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Found 14 results

  1. Eco-Friendly Home Renovation

    After a while, every home could use some updating and freshening up, whether to match your needs better or simply to make it look more visually appealing. This is especially true if you are happy in your home and are planning on living in it for many more years. Although some eco-friendly renovation projects require quite an investment, you can rest assured that those investments would be worth it. Plus, there are many both affordable and eco-friendly ways to renovate, and here are some you should consider. Buy energy-efficient appliances If you’re planning on replacing your old kitchen appliances, look for those that are energy-efficient. You can recognize them by the Energy Star logo on them. Larger kitchen appliances, like refrigerators, for example, can use quite a lot of energy, which means that they can also cost you a lot and for a long time. This is why investing in energy-efficient appliances – even though it might cost a bit more initially – can save you money in the long run. Donate everything you no longer need If there’s an item that you’re thinking about replacing, and you won’t need it anymore, don’t throw it away. You can always give it to charity, or you might even have a friend who could use it. Moreover, there are many organizations that welcome such items, like Habitat for Humanity, for instance. In short, there are ways not just to be eco-friendly with your unwanted items but to actually give back to the community as well. Use recycled materials Using recycled materials for your renovation, like reclaimed wood, would help reduce waste. Plus, it would preserve nature simply because there would be no need to cut any trees. Plus, there are many salvaged materials that are both durable and visually appealing, so nobody would even notice that your new item is made of recycled materials. For example, bio-glass looks just like any other “new” glass, but it’s completely eco-friendly, which makes it a perfect choice. Renew instead of replacing You don’t need to replace everything in order to upgrade the appearance of your home. For example, instead of buying new kitchen cabinets, you could simply repaint them and replace only the knobs. Plus, even small changes can make a difference; you can switch one wooden cabinet door with a glass door. It would emphasize the items you keep in that cabinet, and it would make your kitchen look much more interesting. Repaint If you’re thinking about repainting your home, make sure to use VOC-free paint. VOC, or volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that can evaporate and harm your health. Also, if you’re planning on repainting your exterior, keep in mind that safety comes first, especially if you’re doing it on your own. Therefore, think about getting some quality scaffolding so you can paint the upper parts of your house without using uncomfortable and unsafe ladders that you’d have to move every few minutes. Moreover, if you can’t afford to repaint your entire exterior, think about repainting just your front door, your house numbers, and perhaps your mailbox. It would spice up the appearance of your home, and it would definitely give it a new feel overall. Insulate If insulation is a part of your renovation project, make sure to choose a high-quality one. The better insulated your home is, the less energy you will use on heating and cooling it. In other words, it would definitely pay off sooner than you might think. Just don’t forget to do your research on the eco-friendly insulation options, since the insulation itself is not the only possible eco-friendly aspect of the project. Make use of the sun Going solar is a great way to make your home more eco-friendly. Besides preserving the environment, using solar energy can also reduce your electricity bill. However, you should know that there are ways to use the power of the sun that don’t include spending money on solar panels. For example, you can plant seasonal trees in your yard, which would block the sunlight in the summer but let it through during winter. Or, you could add smart blinds and heat-reducing films to your windows. Add skylights Another great way to make use of the sun is adding some skylights in order to let more natural light into your home. Of course, you don’t have to install them in every room of your home; you can place them in the most commonly used areas, like your kitchen or living room. Just don’t forget to install automated blinds as well, so you can block the sun when needed. If you place them correctly and use them to the fullest, skylights could also help you reduce the amount of electricity you need. If you’re looking for a way to renovate your home while preserving the environment at the same time, consider some of the above-listed suggestions. You would feel much better about yourself, knowing that you’re making a difference, and you’d save some money in the long run as well.
