Changes On Your Home For A More Sustainable Living

Green-Building-Middle-EastTraditional houses were not built with the environment in mind. Most houses require a lot of energy for heating during cold seasons and cooling during hot seasons. A big percentage of houses are not oriented according to the direction of sunlight and wind to achieve better lighting and cooling. As the population continues to increase exponentially, some cities have started to experience the power and water shortage. This problem has led to frequent power and water rationing, especially during dry seasons.

It is important for homeowners to renovate their houses so that they can reduce water and electricity consumption. Improve your house by insulating the doors, walls, ceiling and windows to conserve energy. However, renovation alone is not enough. Old electronics that consume more power should be replaced with modern ecofriendly models to conserve energy. People who are building new houses should use environmental friendly building materials to minimize pollution and over-exploitation of resources.

Solar batteries of most sustainable homes are usually stored in the garage. These batteries work best at room temperature (25 degrees Celsius). Therefore, it is important to renovate your garage so that it can maintain its temperature during cold seasons. This can be achieved by replacing old single-layered garage doors with modern multi-layered garage doors. Garage doors with multiple layers have polyurethane or polystyrene insulation which prevents heat loss. Garage doors that don’t close well and the ones with small openings or cracks allow heat loss. Faulty garage doors should be repaired to maintain the temperature of your garage. Garage door reparations and installations are available at https://okdiscountgaragedoor.com and other companies that offer the highest quality and affordable services. The site sells both traditional and modern energy-efficient garage door models. They also fix garage door cables, springs, door openers, and other door components within the shortest time possible.

How to make your home more sustainable?

1. Insulated floors, ceiling and walls

Insulation reduces energy loss during cold days or winter. There are various types of insulation materials that you can use in your house. The common ones are rubber and aesthetic materials. Install thick carpets in your living room and bedroom to keep your feet warm. Insulation prevents your floor and walls from becoming too cold.

2. Double glazed windows

These windows stop heat loss to the environment when closed. Double glazed windows are perfect for houses located in windy areas and high altitude areas. Another advantage of using such windows is that if one glass breaks, the other one protects you from cold winds. Some models of double glazed windows let in less natural light during daytime, but their insulation capability is more important in a house. Thermal-backed curtains can be used instead of double glazed windows if you have financial constraints.

3. Building materials

As a developer or home owner, you should think about environmental protection before launching your project. Get wood, stones and other building materials from environmentally certified companies. Some companies illegally harvest trees from protected forests located in remote areas. Their activities destroy habitat for wild animals and they also harvest endangered plant and animal species.

Avoid products obtained from endangered plant and animal species. Some endangered tree species such as mahogany are used to make expensive wood products. The high demand for such products encourage illegal harvesting of the trees. Always check for the tick that indicates if a company is environmentally certified before signing a contract.

Toxic building materials, especially those with traces of heavy metals such as lead, and mercury should be avoided at all cost. Materials with asbestos are good for insulation, but they are also deadly. Also check the radiation level of the materials to avoid getting deadly diseases such as cancer and other health complications.

Build your house using bricks with spaces at the center since they are cheaper and easier to transport. Always outsource building materials from your neighbourhood, or within your country to minimize the cost of transportation and pollution. Sand and gravel should be covered during transportation to prevent air pollution. During construction, ensure that all activities are carried out during daytime to avoid making noise at night when most people are asleep.

4. Orientation of the house

When building a house in a cold environment, ensure that you orient your house properly so that it can get maximum sunlight during daytime. Build the house away from tall trees or other objects that can obstruct it from direct sunlight. With enough natural light, you don’t need to switch on lights during daytime.

However, you should orient your house depending on the wind direction if you live in a desert, within the tropics or other hot areas. Increase the size of windows to allow more wind to get in the house and provide natural cooling. This will prevent your air conditioner or fan from running the whole day thus saving electricity.

5. Composting

Every household produces a significant amount of waste each day. Most of the waste is biodegradable and it comes from the kitchen. You can buy a compost tumbler to convert biodegradable waste into manure. The manure can be used to enrich the soil in your garden. Buying a compost tumbler is advantageous since you can sell your manure to farmers and generate side income.

composting-arabic

Home-made manure eliminates the need to buy chemical fertilizers to grow flowers and vegetables in the garden. Fertilizers dissolve in water runoff and pollute rivers and lakes causing eutrophication. Compost manure is environmental friendly and it doesn’t cause this problem. Finally, composting reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and garbage collection sites thus reducing the overall cost of waste management.

6. Biogas production

Biogas has methane, which is an excellent fuel. Biogas can be used for cooking and lighting. Households that use biogas get low electricity bills. Setting up a biogas plant is a long term investment. The amount required to set up a biogas digester depends on the material used and the size of the project. The amount of biogas that is produced varies depending on the size of the composter and the way you feed it with waste.

Biogas production is a good project for farmers who live in remote areas because they can get a lot of plant and animal waste. Studies show that biogas production reduces the amount of methane released into the atmosphere thus reducing greenhouse effect.

7. Rainwater harvesting

Most people don’t harvest rainwater because they don’t have a storage tank. You can start harvesting rain water by just purchasing a huge plastic storage tank or building a concrete storage reservoir to collect rain water. The tank can be located in the basement to prevent it from occupying precious space on the surface.

