6 easy steps to a eco-friendly home

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In our era of runaway globalisation and consumption, we're hearing a lot about the need for more ecological alternatives and solutions when it comes to how we live. Sustainability is not just a buzzword: it's the way forward, and it means taking stock of the quantity and quality of the energy we use (or don't) to power our daily lives. Reducing energy consumption and our impact on the environment starts at home. While sustainable alternatives typically draw the ire of the more budget conscious pundits in the community, making your home an environmentally friendly sanctuary need not be a budget buster. Change can be slow, and for those of us not yet able or willing to transition our lives into a zero-carbon 'earthship' just yet, there are a range of simple solutions that we can bring into our homes more or less straight away.

Today on homify, we're throwing our green caps on: a short, sweet and neat preliminary guide on some of the best practical steps to turn your domestic space into a bona fide eco-friendly home.

Insulation and construction

Before making any wild changes, it's a good idea to first ask yourself is: how much energy does my home actually use throughout the year? Know the data first, and create some any changes as needed. Modern homes, especially in the winter time, are prone to guzzling their fair share of energy to keep rooms heated from the frost and chill. Aside from installing more simple heating mechanisms, like open fireplaces, low-energy gas heaters and the like, it's a really great idea to consider your home's insulation and construction too. 

The right dimensions and construct of your home can impact on how heat is re-circulated and retained; so too, improving your insulation by ensuring it's made of robust materials can make a huge difference on your energy bill and subsequent footprint. In this example, an eco-conscious barn-style house design loses no style by fostering an efficient square attic construction; windows are kept to a functional minimum, while the bulk of the home's warmth is kept in with energy efficient insulation. If you need to improve the insulation in your home, contact a professional, and get a little advice!

Lighting

Here's a simple one. Lighting is one of the foremost users of energy in and around the home. It makes a lot of sense, therefore, to consider the type and style of your light sources. Take stock of your lamps and fixtures, and take a look at the bulbs used in each. Working too many old school, inefficient bulbs at a crazily unnecessary wattage? Twist them out, turf them away for good, and replace as needed with high-efficiency LEDs and low energy substitutions. The supermarkets are replete with eco-friendly lighting options these days at a very affordable price, so no excuse for not sprucing up!

Water usage

Being eco-friendly means shifting our behaviour and habits in a lot of different ways. While 'energy' usage draws much of the sustainability headlines these days, it's crucial to consider the full picture. Take, for example, water usage. Whether for cooking, showering, bathing or generic washing, we all use water in our homes. True, homes in some corners of the world lend themselves to more usage than others, but it's a good idea to conserve regardless, as a basic sustainability attitude and principle. 

Use only what you need, especially when it comes to hot water, which is inevitably tied into energy usage as well. Take inventory of your taps, faucets and fixtures, and consider shifting to low output fittings in order to save on output.

Furniture

Minimalism is a popular interior design style these days. It's roots might lay in the past, however its function has immediate relevance in the here and now. Whether you happen to decorate your home's interior spaces with a minimalist touch or not, it's a fine idea to furnish those spaces with items that use only sustainable materials. 

Sustainable timber furniture, for example, comes from plantations that harvest wood from ethically managed forests. In this neatly minimalist example, we see the virtues of employing sustainable timber in and around the living room: a refined couch-lounge, with matching shelving and sustainable wood table and foot rest. You'll feel so much better about being so relaxed.

Appliances

These days, home appliances and electronics in most countries are classed and rated according to their energy efficiency. The higher the rating, typically the higher the saving on energy, footprint and long term cost. So, when it comes to picking out your next appliance, whether something in-built like an oven or stove, or more compact units like the toaster and kettle, it's a fine idea to hunt down products with a good star rating. On top of that, make sure all your appliances are turned off when they're not being used, or not needed.

Paint

You may not realise, but the type of paint you use in your home can impact not only the environment, but the health of you and your family too. As a petrochemical product, paint is notorious for giving off harmful fumes and chemicals, stemming from core ingredients: heavy metals, and nasty things called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It's also known to create a whole lot of toxic waste in the manufacturing process. 

For these reasons alone, many professional interior designers—and paint manufacturers—have begun to turn to eco-friendly paint. These products use far less amounts of VOC (or none at all), instead containing more natural plant-based ingredients. Sure, eco-friendly paint is still but a fraction of the overall paint sold today, the trend is growing steadily. Consider being a part of it!

If you liked that Ideabook on sustainable measures around the home, take a look at this one too: Eco houses

Do you have any other handy hints or tips for our readers? Let us know in the comments below!
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