  2. As you drive through your neighborhood, you may notice a few yards that have been beautifully designed and immaculately maintained. When you compare these yards to your own, you may feel as though your home is woefully inadequate. Dressing up your curb appeal can seem like a major undertaking, but the task can be simplified with gorgeous results when you follow a few easy steps. Create a Plan Before you make any changes to your yard, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Your plan should identify all of the current problem areas. It also should take into account visibility of the home from the street level, your budget, ongoing maintenance needs and more. When it comes to landscaping, there are times when less is more. Do not feel as though you need to have elaborate features to have a beautiful space. A detailed plan can guide your efforts and can prevent you from second-guessing your decisions. Add Color One of the primary differences that you may notice between your yard and the yard of others in your neighborhood is the matter of color. Many bushes, shrubs and tree leaves are a relatively standard shade of green. To dress up your curb appeal, you need to think outside the norm and incorporate color. Seasonal color can come from flowering plants, but you also need color throughout the year to enjoy lasting results. You can add a few layers of vegetation that have substantially lighter or darker shades of green, touches of yellow or even deep purple to address your color issue. Cover the Dirt Another common challenge that homeowners face is dirt. A beautiful yard does not have any dirt or mud-riddled areas. Instead, the flower beds are mulched regularly. Any areas where foliage is too think for grass to grow or where the grass has been downtrodden, specialty rocks or pebbles can be added. For example, you can add a pebbled pathway that leads up to your home. Remember that rocks and pebbles can also add color to your yard. Your yard can affect your property value, the pride of ownership of other important factors. If your yard is a source of embarrassment right now, take action to improve the situation. Spend ample time planning out your landscaping approach through a company like Purdy Topsoil & Gravel before you get started, and ensure that you have a healthy budget that gives you funds to complete all aspects of your landscape remodeling project.
  3. It's difficult to avoid coming into contact with toxic chemicals. They're used routinely by homeowners and gardeners to perform lawn care and landscaping tasks, clean home interiors and exteriors, eradicate pests, maintain or protect surfaces inside and outside the home, and maintenance the family vehicles. Most suburban homeowners' garages contain caches of toxic chemicals; if you have a garage, yours probably does, too. Do you ever worry about what could happen if your kids come into contact with the chemical products you have stored in your home or garage? How about your pets -- what could happen if they were to interact with your chemical stash? Each year, pets die from exposure to and / or ingestion of toxic chemicals including pesticides, antifreezes and cleaners. For the sake of your children, your animals, your own health and your environment, we encourage you to consider implementing these 4 strategies to go greener around the house. Replace Your Chemical-Based Household Cleaning Solutions With Green Alternatives Does it make sense to use toxic or questionable chemicals for cleaning your home when many household cleaning tasks can be performed with natural, non-toxic and completely affordable ingredients? You can clean almost anything using combinations of simple ingredients such as water, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, tea tree oil, lemon juice, lemon oil, orange oil, and Borax. If you prefer to use fancier household cleaning aids, look for certified organic products including soaps, sprays, detergents and cleaners. Substitute Natural Oils for Varnishes and Polyurethane Products Chemical-based products such as polyurethane aren't your only choice for sealing hardwood floors or finishing home furnishings made of wood. Safer, greener substitutes include walnut oil and tung nut oil. Get Rid of Your Toxic Chemical-Based Pesticides and Lawn Care Products There's no need to treat your lawn or garden with toxic chemicals. There are abundant organic alternatives, like the products found at Nature Safe, that can keep your landscape looking healthy, lush, fertile and gorgeously green. These sustainable alternatives include organic lawn fertilizers and organic pest control products with natural ingredients. Look for OMRI-approved organic landscaping fertilizers to find third-party verified solutions offering the best results. Utilize Natural Pet Care Products Instead of Chemical Ones It's important to ensure your pet's flea and tick control methods are not harmful. This is particularly critical if you have cats or kittens. You should never apply toxic chemicals directly on a cat's fur; your cat will consume the poisons as he grooms himself, and it could end up harming or killing him quickly. Dogs are not immune from harm caused by flea and tick medications either. There are many effective natural alternatives to toxic chemical flea and tick medications. Most of them are cheaper than chemical treatments you buy at your vet's office or at the drug store. If you live in a coastal area, simply taking your dog to the beach and dunking him in the salt water will rid him of fleas. It's a free treatment that's surprisingly effective for those who are able to take advantage of nearby beach areas. If you'd rather treat your dog or cat for fleas at home, spritzing his fur with raw, unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar is another effective remedy. Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits for your pet, and it can reduce or eliminate the parasite population living in his fur if used regularly. These are 4 of the most important things you can do to rid your garage and home of toxic, hazardous chemicals to create a safer and greener environment for your family. Even implementing one or two of these strategies can make a significant difference in your family's health; for best results, we encourage you to consider implementing all of these things in order to truly go green around the house.