Rainwater harvesting reduces the amount of water run off which causes flooding downstream. Rain water can be used for various purposes. It is true that rainwater is not safe for drinking, especially if it is harvested in a highly polluted urban area. However, you can buy a machine that purifies water. If the cost of purification is high, you can use the water for washing your car, washing clothes, cleaning the house and watering your flowers, fruits or grass in your garden. This will significantly reduce your water bills,especially if you have a big family.

8. Using energy saving electronics

Most companies have started to phase out electronics that consume a lot of power to conserve energy. Bulbs are some of the most important gadgets in a house. However, most traditional bulbs consume a lot of power.

Replace your high voltage bulbs with LED bulbs to save electricity. Most LED bulbs are brighter, smaller, and more efficient. Replace security lights around your house with ecofriendly LED bulbs. The security lights can have a control system which automatically switches them on and off at a specified time. This minimizes the chances of bulbs lighting during daytime if someone forgets to switch them off.

Phase out old CRT computer monitors and power hungry but less efficient CPUs. Use a laptop or a tablet instead of a desktop computer since the small gadgets require less power. Turn off the air conditioner, bulbs, fan, fridge and other electronics if they are not in use. When you want to shower, If the water is not too cold or frozen, you can avoid heating it to save electricity.

9. Use solar energy

Sunlight is free of charge and you can convert it into power using solar panels. The power generated by a solar panel can be stored in batteries for future use. The lighting system can get its power from batteries connected to solar panels to save electricity. Electronics that consumes less power can also be connected to the batteries.

Buy a solar water heating system to heat the water that goes to your shower. This eliminates the need to heat water during a shower.

10. Gardening and Landscaping

Local flowers and grasses should be planted in the garden to minimize the amount of water used for irrigation. Grasses should be planted on bare grounds to help reduce erosion, which causes siltation in rivers, dams and lakes. Avoid exotic plants that are expensive to maintain. Some plants require pruning and spraying which is costly. Some conifers such as Cyprus trees get attacked by aphids and they require regular pruning to remove unwanted branches. However, if Cyprus trees are well maintained, they can be trimmed to achieve an amazing visual balance in the garden.

Plant vegetables such as cabbage, tomato and kales in the garden to eliminate the cost of buying greens from the grocery. If you have a large garden, plant fruits such as oranges and passion. The garden can supply you with fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. This will stop you from buying vegetables from unknown sources. Some vegetables in the market are genetically modified while others were sprayed with uncertified or illegal insecticides while on the farm.

11. Wind energy

Like solar energy, wind energy is also environmentally friendly and renewable. What you need is a wind turbine and lithium-ion batteries to store the power. People living in remote areas with high velocity winds can generate free power and use it for lighting and heating. Areas with high velocity winds include deserts, shorelines, and open spaces.

Windmills produce some noise and it is advisable to install them a few meters away from your house. If you have a borehole, you can use a windmill to pump water into a storage tank on the surface. If you can’t afford a wind turbine, you can design your own using DIY tutorials available online.

12. Double walls

Double walled houses tend to be warmer than those with a single wall. The walls have a small space between them, which is filled with air. Air is a bad conductor of heat and this prevents heat loss to the environments. Such a house remains warm for a long period of time and it requires less heating during cold seasons.

13. Save water

Use taps that limit water-flow to reduce wastage of water. Repair leaking taps and pipes immediately to prevent losing the precious water. Only wash clothes and towels that are dirty a few times per month to limit the amount of water used for washing. Reuse the water that you have used to wash clothes for cleaning the house or flushing the toilet.

The shower heads should allow less water to flow to minimize the amount of water used during a shower. Go for toilet designs that use less water to minimize wastage. Use a water tab just a few times a month since it wastes a lot of water. Buy vacuum cleaners and other cleaning gadgets that use less water.

14. Plastic, paper, steel and glass recycling

Waste recycling is important when it comes to reducing environmental pollution and reducing the volume of garbage in land-fills. Plastics are a nuisance in streets, parks, rivers and even oceans. In fact, there is a huge volume of plastics in the oceans and it is killing most aquatic animals. Most plastics are non-biodegradable hence they are always present in the environment. The volume of waste plastics can be reduced if plastic recycling is done efficiently.

If polythene bags get collected and disposed of properly, there will be minimal clogging of sewage pipes and drainage systems in urban areas. The best way to enhance plastic, paper, steel and glass recycling, is by having a receptacle for each type of waste. You can sell these materials to companies that recycle them and get paid.

Collect all metals when demolishing a house and take them to a recycling company since metals with sharp edges can cut or injure people. Stones and bricks can be used to build new houses to reduce the amount of debris in the environment.

It is important to build or renovate our houses while keeping the environment in our minds. The goods and products that we consume come from the environment and the waste goes back to the same environment. We should be careful to reduce environmental pollution and over-exploitation of resources. If you own a house, you can reduce consumption of several items to protect the environment. Some of the things that you can do is rainwater harvesting, composting, biogas production, generation of wind energy among others. Old houses should be renovated to add a layer of insulation to prevent heat loss. If every household becomes eco-friendly, we will reduce the amount of waste in our landfills and we will use less water and electricity.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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