From saying no to single-use plastic to getting serious with recycling, there are many simple ways in which we have changed our daily habits to ensure we are living in a more eco-conscious manner. But when you’re ready to move on from the basics, considering how you live in, and use your home, is a great next step in terms of making a positive environmental impact.
Use passive living concepts to heat and cool
There’s no doubt we have all become pretty accustomed to creating the ideal temperatures in our living spaces via thoroughly-modern gadgets – aircon can be virtually year-round, either warming or cooling our homes. But it is certainly worth grasping the concept behind passive living, particularly when up to 40 per cent of our power bills go on heating and cooling in the home.
The six key elements of passive living include ventilation, orientation, windows, shading, insulation and thermal mass. Without going into too much detail about each point, what is critical to understand is that in summer, we need to stop the sun from hitting points such as windows, brick walls and concrete floors. It is also important to provide cross ventilation for airflow – as moving air is the most effective form of cooling – so opening windows at either end of a house allows air pressure to suck cool air in and move it through the home faster. In winter, it’s time to do the opposite. Ensure the sun can get to areas of thermal mass, and don’t forget about that overhead insulation, as 25-35 per cent of heat loss, is through your roof.
Consider eco-conscious décor
Following directly on from passive living, curtains and/or blinds are a fantastic way to enhance the success of this concept, particularly if you’re able to invest in thermal drapes. Installed correctly (close to the window frame and with a generous overlap) they can block out heat in the warmer months and keep it in during the cooler months.
When it comes to decor – go green, literally! Plants are the easiest way to enhance your living spaces, while also helping the environment too. From filtering carbon dioxide from the air to adding back oxygen, your lungs will certainly thank you for being more eco-friendly.
Consider new paint too, not only can a refresh significantly change the look of a room, it can also tick off two key features; colours that have the ability to passively help ‘heat’ (hues in red, yellow, brown and tan) or ‘cool’ (blue-green to blue-violet) a room.
Go green in the garden
Working on your outdoor environment is just as important as making changes indoors, and here are a few things to consider;
- Trim branches that block the sun, or plant new trees or shrubs to keep inside cool. Choose shade options that are semi-permanent and swap out during the change of seasons.
- Install a rain tank. A lot of rain can fall during a Queensland storm, so why not catch it when you can, and use it on things like filling the pool, washing the car or watering the garden.
- Build a compost bin to further reduce household waste going to landfill (up to 40 per cent of the average Australian household bin is food.) Plus it can go straight onto the garden.
The small details matter
Small changes can add up! So consider some of the great eco-friendly options available on the market now, and look to purchase them when it is time to upgrade appliances, fixtures or fittings. This includes things like LED lights (which are up to 80 per cent more efficient than traditional lighting), eco shower heads (that use less water), dual-flush toilets, and wrapping your hot water cylinder.
What you’ll find at the end of all of these changes, is that you will not only feel great about doing your part for the environment in a big way, but you can highlight all these sustainable living features to potential buyers too.