  4. Keeping a home up to date and preserved can be a pricey endeavor for any homeowner. From lawn care and utility costs to regular maintenance and repairs, taking care of a home takes a lot of work and money. Make sure you're not overpaying for unnecessary expenses as you do these tasks. Here are some ideas to save more money on your home energy costs and keep your home running smoothly. Seal Up Any Leaks Leaky windows and doors can let your air conditioning escape in the summer, and let in icy breezes during the winter. Consider replacing any windows that are beyond repair and add a weather seal to those that can be fixed. Put weather stripping around leaky doors to seal out bad weather as well. Insulating your house is the best way to keep your heating and cooling bills lower. Adjust Your Water Heater Temperature Most people need their water heater kept really hot during the winter, but many forget that they don't need those hot temperatures when the weather outside gets warm again. Consider lowering the temperature of your water heater to save significantly on electricity costs. Most likely, you won't even notice the temperature difference. Get a Programmable Thermostat Keeping your home set to one temperature can be wasteful, especially if your house sits empty all day. Get a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature during hours you know you won't be home. When you're gone at work, set the thermostat to drop the temperature a few degrees, and program it to bump the temperature back up shortly before you return home. If this is a project you don't feel comfortable tackling on your own, consider hiring professionals to install these systems for you. Little changes can make a big difference on your utility bills bottom line. Get Energy Efficient Appliances As your appliances break down, replace them with energy efficient models. You can even shop for the most energy fficient models by comparing the annual energy use on the yellow energy guide tags. Modern appliances are required to be more energy efficient, as well as water efficient. Even if the new appliance is slightly more expensive, it will save you on your monthly utility costs. Swap Out Light Bulbs Incandescent light bulbs can use up to ten times as much electricity as newer, low energy bulbs. Multiply that usage by every light bulb in your home, and you'll see how quickly your electricity usage can add up. Talk to an Electricity Match professional to see other ways where your home might be lacking in efficiency. They can even Compare Electricity Rates for you to help you make the best decision for your house. Maintaining a home can cost a lot of money, but you can keep home maintenance costs down by being smart with your utility usage. Follow the tips above to minimize your utility waste and get the most bang for your buck out of your utility bill.
  5. Owning a home means sometimes your place will get fairly messy. You need a routine cleaning schedule to ensure the general protection of your home and family and maintenance to keep things preserved. As a greater emphasis has been placed on being environmentally friendly, people have begun to understand the need for a greener way to clean. Countless products exist that make this task simple, and most of the ingredients are probably already in your home. Here are some simple ways to get your house spiffy and still be kind to the earth. Craft an All-Purpose Cleaner The name of these ingredients speak for themselves by being safe to use on virtually anything, but there is also a multitude of ingredients that can be used in these cleaners, and each of them serves a different purpose. A common mixture includes mixing 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with a drop of liquid soap and two cups of hot water. This mixture only takes on the odor of the soap and works to abate growing bacteria, caked on dirt, and is a great way to clean bathroom stains. The base of this cleaner allows for the incorporation of other important green items, like vinegar, as the acidity of the liquid kills all types of bacteria, ultimately making it ideal for kitchens and bathrooms. One Simple Fruit with Endless Possibilities Whether they are squeezed to make a drink, used to leave a house smelling fresh, or made into a heavy-duty cleaner, lemons are always a good idea. The acidity of a lemon works as a bleaching agent which makes it ideal for laundry, washing white surfaces and breaking down areas that collect a lot of germs like kitchen counters. Squeezing two lemons into a spray bottle with one tablespoon of baking soda makes for a profound, eco-friendly bleach. If you desire the fragrance to be more potent, though, consider reducing the baking soda to 1/2 tablespoon. Aside from mimicking a bleach, lemons are rich with citrus flavonoids which are powerful components that fight free radicals from entering the body. When used in rooms of the home where germs are the most concentrated, this cleaner guarantees a home free of sickness, disease, and even insects. Invest in an Energy Efficient Vacuum Cleaner Sometimes sweeping is not sufficient enough to rid your floor of debris and a broom is unable to reach every corner of a room. As a result, investing in a quality vacuum is essential to keep things truly dirt free. Some of the best Central Vacuum models are quiet, save energy, and have the ability to reuse the bags. The necessary power does the trick without straining valuable natural resources. For the Living Room: Corn Meal and Olive Oil People with children understand that spills are part of everyday life, but few cleaners exist that will remove the mess without harming playing children or pets. From the carpet to furniture, a natural, non-toxic cleaner is needed; this is where corn meal and olive oil are able to work their magic. Olive oil rubbed on a rag acts as a powerful furniture polish that will leave tables, chairs, and wood floors looking brand new. Corn meal on the other hand, acts as a powerful absorption tool that effortlessly lifts spills off of carpets and other fabrics. In sum, green cleaners are not only beneficial for the environment and the safety of your home and family, but work wonders on a household budget. All of the ingredients used in green cleaning are often already in the pantry or fridge and if they are not, they are easily attainable at stores throughout the world.
