Sustainable home improvements to bring down energy costs, reduce household carbon footprint, and increase reliance on solar energy and other renewable energy sources have been on the rise recently, and the main reasons for these are as follows:
- Growing Environmental Conscience
- Looking to Save Money on Power Bills
- Water Restrictions
- A Desire to Become Self-Sustainable
Thankfully, when there is a market, there are products, and there are now many sustainable home improvements designed to improve the energy efficiency, carbon footprint and overall sustainability of homes.
The popularity of these products has increased the number of people looking searching for ways they can update, renovate and improve their homes in order reduce their impact on the environment and bank account. This article outlines a few of these, and how they can help you reach your sustainability goals.
Rainwater tanks have been a mainstay of rural homes for decades – centuries even, in some way or another – but have been steadily becoming more popular for semi-rural and suburban homes, as people look to save water around the home and in the garden.
The prices of rainwater tanks will vary, and what style of rainwater tank you should be looking to install will be determined by how much space you have, and how much of your water use you’re looking to rely on rainwater for.
For less than 30,000L of storage, or anyone looking to use their rainwater tank for the garden and laundry, and maybe a small amount of drinking water or bathroom use, you would be chasing a poly water tank. If you’re looking for much more than that, or to cover the home’s entire water usage then a steel water tank is the way to go.
The home improvement that most goes hand in hand with a rainwater tank is definitely a greywater system. Greywater systems are designed to use reclaimed water – typically from the bathroom sink, shower, laundry sink and washing machine – to reuse in the gardens or toilet.
Being able to reuse water, especially from these parts of the house that often make up a large portion of our water consumption, goes a great way to making water last that bit longer, and means you will need to rely significantly less on your rainwater tank.
Greywater systems are safe to use in the toilet, and on lawns and gardens that are not going to be eaten. More expensive greywater systems will clean more contaminants out of the water, providing fresher water supply to your gardens.
Bathroom and Laundry upgrades
The bathroom and laundry are two places that it is easy to make sustainable living changes and improvements. The laundry is simply a case of making sure that any appliances, be it a washing machine or dryer, have a good energy star rating for both water and energy consumption. This will result in both water and energy saving.
When it comes to plumbing and fixtures, installing a water-efficient low-flush toilet along with water-saving showerheads and tap fittings will help stretch your water resources a little further also. Advancements in these areas have made it much easier to save water without compromising the quality of your shower, or the effectiveness of your flush.
Solar panels have long been one of the more popular home improvements, and as solar panel technology and material cost continue to improve, the interest in the technology only continues to grow. Not only are they a carbon emission-free form of energy production, but they can also often cancel out your power bills altogether, and even give you credits in times where they may support the grid.
Long gone are the days where the most common form of solar panels for the home was used simply as a hot water heater alternative for electricity or gas, solar power is now a feasible and affordable way to lower your grid energy usage, and reduce your carbon footprint.
For properties with pools or hobby farms, solar panels can find a home on top of large or small steel sheds, utilising the space, and providing a local power source to these areas of the property.
Probably the final frontier for domestic solar power was local battery storage so that homeowners weren’t relying on energy use from the grid at night when there is no sunlight, and the solar panels are not actively generating power. The bigger issue, perhaps, is that this is when most household energy usage occurs.
The installation of a battery to store the solar power generated during the day, means that in some cases, people are able to completely wipe their energy bill with the assistance of solar power.
With enough solar generation paired with enough storage, even running more power demanding processes such as air conditioning and pool water heating may not chew though your stored power for the day, completely removing your reliance on fossil fuels – particularly if you can replace your gas stove with an electric induction cooktop.
Particularly in countries with weather extremes, climate control is one of the most energy-demanding areas of the home. With high levels of heat loss, and low levels of heat resistance, people have to rely on an appliance for underfloor heating, air conditioners or fans more often than they might like.
With the right level of insulation, in the walls and also the ceiling, homes can stay cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter with much less energy consumption. Having a cool roof in the summer is especially important as that is where the sun beats down on in suburban homes, and also where much heat loss occurs in the winter months as the hot air rises above the levels of furniture and residents in the home.
Good quality insulation, made from recycled materials or sustainable products, is a crucial way to lower your energy use and improve your scores on any household energy audit.
Double glazed windows
As well as ensuring that there are no air leaks in the home, another way to improve the performance of your temperature control – especially if you install a smart thermostat – is to install double glazed windows.
Unless you want to be keeping the blinds and curtains drawn all day in the hottest and coldest months of the year, double glazed windows are an ace up the sleeve in the fight to find a balance between comfort and sustainability.
Double glazed glass – or insulating glass – consists of two or more panes of glass separated by a space or spacer, in order to improve the insulation and soundproofing of the glass panels. These windows will help limit the outside noise and heat transference typically suffered by regular glass, making you more comfortable in multiple ways.