By Steve and Suzanne Burke
If you are about to embark on a home renovation project, you have the perfect opportunity to start living a greener life. With some smart choices you can plan a green home renovation that saves money in future costs AND reduces your impact on the environment. The three mantras to living a more sustainable life are reduce, reuse and recycle. The easiest way to achieve a green home renovation on a budget is to focus on the first mantra – reduce.
Think about our precious resource: water
It is no secret that one of our most precious resources in Australia is water. It stands to reason then that anything we can do to reduce water usage is the first place to start when looking for ways to make our homes greener.
Reduce energy use and reduce bills
It seems the only way is up with electricity bills. Looking for ways to decrease energy use in our homes is great for the environment but great for your budget too. We all know that turning lights off and switching appliances off at the wall switch are good ideas, but there are also some simple things we can do while renovating too.
So how can we achieve a greener home renovation by reducing water and energy use without busting the renovation budget?
1. REDUCE water usage in the Shower
You can try taking shorter showers, but for many of us long showers are a hard habit to break. The best way to reduce water usage in the shower to simply restrict the water flow. You can completely replace your showerhead with a new water-saving showerhead. Or you can install a flow restrictor onto your existing showerhead. This will slow the flow of water and is the cheapest and easiest option.
2. Replace or Modify taps to save water
Replace old taps – especially if they are leaky – around the home with new taps that restrict the water flow. A great low-cost alternative to replacement is to screw on aerators to the end of each tap. This is a simple DIY project that will reduce flow rate while aerating the water and decrease your daily water usage.
3. Say Goodbye to the old dunny
Did you know that the humble old-fashioned dunny is flushing away 10 to 12 litres of precious water at a time? Older toilets only have a single-flush button, whereas modern toilets have a dual-flush system which greatly reduces water wastage. A light flush with a modern toilet can use as little as 3 litres and a ‘number 2’ flush around 6 litres.
A new toilet could save tens of thousands of litres of water per year. Keeping old fixtures such as the old dunny no longer make sense economically or environmentally.
4. Save with led lighting
An essential part of many home renovations is an overhaul of the electrical system (always get a licenced professional in) to bring it in line with modern safety standards. Install LED lighting at the same time and get rid of all of your old traditional light bulbs. LED lights have a slightly higher purchase price, but this is offset by the benefits they deliver over time. Benefits are reduced energy usage and lower maintenance and replacement cost due to their longer lifecycle compared to traditional light bulbs.
5. Choose whitegoods with high energy ratings
Choose appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and freezers with a high energy rating. These can significantly reduce your daily household energy use. The whitegoods market is competitive and you should have no trouble finding an affordable appliance that also has a high energy rating. With washing machines and dishwashers, look for those that also have a high water rating.
Saving the planet, one household at a time
Reduced energy use lowers our carbon footprint and ultimately helps each of us to play a small part in protecting the future of our planet.
There are stacks of other ways to make your home renovation greener and this is an area where homeowners are increasingly showing more interest. Many of us now realise that green initiatives not only reduce our impact on the environment by also deliver great ongoing cost savings.
Steve Burke and Suzanne Burke are co-authors of Nail Your Renovation Without Getting Screwed (Woodslane Press $34.99), a new book packed full of expert renovation advice and tips so you avoid becoming a building horror story. They are also owners of Amerex Renovations and Additions, an award-winning renovation company with over 20 years of experience.
Find out more at www.amerex.com.au