Home OpinionLuqmaan Rawat Sustainable design to help you take back your life

Sustainable design to help you take back your life

by Luqmaan Rawat

Going green might be the best way to save money and the planet Photo Pexels

South Africa – With loadshedding set to continue for the foreseeable future and the price of electricity increasing, many are trying to find ways to cut costs and keep the lights on. While there are companies that rent out solar panels, the rental price is still costly. Luckily, there are relatively cheap solutions to this problem.

During these trying times many are researching and discovering sustainable designs and implementing green principles in their buildings. The concept is not new at all and was first thought about in the 1960’s by architects who were mindful about ecology when designing their homes, explained Mohamed Vawda, an environmental scientist.

“Sustainable design is the implementation of ecological sustainability principles in the built environment with the aim of reducing negative impacts on the environment and improving the health and comfort of the occupants concurrently. The concept originated in the 1960s after numerous architects proposed the notion of ecological architecture. Today, it is more commonly known as “green buildings”.”

 

The importance of sustainable design in today’s world

South Africans face many challenges on a day-to-day basis. Whether it be loadshedding, water restrictions or simply having your garbage picked up on time. Public service delivery is something people pay for but hardly get. It is for these reasons and more that building a sustainable and eco-friendly home is now more important than ever, said Vawda.

“Building ecologically responsible and eco-friendly homes will not only benefit the environment, but also the inhabitants as there are numerous health benefits and financial savings from incorporating such designs. With unprecedented levels of loadshedding, sustainable designed homes would require less energy to heat, cool and operate on a day-to-day basis. By incorporating sustainable technologies like PV solar and rain harvesting, your dependence on local public services is reduced. In short, it’s worth investing in sustainable design buildings.”

SMread: Loadshedding a burden on farmers that needs to be solved

 

The cost of converting your home to an eco-friendly home

The main concern when it comes to turning your home eco-friendly is the cost of it all. While making big changes can be costly, one doesn’t have to go big to see a difference. Even minimalistic changes can help save you money, said Vawda.

“For most individuals, green buildings and sustainable design is too costly to incorporate, especially in a South African context. The most sustainable thing you can do is to be minimalistic. That is to utilise as little as possible and have the smallest ecological footprint possible. This could be as simple as reusing, reducing and recycling. A cliche, yes, but something that is very effective. By using only what you need, you are not only guaranteed to save money, but also have a lower carbon footprint. Any small effort for sustainability goes a long way.”

 

Ways to reduce your energy bill

While solar panels might be out of your price range there are still simple, effective and methods one can use to save electricity. You can draft proof your doors and windows to eliminate gaps that will prevent heat from escaping and improve cool air efficiency. Even something as simple as ensuring the coils at the back of your refrigerator are dust free can help reduce your energy bill. 

“Always turn off lights that are not in use. Try and purchase appliances with lower energy ratings, these are often marked on appliances for eg. A fridge with an A++ rating could be as much as 30% more energy efficient as compared to one with an A rating. Try and install timers for your geyser as geysers consume a lot of electricity. Lower your geyser temperature by a few degrees. Use LED light bulbs as they are much more energy efficient as compared to normal incandescent bulbs. Switch off appliances that are not frequently used. Insulate your ceiling to reduce the amount of energy required for heating and cooling.”

Geysers account for a large chunk of your electricity bill. By insulating your geyser and the pipes with isotherm thermal insulation, you can save at least 20% on your energy bill. Turning off your geyser can also save at least 20% on your energy bill. Research has shown most geysers water temperature drops by 10 C over 24 hours. It is more cost effective to reheat your water than it is to maintain it at a certain temperature.

SMread: Citizens urged to stay hydrated as heatwave continues

 

Using mother nature to your advantage

South Africa is experiencing a heatwave at the moment and it is the perfect time to capture the energy of the sun for our own needs. Thanks to advancements in technology, you can now get solar powered lights and power banks for a reasonable price. By keeping them in direct sunlight during the day, you can make sure you have light during those dark periods at night.

During these hot days, remember to keep your blinds and curtains closed. This will help to keep the house at a regular temperature instead of heating it up. On cold days, ensure the blinds are open so you can take advantage of the natural light to heat up your house.

Using these tips and building an eco-friendly house will help to reduce your bills, your pollution and your carbon footprint. Not only will your wallet thank you but also the earth. With one strike you can save money and help to keep the earth habitable for the future.

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