Sustainable living and Self-sustaining Homes
Sustainable living is all about living a lifestyle that minimizes the use of finite natural resources. It involves reducing one’s carbon footprint through a choice of transportation, dietary preferences, energy consumption, and many other actions. The goal is to be in harmony with the Earth’s natural ecology.
Eco-friendly home-building and living in self-sustaining homes is a big part of a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainable homes are homes that are built using sustainable methods and materials and whose maintenance has a neutral impact on the Earth.
In this article, we will talk about features that can be integrated into a home and lead to the conservation of resources, are in sync with the environment, and save you on utility bills as well.
Heating and Cooling System
The earth constantly produces tremendous amounts of heat. So, why not use that to our benefit? Heating and cooling of a home can be done using heating oil or fossil-fuel generated electricity or you can use a geothermal system that harnesses the earth’s natural heat.
A geothermal system consists of two loops of pipes, one for hot and one for cold water to flow through. A geothermal pump system together with a computer controls the flow of this water and ensures that the right amount of heat is generated at the right time. When paired with a smart thermostat, it can recognize patterns of usage and optimize the amount of energy that is used to operate the geothermal pump.
A geothermal system can be expensive to set up as it may involve deep drilling. However, once the system is up and running, the benefits can be significant.
Water conservation is one of the biggest ecological issues across the world. If you can save water, then you will have contributed quite significantly to the preservation of the earth’s ecology. One way to conserve water is by using a smart irrigation system.
The traditional irrigation system which waters your front or back yards can be set up to do so during certain times of the day (or night) and for a certain duration. At most, such systems would detect if there has been rainfall and avoid watering when the yard is wet from rainwater.
Smart irrigation systems go a step further and detect the intensity of light, the soil conditions, and prevailing weather forecasts to set its watering schedule. Such systems are known to save water usage by up to 40 percent. That is a significant amount given that the Earth is becoming increasingly water-stressed.
Other ways to save water is by using water-efficient appliances and fittings. A smart showerhead can optimize water usage when taking a shower. Rainwater harvesting can harness water from rainfall and be used for specific purposes, thus saving water supplied from the city, which would otherwise be used for those purposes.
No discussion on sustainability is complete without talking about solar. Solar panels, solar water heaters, and solar appliances can also significantly reduce the amount of grid-energy that a home consumes. You can install solar panels on top of your roof and generate plenty of power.
Solar energy can also be used to heat and cool a home. A home can be designed in such a way that the winter sunlight enters the home and heats it up while the summer sunshine can be kept out and prevent the home from getting too hot. One has to study the solar patterns during these seasons and then design walls, windows, and roofs in such a way that solar energy can either be trapped or prevented from penetrating depending on the need. This concept is called passive solar building design.
Thus, electricity can be saved not only through solar panels, but also through smart design that harnesses the energy of the sun.
Lights take up a lot of electricity. Traditional incandescent bulbs waste 90% of the electricity they consume by dissipating it as heat energy. So, any improvement in the efficiency of lighting can be a major benefit. The answer to inefficient old-school bulbs is LED lighting. LED lights are way more efficient and last way longer than incandescent bulbs and tube lights. Use energy-efficient LED light bulbs and save up on those utility bills.
Additionally, if there are ways to minimize the need for artificial lighting, then that immediately is a plus from a sustainability standpoint. A home can be oriented in such a way that it receives natural light from the sun. Certain parts of the home can get sunlight from the east during the mornings while certain parts of the home can get light from the west during the afternoons and evenings.
Tending a garden can be quite therapeutic. It can help reduce stress and improve relaxation of the mind. Having a vegetable garden in your back yard is not only good for the health, but also good for the environment. Gardening promotes decomposition of the soil and plants produce oxygen.
The concept of farm-to-table can be practiced as a sustainable lifestyle. You can help cut down on carbon emissions resulting from the transportation of vegetables from the farm to the supermarket and the emissions resulting from the energy consumption of the supermarket. A vegetable garden, in a way, completed the sustainability of a home.
Thus, building a sustainable home can be achieved by focusing on five key areas: heating, energy, water, light, and diet. These are the core elements of a sustainable lifestyle. By making them the cornerstone of your home, you can truly turn your home and your lifestyle into one which is in balance with the ecology.