Home Improvement

Sustainable Living: The Eco-Friendly Home

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Sustainable living has countless benefits for your health and wellbeing, as well as for the environment. Small changes in your daily life can make a big difference – using natural body care and cleaning products, carrying reusable bags and water bottles, and avoiding single-use plastics. Once you get used to sustainable living, you could consider doing more. Like making your Australian house eco-friendly and choosing home service providers that focus on sustainability.

If you want to start your journey to an eco-friendly home, you’re at the right place! There are many things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. From making energy-efficient choices to using recycled materials and composting, every little bit helps create a more sustainable world for future generations.

Table of contents:

What is an eco-friendly home?

When people hear about sustainability, many opinions tend to pop up. Everyone is familiar with the term, but the definition varies. To understand the actual value behind an eco-friendly house, a person needs to consider what is sustainable living, what makes a house sustainable and how that affects the environment.

What is sustainable living?

If you ask renowned ecologist Paul Hawken, sustainability is a state where “the demands placed upon the environment by people and commerce can be met without reducing the environment’s capacity to provide for future generations. Leave the world better than you found it; take no more than you need, try not to harm life or the environment, and make amends if you do.”

In layman’s terms, sustainable living is a mindset that has you doing your best to minimise the damage your daily routine might be inflicting on the environment. Once you accept that mindset, you could think about reducing your carbon footprint. One of the best ways to do that is to live in an eco-friendly home.

What is a sustainable house?

A true eco-friendly house stands apart because it was built considering the local environmental features, conditions, and landscape. Another thing that makes eco-friendly houses great is that they feature sustainable architecture. They are tailored to include quality systems, enabling them to offset their consumption costs before and after their construction. However, being sustainable at home is a process, and you can decide to join at any step of the way!

Can you be eco-friendly on a budget?

With NSW, Victoria and Queensland emitting a combined 400 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, sustainable living in Australia can make quite a difference.

Most sustainable house ideas require investing more than just money and being consistent with your effort. Still, environmentally-friendly building materials can be costly. A fancy carbon-neutral house might seem cool, but it’s also a lengthy and pricey project.

Instead, you can contribute by simply acting sustainably at home. Adopting a few habits can be an excellent first step to sustainable home living. Here are a few sustainability ideas for eco-friendly houses:

  • Consider durability when purchasing building materials, utensils, instruments and appliances.
  • Choose local brands and goods to reduce the CO2 needed to deliver your items.
  • Collect plastic, glass and organic materials separately and take them to a local recycling centre.
  • Reduce the amount of plastic you purchase – including wrappers, bags, and boxes.

You can move on to more significant sustainable house ideas after getting used to minor changes. There are many ways you can progressively convert your home into an energy-efficient masterpiece.

Ways to make your home eco-friendly

If you wonder how to make a house sustainable, there are a million ideas for you to explore. From electricity and heat generation to water usage and furniture – eco-friendly homes have various options.

Sustainable construction

As mentioned above, house construction could be carried out with environmental impact in mind. Here is a list of sustainable house ideas to consider:

  • Location – Your eco-friendly house’s position defines how much time you spend travelling to and from work. Places with easy access to public transport will shorten your commute, reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Orientation – Proper orientation can be of great help when heating your home. Sustainable living homes with south-facing windows get more sunlight during long winter days.
  • Sustainable building materials – wood, steel, glass, bricks and other masonry can be recycled or reused easily.
  • Plumbing – with modern plumbing fixtures, conserving water is made easy. You can purchase low-flow models when looking for a toilet, faucet, showerhead etc. You can also plan for gutters and downspouts to collect rainwater in a tank and use it for toilet flushing or irrigation.

If your home is already built, not to worry – there are still many things you can do in terms of sustainable home living.

Eco-friendly insulation

When we talk about using less energy, one of the most enormous sustainability ideas you could look into is insulation. Your home consumes a lot of energy to heat up during the cold days and even more to cool down during the warm days. That’s why proper insulation can make a difference. It can keep your home temperature steady and prevent your conditioned air from getting out.

The common factors to consider when getting eco-friendly insulation are:

  • Climate conditions – depending on the region you live in, your house might need insulation with a higher or lower rate of heat flow resistance.
  • Flammability – Opt for insulation made from safe materials such as fibreglass. It’s not flammable, and it’s made with glass, which reduces its environmental impact.
  • Replacement and durability – Your eco-friendly home’s insulation should be durable enough to last at least 10-15 years before you need to reinforce it. And when that time comes, the waste materials should be easy to reuse or recycle.

Proper insulation is the most significant sustainable living idea to implement at home. The largest part of your energy consumption bill comes from heating and air conditioning. So the better your insulation, the less energy your eco-friendly house uses.