  6. If you're like most people, many of the habits you formed as a child remain second nature to you as an adult. Consequently, as a responsible parent, helping your children form their own positive habits is something you have to think about daily. When caring for the environment is concerned, the habits and thoughts kids have now can forever shape the way the earth holds up. Here are a few eco-friendly habits worth passing along to the next generation. Buying Products with Green Credentials Besides reducing harm to the planet's delicate balance, buying eco-friendly products encourages corporations to clean up their act. Involve your children in purchasing decisions for everything from LED light bulbs, to phosphate-free dish soap. Explain to them why you're avoiding products with certain substances and making a statement with your wallet. Recycling Appliances & Materials Wisely There's more to recycling than separating aluminum cans from plastic bottles. Finding a quality recycling company that can properly handle more problematic refuse like PCs, TVs, and smartphones is the key to eco-friendly recycling. Bring the kids along when you take in your recyclables to get them familiar with the process. You should also use companies like Ware Disposal to help get you on a regular cleanup and pickup schedule. Scheduling Activities to Reduce Energy Usage If you're a savvy consumer, you know that energy waste can be easily curtailed with a little forethought. Plotting routes using Google Maps to reduce unnecessary car trips can eliminate literally tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Show your kids the ropes by setting a forward-thinking example in everyday scenarios and kill two birds with one stone by helping lower energy and waste as well as your bills. Considering Potential Environmental Impacts Nearly everything we do affects the environment in some way. Demonstrate the importance of making those effects positive by involving children when undertaking a landscaping or home renovation project. If you're a city dweller without a yard, start a balcony garden and educate your kids on the importance of cultivating non-invasive plant species. Going with the Local Option When Possible As you should know by now, transporting goods from one end of the world to the other generates a ton of carbon dioxide. Buy local products instead to cut back on emissions and get started by creating a compost heap with your kids rather than buying commercial topsoil for your organic garden. How to Make Those Teachable Moments Count Getting your children on the green bandwagon isn't terribly difficult. Focus on areas that interest each child so that green life lessons don't seem like homework. Parcel out tidbits of wisdom gradually so that they have a chance to sink in. If you keep things light and take your time, kids will form eco-friendly habits that last a lifetime.
  7. 8 Ways To Go Green At Home

    As everyone is talking about the climate changes, global warming and sustainability, it seems like all “passionate” supporters of the green idea are just talking, but they lack action. But I’m happy that you want to take action and change things for good. If you want to live in a greener, cleaner planet, remember that any change begins within ourselves. Limit your environmental impact, live a healthier life and save money by following these simple steps. 1. Forget about bottled water. Instead, buy water filters to clean tap water. When on the go, opt for a reusable bottle, preferably aluminium one. 2. Borrow. Go to the library and borrow the books you want to read, instead of buying them from the bookstore. 3. Make your own natural cleaners: Usually all the ingredients you need are vinegar, baking soda, lemon and soap. When choosing a cleaning company, hire the one that uses bio detergents in the cleaning process. This company, for instance, works with natural, eco-friendly detergents. 4. Get out of the car. Reduce the harmful exhaust emissions by walking or cycling to work. In addition to the saved money, you will also improve your health and reduce the risk of obesity. 5. Save energy: Turn your thermostat down a few degrees in the winter and increase the temperature a few degrees in the summer. This way you will save money on heating and cooling. Replace the old incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones. Unplug appliances when not being used, or buy "smart" power strips. They feel when appliances are off and eliminate "phantom" energy use. Instead of machine drying, hang the laundry on a clothesline or on a drying rack. Improve the insulation, install solar panels, upgrade the windows. 6. Save water: Invest in a low-flow showerhead. Take shorter showers, bathe with warm, not hot water. In the garden, grow native plants which require few and far between waterings. 7. Use reusable shopping bags. Put one in your handbag, at home, on your desk, in the car, or any place where it would be useful. 8. Buy smart: Look in thrift stores, garage sales and consignment shops for clothing and furnishings. Buy in bulk. Save on packaging and money. Invest in high-quality products. Paying more now means less frequently replacing of household items, clothes, appliances, etc. Resources: Worldwatch.org
