‘Sustainability’ has become quite the buzzword in recent years. While some are happy to swap their plastic straws for metal straws and call it a day, others shudder at the prospect of yet another colour-coded bin to keep track of.
For most, sustainable living starts with making small, manageable changes in the home that are not only environmentally-friendly but will also save you money too. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Use energy efficient appliances
The easiest way to do this is to swap your conventional incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs. According to the US Department of Energy, LED or fluorescent lights are up to 80% more energy-saving and last 25 times longer than their conventional counterparts. So, while a little on the pricier side, they will save you money in the long run. For bigger appliances such as white goods and dishwashers, check the energy rating. In Australia, it is now mandatory that certain electrical appliances come with an energy rating – the more stars, the more energy/gas efficient the appliance is.
Go solar, and use it efficiently
Solar use is becoming increasingly popular, according to the City of Sydney we’ve installed over 23 million solar panels since 2001. Solar may not be as expensive as you think at around $1000 – $2000 per kilowatt installed, and national rebates are available. The sun’s rays are strongest during the day, run your energy-hungry appliances (such as the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer) while the sun is out to make the most of the energy generated.
Reduce water usage
When it comes to saving water installing low flow showerheads and taps can be a great way to decrease your water consumption and is relatively easy to implement. You could also install a rainwater tank to capture and store rainwater from your roof.
Create a compost bin
A study from the University of Washington found that food waste in landfills is one the leading causes of methane, but composting prevents decomposition, and thus reduces emissions. Many companies are now selling countertop compost bins equipped with odour filters.
Start your own herb or veggie garden
A great way to reduce food waste, your own herb garden saves you from buying a whole bunch of parsley when all you really need is a couple of sprigs. It’s also a great way to revitalise your backyard, or a sunny windowsill in the kitchen. Or, you can get involved with a local community garden. Rapidly increasing in popularity, communal local gardens offer the opportunity to grow and harvest your own produce, and are also a great way to connect with others in your community. There are a number of community gardens in the eastern suburbs including Coogee and Randwick.
Check your insulation
An average house loses a lot of heat during winter and cool air during summer due to poor insulation, which often leads to excess A/C usage to maintain the desired warm or cool temperature. Homeowners are recommended to arrange an inspection of their home’s insulation as least once a year. Installing window shades or double-glazed windows are also a great way of maintaining your home’s desired temperature.
While small, these changes can make all the difference in the long run. Your wallet and the environment will both thank you.