SUSTAINABLE LIVING TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF INTERNATIONAL EARTH DAY
On the 22 April 2020, the world will be celebrating International Earth Day. To celebrate its 50th anniversary of what was originally a unified response in 1970 to an environment in crisis, this year's theme is centred around 'climate action'. Real Estate Franchise Network, Huizemark shed some light on what defines eco living and considerations we can make in our own homes to support a healthier, sustainable living environment.
Eco or Sustainable Living is described by Conserve Energy Future as the 'practice of reducing an individuals' demand on natural resources by replacing what you use to the best of your ability'. What this means is that ANYONE can do a small part in combatting a much bigger, global problem - especially in South Africa, who is one of the Top 20 countries with the highest emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) due to our heavy reliance on coal.
"In our homes, as an example, technology has enabled us to make better decisions when building or upgrading our homes that alleviates some of the pressure we put on the grid," says Bryan Biehler, Director and co-owner of Huizemark. "These technologies span solar panel products that work really well in South Africa thanks to our hot summers and sunny winters; home insulation options that retain heat during winter and release it during the hotter, summer months; and various water saving solutions including water-saving taps and shower heads plus various grey water options like tanks and gutter systems," continues Bryan.
Although eco-living may also extend to the actual piece of protected land on which you buy or sell, Bryan shares his Top 5 eco-friendly tips specifically for the home as well as considerations to make when buying or selling a sustainable home.
- Be water savvy
- Install water-wise taps and shower heads (you can often pick these up from places like One Day Only on great specials).
- Clean out nozzles regularly to avoid rusting and sediment damage, especially if you're using borehole water (although boreholes can prove a huge bonus when selling your home due its cost saving advantages).
- Look for leaks. Often these will show their unwelcomed faces when water bills are skyrocketing, or electricity bills jump significantly from one month to the next. This will also become a huge problem when trying to sell your home.
- Install rainwater tanks and use the grey water to water gardens, fill pools, wash cars, in toilets and for laundry.
- Fill the dishwasher or washing machine to capacity so you're optimising each cycle.
- Be smart
- Install a smart meter to monitor electricity and water consumption.
- Understand how the meter works so you're able to monitor and change energy or water consumption behaviours.
- African City Energy advise smart meter users to choose a provider that won't force obsolescence and is upgradable remotely to newer technologies.
- Use sustainable design when building or renovating your home
- Natural light can form a massive part of the solution here. Negating the need to use lights reduces not only electricity bills, but light pollution too (yup, there is such a thing), not to mention the positive effects it'll have on the fauna and flora surrounding the area. For the lights you do need, opt for energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LEDs) options which are widely available.
- Timber, Lime and recycled materials are being sourced and manufactured locally to offer cutting edge, design solutions for the home.
- Use sustainable products when building or renovating your home
- Ensure that you have and keep the correct product, maintenance and guidelines certifications (if any) for when you may need to sell your home.
- Due to our diverse climate, South Africa has developed some key technologies for insulating a home - keeping the warm air inside during winter and releasing the cold air in winter. Be sure to do your research based on climatic factors and share this with any potential or sellers of your home.
- There's also merit in the positive impact eco bricks have had on our environment, especially within rural communities. For interesting and eye-catching décor ideas, use eco bricks to create features in your home like kitchen counters or retainer walls. Check out this link from Two Oceans on how to make eco bricks.
- Waste is great
- Re-use your general house waste to help you become more sustainable
- Use food waste for worm farms, compost heaps or to feed chickens you could use to aerate your garden and for fresh eggs.
- Dig a vegetable garden and harvest the seeds from the produce to keep it going.
- Dig and maintain septic tanks - use the meat waste to 'feed' the tank but be sure you have it dug and maintained by a plumbing professional. Certification is advisable here too.
"There has been a significant movement in SA towards environmental responsibility and if we simply look at how many properties across the country highlight their sustainable lifestyle or natural environments, the development of eco living estates will continue to grow," says Bryan.
Author: Adrie Barnard