasting bags. Many supermarkets encourage shoppers to consider eco-friendly carrier bags, and hessian and other bags are often on sale at till points. When you think green and think of saving the environment, think of all options for building an energy-efficient home.
Reuse to build and renovate
Using recycled building materials is a green way to build. Recycled building materials such as wooden floorboards, doors, roof tiles and bricks bring character to a property. Recycled building materials are often more affordable than new ones.
Reclaimed timber can be used; it may not always be used for what it was originally intended for but again adds character. Glass and metals can be recycled or reclaimed and put to good use when building an energy-efficient home.
Other green building materials include bamboo and cork. Bamboo especially has become immensely popular in recent years. Bamboo is also more affordable than wood, grows fast and is naturally renewable.
Some new building or insulation products are made from recycled products. ISOTHERM, for example, is made from recycled plastic bottles and is one of the best insulation products on the market.
Using The Power of The Sun When Building Energy Efficient Home
South Africa is flooded with sunlight every day. Making good use of this when building an energy-efficient home by installing a solar energy solution makes sense. The location of the house is essential when installing solar. It may be the ERF to build on is chosen explicitly with solar in mind. Solar is one of the best options for creating an energy-efficient home.
Solar energy can be costly to install, but it will pay for itself in a relatively short time. Eskom provides relief in the form of discounts on solar. These rebates may not sound like a lot, but they do make a difference.
Even if only used to heat a swimming pool or power a hot water geyser, solar energy will reduce energy consumption from the grid. In reducing energy consumption, the cost of energy bills comes down. Solar panels with a battery system and inverter can keep you off the grid with energy consumption. In fact, with the energy-efficient home that you are building, there will be far less use for excessive energy.
Windows are a Big Part of Building Energy Efficient Home
Windows are part of a house that drains energy. Gaps around windows allow warm air out in winter and warm air in during Summer. When building an energy-efficient home, windows are often overlooked.
There are some options to consider when installing or replacing windows. Double glazing is one choice that, while more costly than single glazed windows, brings tremendous energy-saving benefits. Double glazed window benefits are excellent. Tinted glass is another option to consider; tinted glass reduces the sun’s glare, keeping a room cooler.
Another option to consider with windows is a reflective film. This easy to apply metallic film reflects the harsh, hot rays of the sun. With reflective film, one needs to consider the reversal of benefits in winter. In winter, sunshine is required to keep a room or home warm, the reflective film prevents this from happening, and thus heaters get turned on again. When considering installing reflective film on your windows, think about how much you need the sun to stay warm in winter as well as keeping cool in summer.
South Africa has seen the worst drought in many years, and many towns and cities face water restrictions. There are two elements of saving water. The first is too useless. The second is to preserve and conserve moisture.
Using less water is something that anyone building an energy-efficient home should have high up on the list of must-haves. Whether you are making a new property or just trying to reduce the amount of water used in an existing property, some solutions help. Low flow toilets are one solution, a modern version of a brick in the cistern. Aerating and controlling the flow of water in showers, baths, and sinks with devices that pump air into flowing water save a lot of water.
Appliances that use water should be reviewed and replaced with washing machines and dishwashers that use less water. Just like the energy star rating, new washing machines and dishwashers inform buyers about water consumption.
Saving water is just one side of the equation to consider when building an energy-saving home or looking to conserve water. Despite the limited rainfall South Africa has seen rain harvesting systems play a big part in saving and preserving water. These solutions are perfect for watering gardens and washing cars when the water is not consumed. Combined with a greywater recycling solution, scarce water is wasted.
Other options that can be considered are boreholes and well points. These do not use water from reservoirs that are used to store drinking water. It is not uncommon to fill swimming pools with drilling or wellpoint water. One needs to consider that well points and boreholes may come under water restrictions at some point.
Building Energy Efficient Home Make Sure To Use Led Lighting
We take lighting for granted, but few homes genuinely respect this. One of the most significant ways to make any home energy efficient is to switch off lights that are not needed. Changing the type of lightbulb or lighting system also plays a big part in creating a home energy-efficient and eco-friendly.
A few years ago, the directive from power generators such as ESKOM changed from standard incandescent globes to energy savers. A large number of households took heed of this energy was saved. Many homes saw a slight reduction in energy bills, even when Eskom prices went up.
Today there is a more eco-friendly and lower energy-consuming lighting solution. LED lighting systems are 75% more efficient than conventional light bulbs. The LED globes themselves have a lifespan that is 25 times longer than traditional globes. Installing an LED lighting system does come at some cost, but the payback is relatively quick and substantial. The reduced energy consumption combined with the reduced need to replace globes means considerable savings are made long-term. When building an energy-efficient home, LED light is the only lighting that should genuinely be considered.
Taking control of energy-sapping functions in the home means using a little technology to save energy and save money. Programmable devices for controlling hot water geysers can bring significant energy savings. When a geyser, for example, is switched off and on as needed, less energy is wasted. Why is a geyser switched on when nobody is home or when everyone is sleeping?
Suppose heating or cooling systems are being used and set them to temperatures requiring less energy to be used. In a well-insulated home, heaters don’t need to be on so high, and air conditioning does not need to be cold. Many homes leave heaters and coolers on all day when they can be programmed to switch on at set times, and even then, only when the temperature is outside the range set.
How green does your garden grow?
Most people assume that because the garden is outside than it is automatically green. More people still don’t know how a garden aids in building an energy-efficient home.
A garden with indigenous plants and those such as succulents that require less water is immediately more eco-friendly. The plants chosen in a garden can directly impact water consumption.
Do you need your lawn? Lawns thrive on water and need regular mowing that uses energy. You may be able to pave your garden or reduce lawn size through paving. Paving does not need watering.
The shade your garden provides to your home helps in reducing energy consumption. Tall trees filled with leaves block the sun and keep rooms cooler in summer. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter and allow the sunshine to warm a room. Trees can be a natural energy saver in your home. For those with wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, dead wood or wood from pruning can provide valuable firewood.
There are so many ways that you can build an energy-efficient home. It doesn’t take a lot to switch from black to green. These final tips can be the first place you start in your quest to go green and even save money in the home and with your family.
A Few Tips To Save Energy
- Switch off lights you don’t need
- Unplug devices – even when switched off, many devices still draw power unless unplugged.
- Unplug cell phone chargers that are not charging the phone – they still draw power when not connected to a telephone.
- Use recycled containers and bags as much as possible – margarine tubs and yoghurt pots are green storage containers.
- Draw up a family plan to go green
- Use public transport more
- Find entertainment that is fun, safe and green – outdoor activities such as cycling or walking. Getting away from TVs and other screens will bring your family together and reduce energy costs in your home.