Going Green at Home
With electricity use such a problem around the country at the moment, it might help to have some useful information about what you can do at home to help. An article on “Greening your home” by Giles Griffin was published in The Property Magazine (April 2008). Environmentally friendly and energy saving design has gone in and out of fashion over the years, but it’s now safe to say that “going Green” makes a lot of sense.
Electricity isn’t the only supply that is proving unreliable and costly. In Cape Town, there are similar constraints that apply to water and waste management. Generating up to 6% more waste each year, Cape Town’s landfill sites are steadily filling up and closing fast. Out of the six sites that are currently available in the province, two have already closed and two more are nearly full. Waste is undeniably a major issue, as soon there will be nowhere for it to go.
Water demand is growing by 4% a year and is a problem throughout the country. Although water experts believe that there’s no need to worry and that there is little danger of another Eskom situation, there are now by-laws that have been established in the Cape to govern the use of water. The point is that South Africans need to act rather than just think about saving energy, waste and water. Anybody who has seen An Inconvenient Truth will have an idea of what this means.
Grace Stead (owner of environmental consultant company, Steadfast Greening) has produced an extremely practical and user-friendly Smart Living Handbook that outlines various things that can be done to save in all areas at minimal cost. Some of these include fitting a solar water heater to save energy, or installing compact fluorescent light bulbs and switching off appliances when they aren’t in use. In order to reduce waste, it’s suggested that you check the toxicity of items that you buy, compost your organic waste and follow the three Rs: reduce/recycle/reuse. To save on water, taps need to be aerated, toilets multiflushed and a water-wise garden planted.
Reinhold Viljoen, also an energy consultant, mentions making passive solar inventions in your home, such as shading, overhangs, insulation in ceilings and walls, and considering what type of glass you are using. To save water, he suggests that you harvest rainwater to flush toilets and top up pools, as well as using grey water systems for the garden.
When it comes to looking after our environment, we can start by looking after our own properties and ensuring that we are doing all we can to save on energy, waste and water. It might mean a little more of an investment upfront, as some of these alternatives are a little more expensive, but they will certainly pay for themselves in the long run.
The information in this article is courtesy of Giles Griffin, “Greening your home” in The Property Magazine, April 2008.