  8. Build your own low-energy, sustainable dwelling using nothing but a mallet and a drill. Four people are needed to assemble the first WikiHouse kit, which is now released and free to download and buy in the UK. Print and build a beautiful timber house, customized to your own needs! And the most important is, people won't have to spend their whole lives paying mortgages. Even me, an employee of this small housekeeping agency, can afford to build a house like this. The WikiHouse Studio, displayed on the pictures here, can be purchased for only £14,500! The basic type of housing can usually be erected by a team of amateurs in 1-2 days. Depending on the project and the design, the other building elements can vary, but it usually takes a total cutting time of 4 weeks and a construct time of 2 weeks. The WikiHouse project is happening thanks to the collaboration of many designers and architects, whose main objective was to create a DIY kit for a timber house which could be constructed by everyone. Various types of buildings can be constructed, like guest or granny houses, tourism cabins, kiosks and small houses which can be grouped around a common facility like a BBQ, a pool or a shared kitchen. Graham Osborne is the principal of Origen Architects in Queensland, and he is the coordinator of this project. He said that the combination of numerous sustainable elements makes this design suited for “the worst case scenario” and he is confident that it will work well no matter the location, weather conditions and climate. The Australian project’s engineering consultant Arup ensures that each WikiHouse meets the building code requirements, as well as both bushfire rating and cyclone rating requirements. Each WikiHouse is made of timber walls and a system of timber cassettes for flooring, OSB cladding and entry beams. Each element of the kit weighs less than 80 kilos, which means that you don’t need a special machinery to lift it, just a few buddies of yours. The houses are designed to sit on stumps and thereby the need for a concrete slab and in-ground fortifications is avoided. The timber cassettes provide a good thermal isolation too. You can download the open source plan from the WikiHouse website, where you can also learn more about their mission, technology, different designs and the annual, locally-held workshops.
  9. Did your last energy bill take you by surprise? Yes? And you thought your home was energy efficient. So the best choice you have in order to avoid unpleasant surprises of that particular type is to singlehandedly assess your home's energy efficiency. You can run some tests and see for yourself what you have to do in order to make make your house more energy efficient. If you do, you'll not only save money on electricity bills, you'll also be ensuring your personal safety and the safety of your home. Look for Air LeaksSo to start with, first check your house for any air leaks (drafts). These drafty areas fail to keep warmth inside during the winter months and respectively, the cool air in the summer. Fixing these problems can help you save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each year and on top of that will make your home much more comfortable. Begin by checking for air leaks near windows, doors and vents. If you find any you can easily take care of them yourself by simply airsealing around doors and resealing the caulking on your windows. Make sure you check your flooring and vents as well as all outside areas where different materials meet. Replace Inefficient LightingMost people don't know that, but around 10 percent of your electricity bill is due to lighting charges. So if you still haven't replaced your old incandescent light bulbs, it's high time you did. You can opt for the spiral compact flourescent lamps (CFLs), or the so-called LEDs – light-emitting diodes. They are a bit more expensive than your ordinary bulbs, but are a much better investment because they last a lot longer. Something more, they also let off more delicate light and use less energy, which is another plus and significantly contributes to the return on your investment. Large Household Appliances InspectionAn important step towards making your home more energy efficient and reducing your electricity bills is inspecting your household appliances. The surest sign something's not right with a device would be the loud noises coming out of it and its impaired efficiency. To lighten the workload of some devices, prolong their lifespan and save up on energy, you might want to consider: Buying new and more energy-efficient home appliances with the Energy Star label. It might seem a bit on the expensive side but in the long run the investment will pay off, especially if you take good care of the new device.Switching off or unplugging items from the power grid when you aren't using them. Unplugging them will prevent the so-called vampire draw or phantom loads which refers to the consumed by your appliances electricity when they're in switched off.Regular Air Filter ReplacementReplacing your air filters can also go a long way towards making your home more energy efficient. Ultimately, you should replace the air filters of your ventilation on a monthly basis. Otherwise the debris and dust in the air system will impair the airflow and cause the system's capacity to go down. As a consequence, it will need more energy to heat/cool your house. The regular air filter maintenance also means that no dust and debris will fall out of the vents. So you're saving money on both energy and house cleaning services. Insulation CheckupIn the last few months Melbourne, and Australia as a whole, saw some scorching heats. So if you want to stay cool this summer you better check the insulation of your house. Otherwise, given today's energy prices, the cool loss during the hot summer and the heat loss in winter will make your energy bills skyrocket.
