A Guide to the Essential Elements of Building an Eco-Friendly Home
By Enrique Hormillo of SolarNRG Philippines
Climate change is a fact. It is not a false claim of scientists who have got too much time in their hands. It is happening; it’s been happening for a long time. As such, it is not a problem looming on the horizon but a concern of all humans. More importantly, climate change poses real and serious threats to mankind’s future.
As of July 2021, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere has reached its highest point in human history. It is the culprit in an array of catastrophic events felt throughout the globe, including droughts, heatwaves, sea-level rise, and extreme typhoons, among others. Today, 800 million people are vulnerable to the life-threatening impacts of climate change.
While 71% of global emissions can be traced back to 100 companies, making them the most accountable for the problem, this is not the time to get on your high horse. What we need is collective action. And as a private citizen, you, too, can do your part in our fight against climate change.
For example, you may commit to building an eco-friendly home. Here’s how.
7 Tips for Building an Eco-Friendly Home
- Getting energy-efficient appliances
- Prioritizing natural light
- Using recycled materials when possible
- Shopping vintage
- Going solar
- Getting behind home automation
- Ensuring proper insulation
1. Getting energy-efficient appliances
Whenever you shop for home appliances, make sure to opt for those with the Energy Star label. That means you are buying something that smartly uses energy. For example, Energy Star-approved light bulbs consume less energy than traditional bulbs by up to 75%. Not only will you get to reduce your monthly electricity bills but you get to make Mother Nature happy, too.
Another way to limit your energy use is by being mindful of water consumption. You may choose electronic faucets to reduce water wastage. A dual-flush toilet, which has options for flushing liquid or solid waste, is another noteworthy idea.
2. Prioritizing natural light
Natural light will make your home feel bright and airy. It will also make you less reliant on artificial light sources, reducing energy use.
There are many ways to ensure natural light gets into your house’s interior. For example, there’s the skylight. If you have yet to build your home, discuss with your architect how you can introduce a skylight into your house’s design. This update is an excellent option if you’re planning a renovation, as well.
If a skylight is out of the question, at least make sure your house has enough windows facing the sun. That way you don’t have to switch on artificial lights in the daytime. Glass walls are logical ideas, too.
3. Using recycled materials when possible
The end goal is to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle. While that seems like an impossible feat, it is perfectly doable. However, it takes unbridled commitment.
For starters, you need to be on the same page as your home builder. Discuss your options for recycled building materials. Noteworthy examples include rubber roofing, composite decking, and paper-based countertops, to name a few.
Whenever you can, opt for aluminum or repurposed wood. Those are just some of the most sustainable building materials at your disposal.
4. Shopping vintage
In decorating your house, say no to businesses like interior design companies that promote fast fashion. As we all probably know by now, fast fashion is detrimental to Mother Nature.
Instead, hunt for nice pieces from vintage or pre-loved shops. What you will find from those places are house accents and accessories with character and history to boot.
If you get lucky, you might even score those pieces for bargain prices. And if you become a consistent client in one of those shops, the owner might give your first dibs on their newest, albeit technically old, products.
5. Going solar
It is a given for homeowners to want their real estate property to appreciate over time. That is what investments are for, after all.
To achieve such a goal, the key is to get clever. Remember that simple but smart upgrades can increase your home’s value.
Think going solar. Nowadays, many people are aware of the benefits of solar energy, especially in terms of combating climate change. That means a solar-ready home will always be more desirable than those that rely solely on carbon energy.
6. Getting behind home automation
Contrary to popular belief, home automation is not exclusive to the affluent. You may consider home automation devices that offer value for money, if not entirely affordable. They might even allow you to reduce energy consumption, thus proving to be a cost-efficient investment in the long run.
For instance, with a smart home device, you may automate your cooling and heating systems. They can adapt to natural temperatures. If it is not too cold outside, there is no need for your AC to work extra hard to cool the house’s interior and vice versa.
7. Ensuring proper insulation
Poor insulation results in a faster exchange of heat. That means your AC system has to work harder in maintaining a pleasant indoor temperature. In such a case, you will be using up more energy than necessary, not to mention paying costly electricity bills.
These unfavorable scenarios may be mitigated by installing high-quality insulation from the get-go. Talk with your house contractor about energy-efficient insulation options. Ideally, they offer longevity, too.
Closely linked to insulation efficiency is duct system reliability. Make sure yours have no leaks. Those contribute to poor air conditioning, too, leading to energy wastage.
Final Thoughts on Building an Eco-Friendly Home
There are many ways to stop climate change. On an institutional level, there’s the passing of laws to mitigate carbon emissions across the board. In that regard, as a private citizen, the most you could do is make sure that the public leaders you elect in key positions hear what you have to say. Their priorities must align with yours.
On a personal level, you have the power to enact simple lifestyle changes. For instance, you may follow the tips we’ve mentioned here for building and maintaining an eco-friendly home.
Also, you must keep the conversation going. The more people realize that climate change is everyone’s concern, and the more that people become vocal about their stance against carbon emission, the harder it will be for those in power to ignore our collective sentiment.
Enrique Hormillo is a Business Development Executive at SolarNRG Philippines. Its parent company, SolarNRG Netherlands is one of the largest suppliers and installers of solar power system in Europe. Enrique’s experience stretches beyond business development as he also works as a Marketing Director for a motorsport store — further solidifying his business acumen.