Another vital thing to consider alongside insulation is air leakage. There should be no openings along your roof or cracks on your walls. People often neglect common air leak points like:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Vents
  • Electrical conduits

All of those should be sealed. You can have your house’s air pressure tested to determine the best sealing points. Most of the sealing methods involve caulk. It’s efficient, but you can opt for an epoxy resin sealer. It’s an organic adhesive, so it’s harmless to the environment and can give a more natural look to your sustainable home.

Solar power

The sun has been around for billions of years and will continue to be here long after life on Earth has ended. So why not use solar energy to power your home? You can’t skip renewable energy when browsing ways to be more sustainable at home.

Did you know that 51.4 billion 350W solar panels in the Sahara desert can generate enough energy to power the planet? It would take about 20 to power your eco-friendly home completely. You can even go the extra length and get a solar water heating unit.

By choosing to produce the energy you consume, you help protect the environment for future generations. Going power-neutral can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat global warming, save endangered wildlife, and improve your quality of life.

With creativity, you can have your own solar greenhouse, which generates energy and helps you grow food. You can place solar panels on your roof or install them in your garden and use the excess heat they give off. Your electricity is stored in batteries and available at night, too. On top of that, your local power provider might be offering to buy any surplus energy your panels generate.

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Energy-efficient appliances

Solar panels might be a great option to generate electricity, but eco-friendly houses must be careful with their energy consumption. The best way to do that is to invest in energy-efficient appliances. By consuming less energy, you reduce the global demand for fossil fuels and save on your electricity bill (provided you don’t generate your power already).

How to make a house sustainable using energy-efficient appliances:

  • Efficient lighting – Replace your light bulbs with LED lights. Even though they cost a bit more, LED lights offset their price with their energy-saving potential in just a month or two. They last for years and use a fraction of the power required for a light bulb.
  • Eco-friendly appliances – Refrigerators, ovens, stovetops, TVs, sound systems – are all staple home appliances, but they might be using more power than needed. When buying, look for models with at least a 6-star energy rating.
  • Solar water heating – other than generating electricity, you can use solar power to heat water for your eco-friendly house. You can choose an active solar water heating system, which uses a pump, or a passive one – which does not.
  • HVAC unit – When choosing one, remember that your HVAC uses the most power out of all your appliances. That’s why selecting the model with the highest energy rating is worth it, even if it might cost more. Also, look into systems with a smart thermostat, which can adjust to your daily routine and reduce your heating energy consumption.
  • Energy recovery ventilation (ERV) – ERV uses exhaust energy to heat the air that comes into your eco-friendly house. Any exhaust ducts inside your home which feature a moving fan can benefit from an ERV. It will take the heat generated by your current ventilation system and heat new air.

Sustainable living homes can benefit from either of these ideas. Whether you can make the change yourself or seek the help of a professional handyman, you have more than a few options to make your choice.

Sustainable furniture

Sustainable furniture’s popularity has been increasing over the last few years. Scores of furniture manufacturers have decided to invest in organic and eco-friendly materials, despite the increased cost. This is because sustainable furniture comes with many benefits for the environment:

  • Organic materials – furniture made from natural or recycled materials is way better for the environment than virgin materials. Examples include green, organic materials like bamboo, seagrass, and rattan, or recycled materials such as salvaged wood or textile.
  • Built to last – sustainable furniture is made to last for decades, reducing its impact on the environment. Some companies specialise in designing pieces that can be continually disassembled and reused. No matter what type of sustainable furniture you are looking for, there are plenty of options.
  • Less waste in landfills – Landfills pollute air and water, and the methane they emit is about 25 times more potent than CO2. Landfills also contain pollutants like dioxin, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide or heavy metals.
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Eco-friendly fashion choices

Consumers are often unaware of the journey their clothes and rugs take before they end up in their homes. It is essential to be mindful of the fabric choice, production process and shipping method when it comes to eco-friendly fashion. You can make a difference by supporting transparent brands’ sustainable practices.

Several initiatives have been aimed at making fashion more sustainable in recent years. For example, companies are focusing on organic materials such as:

  • Hemp
  • Cotton
  • Bamboo
  • Soy silk
  • Linen
  • Wool
  • Jute
  • Corn
  • Coconut
  • Charcoal fibres

As well as new fabric technologies and a push by established brands towards sustainable practices.

Slow fashion, which emphasises quality over quantity, is also becoming increasingly popular. Instead of buying new materials that will eventually end up in a landfill, opt for second-hand clothes and rugs or at least ones of sustainable origin.

This way, you contribute to the future fashion industry while still being eco-conscious. This shift toward sustainability is not just happening in clothing design but in interior design as well. The most sustainable material you can use is something that is already in existence.

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  • An eco-friendly house has a low impact on the environment.
  • The path to sustainability begins in small steps.
  • Your home could become sustainable even if it weren’t built that way.
  • Heating is the most significant factor to consider when thinking about sustainable homes.

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