  10. Asbestos was very popular between the '40s and the '80s for its resistance to fires, insulating capability, as well as its durability. Homes that were constructed after 1990 are unlikely to have any products containing asbestos, but if your home was built before that year, then it is highly likely that most products used in its construction did contain this harmful substance. While the presence of asbestos in the home does not necessarily pose a risk to health and safety, it is nonetheless important to know how to manage if it does become a problem over time. Here are some ways in which to manage asbestos problems in the home. 1. Check the condition of the asbestos-containing material. When suspecting an asbestos problem in the home, the first thing that should be done is to do an ocular inspection. Check the condition of the material that contains the harmful substance, and see if it’s still in intact. If it looks to be in good shape and have little possibility of being disturbed, then there’s no need to do anything – at all. Moving or attempting to repair any asbestos material that is otherwise in good condition can only disturb the asbestos in it. 2. Repair or Remove If you’ve determined that there is a problem, then it can either be repaired or removed. A repair can either mean covering or sealing the asbestos material. Covering involves positioning something around or over the material in order to prevent it from releasing asbestos fibers, while sealing or encapsulation usually involves the use of a sealant to treat and coat the material so that fibers cannot be released. Doing a repair is a quick and cheaper way of managing an asbestos problem, albeit temporarily. On the other hand, removing the asbestos material can be costly, but it does have the advantage over a repair as this totally eliminates it from the home for good. Whether you opt to repair or remove the asbestos material, both cases should be handled by a professional with asbestos safety training and certifications. 3. When in doubt, always call a professional. It may be difficult to determine whether there is an asbestos problem in the home, or if it is even an asbestos-containing material to begin with. In such cases, avoid trying to manage the situation yourself – call a professional. As an added precaution, never sweep, dust, or vacuum any debris that may contain asbestos as this would disturb and release tiny asbestos fibers into the air. Once inhaled, these could lodge onto the surfaces of the lungs, and cause serious diseases – most notably cancer. Don’t risk it - call in a professional to do the disposing.
  11. The Main Features of a Green Home

    Green, sustainable building is conquering the world of architecture. It’s no wonder - building homes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient is rewarding on many levels. By building homes that are “green” you’re minimizing impact on both people’s health and the natural environment. Image Credit: GJ Gardner What are the main characteristics of a green home? To begin with, it is a building that efficiently uses natural resources and alternative sources of energy. It is a home that preserves the health of its occupants and helps in reducing pollution, waste and environmental degradation. Let’s see what every green home must include in order to be a true, eco-friendly building. Materials used in green building Whenever we build, there has to be some sort of environmental cost. We often use natural materials and expendable energy resources uncontrollably. People think that using only wood, for example, will immediately make their house or lodge sustainable, but this is far from the truth. The first and the most important rule when it comes to materials is: always use sustainable, local materials that are recycled or recyclable. This often means reusing existing materials and reducing waste. Timber can be used in green building too, if it’s locally and sustainably sourced and FSC-certified. Also, the more processed the material is, the more energy was spent (embodied) to produce it. Therefore, green homes should be constructed from materials that have low embodied energy. Alternative forms of concrete are always a better option than conventional concrete, the production of which is responsible for high carbon emissions. Sometimes, even materials we consider “junk” can be used in the construction of a green home: tires, bottles, cans, materials left over from the pre-existing building, etc. Wood from fast growing trees (instead of hardwood), recycled stone, rammed earth, straw bale and mud brick are the traditional materials that most builders turn to nowadays. Clever design for an energy efficient home The design is another important factor in making a building “green”. Sustainable homes are smartly built – which means they are designed to last long, to fit the climate and use all the benefits their environment provides. Passive design almost always involves positioning homes in relation to the sun and shade to reduce the use of electricity. This can be done is several ways: by spatial zoning, orientation, ventilation, insulation, shading, glazing and using thermal mass. The house should be placed on a ground that receives a lot of sunlight in the winter, with large windows facing the sun and collecting “passive” solar power. Prevention of heat accumulation in the summer can be obtained by strategically placing trees, roof overhangs and horizontal slats. A well-designed floor plan can only help in achieving energy efficiency. Also, adding solar panels can save energy even more and make a building truly eco-friendly. Insulation Adding good insulation is a crucial thing in the building process - it is the most effective addition you can