Tuesday, 27 September 2011

5 Steps to Creating a Sustainable Home

Sustainability in its truest form is the capacity to endure. With ongoing debates surrounding climate change and green energy the focus of building new and redeveloping existing homes has shifted towards how to become more sustainable.  You don’t have to be a die-hard green fanatic to create a sustainable home, and deep down, everyone wants to create a safe, sustainable living environment.

In order to do this, you just need to become a little more aware of how certain materials and designs can affect energy usage. Awareness is free and more often than not the materials are just as cheap!
How to Create a Sustainable Home
How to Create a Sustainable Home
Here we highlight 5 steps to creating a sustainable home:
1. Nature & Energy Usage
Energy is used throughout your home in many different forms and appliances so make sure you think about the heating, air conditioning, lighting, and hot water. Knowing when to use nature to help you be sustainable is the first step.  The spring and summer months should allow you not to use any form of heating and you can take advantage of the extended seasonal day light hours by not using electricity. This can cut annual consumption by around 25%.
2. Manage your water usage
According to the AWWA (American Water Works Association) the daily indoor per capita water use is 69.3 gallons. If this figure is combined together with the rest of the population then it adds up to a substantial amount. Consider installing low flow toilet to save water or even more extreme a compost toilet as they do not use water for flushing at all!
Alternatively you could collect and recycle rain water via rainwater tanks as this can aid self-sufficiency, providing aback-up supply in case of water restrictions.
Our Grey Water System
Our Grey Water System
3. Being materialistic is sometimes good
Knowing about materials can help you reduce the energy used when building or redeveloping your home. Materials such as Straw has been used as a building material for centuries, but not many people know it is cheap and can be used to insulate your property which can increase heat retention whilst possibly being the most cost effective thermal insulation available.
You can read more about using a mixture of clay and straw to insulated your home here;
4. Not just a pretty design
The actual design of your home can have a significant impact on how sustainable you can be in the long term. Not many people know that the specific climate zone you’re in can be utilised by implementing appropriate design elements to condition and heat the home. If you are in the pre-build stage then good orientation (building your house in the right direction) increases the energy efficiency of a home by up to 40%. If your home is already built than implementing new features such as skylights can be very effective. Skylights can admit more than three times as much light as a vertical window and can be used to heat a home.
Check out this excellent article on the elements of an energy efficient house from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory;
5. Outside Inside
The outside of your home is an extension of your interior and what better way to make it work for you than hydrophonic gardening. Hydroponics is a system that grows any produce in small spaces, including window sills and spaces near a light source. If you can grow your own vegetables and herbs then you are one step closer to becoming sustainable.
Think how you can create a more sustainable living space; even if you have to start off small, every change has an impact.


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