How to Improve Your Home’s Sustainability?

Ways to improve your home's sustainability

Today, we are all becoming more aware of the need to be eco-friendly. However, there are lots of different ways that will help us all become much savvier about our home environment and encourage a more sustainable lifestyle. When you make your house more sustainable, you are making a contribution to improving the environment. But that is not all. A sustainable home will lower costs, and save energy, water, and maintenance on systems and appliances. Plus, you are making a healthier environment for yourself and your family. In this article, we will talk about how you can make your home more eco-friendly. 

What Is a Sustainable Home?

A sustainable home is an efficient home that is built or retrofitted in a way that respects resources, optimizes energy and water use, and typically lasts longer than standard homes due to higher quality systems. A sustainable home uses low-impact and high-performance materials. These materials typically last longer and break less, thus producing less waste in the long term. Sustainable homes are efficient in terms of manufacturing, shipping, and installation. Here are some characteristics of sustainable homes:

  • More energy-efficient and thus, lower bills
  • Uses durable materials that are less harmful to you and the environment than traditional alternatives
  • Takes into consideration how your family might change in the coming years, and adapts accordingly
  • Builders are more cognitive of the waste during construction in terms of both cost and environmental impact

How to improve your home’s sustainability?

There are two ways to make a home more sustainable. The first is building a sustainable house from scratch and the second is retrofitting your current home to become more sustainable; although the latter is not as easy. Whether you decide to build a new home or retrofit your house, consider the following features:  

Solar panels on house roof
Image by Mischa Frank

Noticing Passive Solar Design

Passive solar energy is a technique in which solar energy is used naturally, without additional mechanisms or external energy sources. It relies on building materials that reflect, absorb or transmit the sun’s radiation. The main goal is to design a home so the sun heats the home in winter, but minimizes the sun’s heat absorption during the summer. So the natural energy from sunlight aids in heating and cooling living spaces. This method is one of the most efficient and effective ways of reducing your energy consumption and ultimately, your carbon footprint. 

Remember that applying passive solar design demands careful preparation and implementation. 

Taking advantage of the local climate and accurate site analysis is key to an effective design. The technique to achieve this is an excellent architectural design optimizing the different construction elements’ position and dimensions of walls and windows. It is also necessary to consider other aspects such as air currents, or the amount of solar radiation received at all times of the year, etc.

Install a Cool Roof

A cool roof is designed to reflect more sunlight instead of absorbing it into your home. This lowers the temperature of your house just as wearing light-colored clothing keeps you cool on sunny days. 

A cool roof delivers higher solar reflectance and higher thermal emittance than standard-designed roofing products. Solar reflectance is the ability to reflect the visible, infrared, and ultraviolet wavelengths of the sun, reducing heat transfer to the building. Thermal emittance is the ability to radiate absorbed, or non-reflected solar energy.

Cool roofs are typically white or some other lighter shade color, as opposed to most roofs in the world that are dark-colored. Under the sun’s heat, the surface of a black roof can increase by more than 38°C.

Benefits of a Cool Roof:

  • Reduced energy use: A cool roof transfers less heat so the building stays cooler and uses less energy for air conditioning 
  • Reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions: By lowering energy use, cool roofs decrease the production of associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Locating high-performance Windows

High-performance windows make a huge difference in using energy. New technologies include double glazing, special coatings, nonconductive framing materials, and higher-quality, air-tight construction.

For a colder climate: Choose well-insulated frames and have the right U-value, which measures the rate heat flows through the interior.

For a warmer climate: Search for what is called a low solar gain. This means that less heat is conducted into the interiors of your home and it also facilitates ventilation. Reflective technologies are beneficial, and so is double glazing.

Install a drip irrigation system

​​Drip irrigation is the most efficient water and nutrient delivery system for growing crops and plants. How it works is it delivers water and nutrients directly to the plant’s root zone in the right amount and at the right time. Therefore, each plant gets exactly what it needs and when it needs it to grow optimally. It enables production at higher yields, while also saving on water, fertilizers, and energy.

Benefits of a Drip Irrigation System:

  • Minimal evaporation and overspray as well as lower water use for lower cost and better water conservation
  • Supply lines can sit on the ground or under a layer of mulch, eliminating the trenches that underground systems require
  • Flexibility as your plants grow and spread
  • Exact delivery that prevents the distribution of water where it is not needed or where it can encourage weed growth
  • Prevention of an excessively moist environment that promotes fungal diseases 
  • Gentle, precise watering that minimizes erosion and runoff
Three people on a ladder adding a home panel
Image by Jens Behrmann

Recycle & Reuse Any Construction Waste

Make sure to keep track of any construction waste that can be reused or recycled. Materials such as bricks, wood or metal, and old appliances have scrap value that can get you some money back. Additionally, you can redirect them from being sent as waste to landfills. 

Draft-proof the Windows

Use foam tape to cover cracks and eliminate gaps in your windows. This can save you cost on your heating and/or cooling systems.

Install Solar Panels

You can use solar panels that generate electricity to power your home. It will power your home with a clean energy source and allows you to reduce your carbon footprint too.

Replace Fluorescent Light Bulbs with LED

LED lightbulbs are worth the switch from fluorescent light bulbs as they offer longer life, and greater energy efficiency that saves you money. Plus, producing them requires fewer toxic metals.

Clean the Filter on Your Clothes Dryer

It is important to clean your clothes dryer filter regularly for lower energy consumption

Dirty filters do not only waste energy, but it is also a fire hazard.

Green garden shovel
Image by Markus Spiske

Create a Compost Bin

Composting keeps waste out of landfills and creates a nutrient-rich additive for your garden’s soil.

Use Cold Water for the Washing Machine

High-efficiency washers and modern detergents get your clothes clean without needing hot water. Also, using cold water keeps your clothes looking newer for longer.

Buy Recycled Products

Buying recycled products or products made from recycled materials has many benefits. One of the benefits is that it is more energy-efficient than creating products from new materials. It is through reusing materials that we can decrease the demand for new materials. After all, pollution is emitted from producing new materials and we mitigate this scenario by buying recycled products. Overall, opting for recycled products or ones made from recycled materials helps reduce environmental damage. Faircado is one of the trusted online platforms that you can refer to for buying second-hand items, which is a better form of consumption that can help save the planet.

Buying recycled does not mean compromising quality or that it comes at a higher cost. At Faircado, a sustainable shopping assistant that aggregates second-hand offers from the biggest marketplaces into one platform, the platform offers great quality products at more affordable costs than if you were to buy new.

Use Natural & Green Cleaning Products

Natural and green cleaning products are likely to pose fewer health risks. They are typically much safer and more suitable to use around people with weakened immune systems or health conditions. Natural cleaning products keep toxins out of the water supply, the air inside your home, and your skin. Vinegar, water, and baking soda makes for a fantastic, all-purpose cleaning product and comes at a very low cost. 

You can make your house more sustainable by applying some quick changes and/ or thoughtful investments. Making your home more sustainable will pay you back in energy savings, a better health environment, and higher comfort!

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