make to your home. Insulation, shading and waterproofing can save up to an amazing 45 percent on monthly energy bills.There are lots of insulation options. However, the top sustainable insulation materials are sheep wool, cotton, aerogel, polystyrene and icynene. We know that polystyrene doesn’t sound very “green”, but it’s an outstanding insulator that can be recycled. It brings structural integrity to walls and provides excellent thermal resistance. Wool fibers are perhaps the healthiest and most fire resistant insulation option. Water management A sustainable building must include water saving in addition to energy saving. An excellent way of saving water is rainwater harvesting – collection, filtration and use of rainwater. This reduces the need for main water supplies and can lead to significant economic and environmental benefits. Rainwater is collected in leak-proof tanks and can be used for many purposes. Image Credit: Wikimedia Swimming pools are big energy spenders and a real luxury in water scarce areas. Therefore, modern green homes feature increasingly popular natural pools and ponds. Water in such pools and ponds is cleaned with the help of plants and bacteria and no chemicals are used in the process. One of the steps in being a responsible water consumer includes using products and appliances that save water significantly. Your home must be equipped with adequate plumbing products, sanitary ware and white goods that use less water than others.
  12. If you are thinking about moving, you should consider being as eco-friendly as possible. There are many small things that you can do that will help the environment while making your move a simpler process. Enjoy using these tips whenever you are thinking about relocating your home. Share What You Have If you have a lot of items, you may consider donating some to charity so that you can rent a smaller moving truck. This will be a good choice for the environment, and you can feel good about donating items to help people that really need them. You can donate everything from clothing to furniture. Never Buy New Boxes There is no reason to buy new boxes to pack items when you can use boxes that have already been used. Check out your local grocery store or even a liquor store that may have plenty of boxes that you can have for free. You want to make sure that you pick out sturdy boxes and make sure that you have the bottoms of the boxes taped securely so that nothing falls out during the moving process. Be Creative with Packing Materials Instead of purchasing packing peanuts or bubble wrap to wrap your fragile household items in, be creative. You can wrap items in towels or shirt. You are going to be packing these items anyways, so using them to protect your breakable items is a good idea. You can also use old newspaper to wrap glass and other valuable items in so that they do not get broken during transit. Rent a Storage Unit We all have stuff that we don’t use but they have a certain sentimental value to us and getting rid of them is no option. When that is a case, finding long term local storage unit to store your belonging is a good solution. It will enable you to access them whenever you want and leave you with fever possessions that require less vehicles for transport – reducing your carbon footprint even further. Buy New Items If you are moving a long way away from your home, it may be more cost effective to buy new furniture and appliances. You can find many nice furniture items in your new location by visiting furniture stores or yard sales. You can often buy a nice looking piece of furniture that is gently used for less than the amount of money it would take to ship your old furniture to your new location. You can also invest in energy star appliances that are good for the environment and can help you save money on your energy bill each month. Find the Best Way to Move Your Items You have many different moving options to choose from depending on how far you are going to be traveling and how many items you are going to be bringing with you. You can rent a trailer and pull it behind your vehicle or rent a moving van or truck. If you need to, you can also hire a professional moving company. There are many companies out there that specialize in green moving techniques. You should take your time and enjoy finding the best moving solution for your specific needs. You want to find ways to move that are good for the environment. As added bonus, many eco-friendly solutions are also very affordable. You can enjoy saving money and having a safe moving experience at the same time. Image credit: Flickr - swanksalot
  13. Going green in your home does not mean you have to sacrifice luxury. There are plenty of green home products on the market that provide the same extravagance as their less green relatives. In the bathroom: There are hundreds of different kinds of environmental friendly bathroom products on the market, include a wide variety of candles. Some of them are made of beeswax or soy, and some are made of odd materials like vegetable wax. A lot of these candles provide relaxation and stress relief through the use of essential oils and extracts. Also for the bathroom are organic towels and cotton exfoliating gloves. All of these items offer just as much, if not more of the comfort that similar, traditional, non-green items would. Health and beauty: Among the green bathroom items commonly offered, there are also many different health and beauty products on the market. There are natural body washes, body butters, lip balms, salves, and foot cream. Ingredients in these products range from peppermint to aloe vera to lavender, and almost all of these products come in biodegradable containers. A majority of these items are just