Between rising energy costs, decreasing water levels, and the big old hole in the ozone layer, there’s no doubt eco-friendly homes are the way of the future. While it’s a big undertaking to transform your house into a building that runs off solar-power and recycled water, there are some simple steps you can take right now to get you moving in the right direction. They’re all easy to implement and incredibly cost-effective, meaning both you and Mother Nature will reap the benefits.
Bamboo is one of the most sustainable resources on Earth. It grows incredibly fast, requires no pesticides, and gets all the water it needs from natural rainfall. Bamboo works wonders in place of other wood around your home (think furniture and flooring) and makes ideal bedding, thanks to the fact it’s super soft, highly breathable, and bacteria resistant. Spend a night on our bamboo sheets to see what we mean.
Keep the heat out of your laundry
Making 30°C your hottest wash will allow your machine to use around 40% less electricity with every cycle. Using cold water is even better, reducing energy usage by up to 90%. It’s also much kinder on your clothes and linen, keeping colours bright and fibres strong.
When it comes time to dry your items, opt for the clothesline where possible. While the dryer’s great for rainy days and quick turnarounds, it produces up to 3kg of carbon emissions every hour it’s in use, making it one of the least environmentally friendly appliances in your home.
Replacing your existing bulbs with energy efficient varieties can reduce your energy usage by a whopping 66%. Even swapping one bulb over will have a big effect, reducing your greenhouse gas emissions by up to 180 kg over the course of the new bulb’s lifetime.
Use your curtains
Keep your curtains or blinds closed on hot days to keep the temperature down and reduce the need for fans and air-conditioning. On cold, sunny days, throw your curtains open so your rooms catch the warmth of the sun’s rays.
When it’s time to invest in your next round of winter blankets, always opt for wool over polyester. It’s far more eco-friendly and will also insulate you more effectively.
Embrace natural cleaning products
Using harmful chemicals to clean your home might be good for removing mould, but it’s bad for the environment. When you wash the chemicals down the drain, you’re putting them into the water supply, necessitating a much more intensive water purification process. Give Mother Nature a hand by buying eco-friendly products next time you’re at the supermarket, or by using vinegar and bi-carb soda (both of which are surprisingly effective).
Buy smart appliances
When it’s time to get a new fridge, washer, or dryer, choose an option with a good energy rating. Look for the red and yellow sticker on the appliance, keeping in mind the more stars it has, the more energy efficient it is. The energy consumption section on the sticker is also helpful, as dividing the figure by four will give you a rough idea of annual running costs. For example, a fridge with 400 kWh energy consumption will cost around $100 per year in electricity.
Get in the habit of unplugging appliances at the wall when they’re not in use. A lot of modern appliances, like TVs and computers, are designed to idle in stand-by mode whenever they’re still plugged in to the socket, turning them into a drain on your energy bills and the environment.
A low-flow shower head can help a family of four save 160,000 litres of water each year, a low-flow toilet can reduce the amount of water in each flush by up to 50%, and low-flow faucets reduce water flow by around 40%. All this adds up to more water in our dams and more money in your pocket, thanks to reduced water rates and – if you use a lot of hot water - smaller electricity bills.
A lot of household products come in concentrated form these days, from laundry powder to dishwashing detergent and floor cleaners. These are more environmentally-friendly than their non-concentrated counterparts, thanks to the reduced amount of packaging and cheaper transport cost, which reduces their carbon footprint.