While we like to think we don’t need an incentive to be kind to the environment, the reality is you could save money by doing your bit.
Whether it’s reducing your electricity bill or lessening your reliance on store-bought products, there are a number of ways to set yourself up for a better future – environmentally and financially.
We spoke to sustainability advocate and eco-friendly builder Dean Ipaviz for his best tips to transform your household.
1. Think about thermal mass
If building or renovating, insulation should be a top priority. For instance, consider concrete floors or masonry walls to help keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.
“[In winter] the sun hits the concrete, which absorbs and retains the heat during the day, but it doesn’t get hot,” Dean explains.
“Then at night, thermal mass will be released into the home, known as passive heating.”
If you’re building a home from scratch, also consider the orientation for the most effective sunlight exposure.
2. Going solar
By adopting solar power, you could save around $1000 to $2000 on your annual energy bill, depending on location, system size, and actual energy use. Just don’t forget you may need a solar battery too!
Solar panels work hand in hand with storage batteries, which save and re-use the energy generated from the panels for later, when the sun goes down.
“If you’re going to the trouble of installing a 6kW system or larger, you want to make sure that your home is going be optimised to store and use that energy efficiently,” Dean says.
3. Get your windows working for you
Having well-positioned, quality windows can make a drastic difference when it comes to heating and cooling your home, and in turn, could reduce your energy bill.
“A quick, easy and cost-effective fix [for summer] is to install window films on north and west facing windows to try and reduce the amount of UV rays that enter the house. Or, just close the blinds on those windows in summer,” Dean says.
There is always the option to install double-glazed windows or add blockout shutters to make the glass more impermeable to heat.
When it comes to winter, depending on the size and thickness of your windows, curtains can prevent the heat escaping and coolness entering when you have the heater running.
4. Get gardening
Plants not only help purify our air supply, they can feed you too! Starting a herb and veggie garden will save you money on the same store-bought varieties, plus Dean promises gardening can have therapeutic effects for the soul.
The next garden must-have is a compost bin. Not only will it reduce landfill but you’ll never have to spend a cent on fertiliser!
Ipaviz’ number one composting tip is to remember to turn the compost frequently as it needs to aerate properly to work. This will also help you avoid compost nasties like maggots and flies.
“Stir the compost at least once a week to oxygenate it and start the process of the food breaking down,” he encourages. “If you turn it twice a week, it should look after itself.”
Ipaviz also warns against putting meat, dairy and bread into your compost as these won’t break down.
5. Household green initiatives
There are so many easy ways you can contribute to a greener world from the comfort of your own home. The first and most obvious is through recycling.
Make sure to brush up on which items go where and if you have soft plastics, you can even take them to your supermarket to be REDcycled. Also check if you can recycle household furniture and electronics through the manufacturer. Apple and IKEA for example offer store discounts to people who return their used wares back to the brand.
Ipaviz also recommends a new brand called Zero Co, which minimises single-use plastics by offering a remote return-and-refill system for cleaning products.
6. Make your own household products
You could buy your cleaning products or beauty supplies, but you can also make them at home for a lot less. For instance, instead of purchasing a window cleaner, try a mixture of vinegar and water instead: cheaper and just as effective.
Got a stain on that white shirt? Get it out with bi-carb. In fact, bi-carb and vinegar are great, eco-friendly and highly effective cleaning products that will cost you a fraction of a pre-made, chemical concoction.
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