as luxurious as comparable environmentally harmful health and beauty products. For the bedroom: There are a variety of different green materials used for pieces in the bedroom. Some of the most popular examples are pillowcases and shams made out of bamboo, blankets made out of wool, and throws made out of fair-trade organic cotton. Among these items, there are also dressers and bed frames made out of sustainable resources such as maple. Energy: Many sources of renewable energy are available for purchase for the green home. Some of these products include LED lights, solar powered lights, and eco friendly solar powered holiday lights. There are also sun tunnel skylights that add natural light to your home and also provide heat. Crank lanterns and flashlights that charge by being shaken are examples of products that require no battery but work just as well as ones powered by battery. image credit: WB Homes Outside: A lot of the most useful products that are offered for green homes are for the outdoors. There are things like rain conserving barrels in a variety of materials and shapes, water filters for hoses that utilize the filtering powering of sand, and hoses made out of 50% recycled plastic. These sorts of items allow you to get the most out of natural resources and live a healthier and greener lifestyle. For the Kitchen: There are lots of green products available for the purpose of storing and transporting foods. Some examples of these items are compostable bamboo trays, soup containers, sandwich bags, and cling wrap. Many of these will work just as well as like, less-green products, but will not create all of the harmful waste. There are also plenty of kitchen cleaners that are non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Having a green home doesn’t mean you have to live any differently. There are alternatives for nearly every product you already use everyday that are much more environmentally friendly and sometimes, even better than the original. In most cases, going green will not even force you to change your lifestyle. There are actually many benefits, including better health and lower energy bills.
  14. Ideal homes are a matter of choice and personal taste. But for the average new Australian mom, an ideal home is one that is more spacious than the current home and still not unaffordably so. It has to be modern in all its fixtures and conveniences so that chores are easier with a baby to care for. It should have a sunny north facing daytime living area – as all homes should really - for the best use of natural light and lower utility bills. And it should be close enough to facilities like hospitals, daycare and other emergency services that living with a baby can often require. Image credits: APG Homes The Size of Your Ideal Home Most families in Australia today are of the average size of 2.6 (2006 figures). The size you want your family to be in the future is important in helping you choose your home. If you intend on having a family of two children, a 2-4 bedroom home with a living space will be suitable. But in the nursing years it is always a blessing to have room for the helpful relative or the sleep-deprived parent while the other parent is on the night-watch shift. Also note that while it's tempting to buy a larger home for your money, sometimes larger is not better. It will leave you with less garden space and more space to clean, light, heat, cool and furnish. This will add to your chores and costs for as long as you own the home. So, think about size carefully before buying a home before buying a home. What Your Ideal Home Should Look Like As a new mom, what you want your home to look like will depend on a number of things. Whether you want a condo apartment with its own modern conveniences or a detached or semi-detached townhouse is a matter of choice, cost and location. Whether you want a modern flat-roof home or a traditional pitched roof is again a matter of tastes and lifestyles. Gabled homes have a certain charm while flat roof homes are cheaper. On the flip side, flat roofs can be harder to maintain because water drainage is not as effective as in pitched roofs. On the inside, the walls should be baby-proof with washable paint so that growing toddlers and pre-teens can bring out their inner artists without causing a panic. The furniture should be as free of pointed corners and fragile glass as possible. Babies are bundles of energy, and you can't expect them to hold back for the sake of your furniture. Utilities and Conveniences of An Ideal Home If your home is built smartly with passive heating and cooling solutions, then you probably won't need a heating or cooling system in some areas. But in others, you can consider alternative power sources for your energy solution. Wind powered units or the areas that have access to geothermal energy such as Victoria are great places to locate your family home. Alternative energy sources will cut costs and make sure your home remains sustainable for you and your children for a long time into the future. Most mothers would want some basic appliances for convenience in their kitchens and bathrooms; a dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer are essentials. Safe induction or electric cooktops that are easier to clean are also a great modern option as opposed to gas-fueled cooktops that can create safety hazards for the family with toxic gases such as carbon monoxide. Also, don't forget that coffee machine for the desperate cup of morning coffee after a sleepless night of tending to colic pains! Other conveniences can include a toaster; a juicer for the healthy family, and surely most mothers would not pass up on a neat Jacuzzi in the bathroom to relax in at the end of an exhausting day.