Coverstory: Greener Home

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In an age where mankind is close to reaching the pinnacle of technological innovation, converting to a green home often translates to giving your humble abode a sustainable, high-tech upgrade that’s pro-environment and works to drive down energy costs. Giving this the green light brings with it a steep price of admission, nevertheless rewarding in the long run. It’s a daunting task, if this is what you have in mind. Except adopting an environmentally responsible standard of living isn’t as complex as what it seems to be.

There are plenty of easy ways your home can be a shelter that also protects the environment. These ideas are smaller in scale compared to what solar panels, programmable thermostats and other automated upgrades can contribute, but add up to make a truly eco-friendly space.

Switch Lights
Conserving energy is one way of showing eco-consciousness. And one of the most known ways to conserve energy in the home is switching to more energy-efficient light sources: the Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL).

In form, LEDs are small but solid bulbs. These small bulbs, the kind you see on newer Christmas lights, are usually assembled and fitted with diffuser lenses for use for a wide range of applications. Compared and can incandescent light bulbs, LED bulbs last significantly longer, are more durable, do not cause heat build-up, proven to be free of mercury, and are low-powered. You may have to shell out more for an LED bulb, but the cost is recovered in energy savings over time. Also, companies like Philips have developed LED lighting to take many exceptional and advanced forms all the while still retaining its energy efficiency.

CFLs, as you can derive from its name, are compact versions of the long fluorescent lights that illuminate establishments of old. Looks-wise, it resembles the common incandescent bulbs that come with standard lamp sockets meant for easy installation. CFLs are available in various shapes and sizes. The common types we see are the spiral and triple tube lamps. CFLs are less expensive than LED but are also as efficient as the latter. It gives high-quality, bright light and can be applied anywhere incandescent lights are used. Note that CFLs contain mercury, so when it’s burned out, proper disposal is imperative.

Studies show that electric lighting accounts for about a quarter of the average home energy consumption, by switching to either LED or CFL, you are guaranteed a substantial reduction in your electrical bill while still getting the illumination you need. In hindsight, air and water pollution are also reduced when you consume less energy.

Get acquainted with your appliances
Majority of your home electric bill consumption comes from the appliances that get plugged into wall sockets. This doesn’t mean that you should go living as if it’s the Stone Age. Get to know the appliances in your home. You can start by identifying the old from the new. Older appliances tend to guzzle more power than new ones. Since there are big efficiency bumps in appliance manufacturing year over year, new machines use less energy to operate and are far more efficient with the introduction of new technologies.

Let’s take one of the most power hungry appliances as an example. A refrigerator with more than 10 years under its belt consumes energy that could already power at possibly three new generation refrigerators. Another example is the washing machine. Old top-load models need to be filled with water from the bottom up, while new ones frout-loading require less water and less energy. Regular maintenance could make a small difference but we suggest retiring them instead.

If you’re ready to make the upgrade, make sure to check out the energy guide plastered on the appliance you are eyeing. While you may be well-acquainted with the yellow sticker, you may not know that the energy guide is part of a government program started to create energy consumption awareness among the major energy-intensive sectors—residential coming in second with 28.6-percent. According to the Department of Energy (DoE), the Energy Efficiency Program is expected to result to a decrease in energy demand, lessen the environmental stress due to energy production and use, and lead to competitive yet affordable production costs of goods and services. The DoE sees the vital role of technological improvements in the reduction of carbon emission and in lowering the cost of those emission reductions. Through the labelling standard, consumers are given the power to identify the most energy-efficient and value for money appliance for their homes.

Flaunt your green thumb
Planting trees is one of the easiest and most sustainable ways to positively give back to the planet. With empty space and empty containers you can try your hand at growing crops to produce food and reduce carbon footprint right in your own backyard.

While you’re at it, you might also want to look through your food waste, layer them on the soil, and put more soil on them to create compost. Violá You can now grow healthy food with the nutrient-rich soil in your background and turn waste into valuable resources. Additionally, when the plants grow into beautiful trees, they can help provide shade in sunny days and block cold winds on chilly days.

Start new habits
If you think none of the aforementioned apply to you, you can always make small changes in your day-to-day routine to help the environment.

Instead of using the dryer for your laundry, you can leave them hanging outside and allow the sun to dry them naturally. On rainy days, you can set up racks in the house and leave your clothes to dry without consuming energy.

You can also leave barrels outside to collect rainwater and use it to water plants, flush toilets, and other purposes you may find it useful. Another habit you should ditch is overusing plastic materials and disposing of them. When possible, recycle your plastic containers and invest in jars and glass containers which are look practical great.

There are plenty more to talk about including the simple ones like unplugging appliances when not in use, spending less time in the shower, turning the lights off when not in the room, among others. Doing all these lessens cost and waste, helping both your budget and planet Earth. Whether it be to fight climate change, encourage healthy living, or save money, it all comes down to this: converting to a green and sustainable home will reap you environmental and financial rewards.

Also published in Gadgets Magazine Ocotber Issue 2016

Words by Mia Carisse Barrientos