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Living Green


Take a few moments to consider your daily routine. Did you get up this morning and take a shower? Did you head for the kitchen,then turn on the kettle and boil water for coffee? Did you drive to work? Did you turn on a computer? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you've consumed natural resources and the products or services derived from them. Have your considered the impact of your lifestyle on our environment?

Take a few moments to consider your daily routine. Did you get up this morning and take a shower? Did you head for the kitchen,then turn on the kettle and boil water for coffee? Did you drive to work? Did you turn on a computer? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you've consumed natural resources and the products or services derived from them. Have your considered the impact of your lifestyle on our environment?

Scientists say that we currently use about 30% more resources annually than what is sustainable for our planet. Our demands have doubled over the past 5o years. A report by Living Planet in 2010 suggests that if changes are not made, humanity will need two planets by 2030.

Embracing a more sustainable lifestyle means using fewer resources and causing the least amount of environmental damage for future generations. Going green at home certainly doesn't mean that you have to forfeit all the benefits of piped water and electricity, but it does mean that you should take stock of your lifestyle. Besides being beneficial for our planet, going green can save you money going forward. Simple changes can have a big impact, not only on the environment, but also on your bottom line. Some changes you can make immediately—they are simple behaviour changes and they cost you nothing. Others require a small investment to see more benefits and savings. Products, like a solar water heater, require a larger initial investment for long-term benefits and larger savings. MI Living green Embrace a more sustainable lifestyle and you could help our planet while saving yourself some money. What can you do with a kilowatt hour? A kilowatt hour (kWh) is 1.000 watts of electricity used over a period of one hour.

8 ways to live a more sustainable life

1. Flick the switch Electricity costs have gone up considerably over the last few years, impacting seriously on the budgets of already cash-strapped consumers.The golden rule for saving electricity at home is if you are not using it, switch it off! Eskom says that lighting in the average South African home accounts for around 6% of the total electricity bill. By switching from the old incandescent bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs),you will use 80% less power for lighting. LEDS, although they are more costly initially, are the most energy efficient lamps. Source: Eskom Wash 1,5 loads of laundry Keep your fridge cold for 15 hours Microwave 16 meals Boil 6 kettles of water Iron 5 shirts Government supports the global deadline for the banning of incandescent bulbs by 2016. South Africa will be the first country in Africa to do so. In 2005, Cuba and Venezuela were the first countries in the world to ban these energy-hungry bulbs. Take a look at the rooms in your home. If you have a very dark room, hallway or passage area that often requires you to have the light on for most of the day, consider installing a skylight to allow more natural light into the room. If you have outdoor security lights, fit them with motion sensors.

2. Water heating Heating water to bath or shower accounts for around between 30 and 5o% of your monthly electricity bill. Solar Costs for full solar water heating systems have dropped in recent years.This is the most energy efficient way to heat water — using the free energy of the sun. A solar water heater can reduce your electricity consumption by up to 70%. A zoo-litre geyser replaced with a solar water heating system stops around 4.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere every year. Heat pumps While a heat pump does still use electricity, it is three times more energy efficient than an electrical element geyser, effectively saving you between 30 and 70% on your monthly bill. Heat pumps use the reverse cycle of refrigeration to heat water — heat from the air is transferred to the water. Tank sizes range from loo to 5oo litres, depending on what is required for your home. Geysers If you are not able to replace your electrical element geyser, run it smartly. Turn down the thermostat to 6o degrees. Insulate your geyser by using a geyser blanket — the first metre of the cold water inlet pipe and the first 1.5mm of the hot water outlet pipe. This slows down the cooling rate of the water, meaning that less electricity will be needed to reheat the water. Also manage your hot water usage. Use cold water to fill the kettle, Solar is the most energy efficient way to heat water THE HOME HANDYMAN I NOVEMBER 20141 13 SUSTAINABLE LIVING Zwelethu and Bulelwa Ngewana [and their family Image: My Green Home e wash your hands in cold water, run appliances when they are full and if clothing is not particularly dirty, select a cold water cycle on your washing machine. Switching off your geyser between 6pm and gpm can help reduce the load on the system. Always switch off the geyser when you go on holiday. Under-sink water heaters These are small water heating units that are installed under a basin or sink or next to a bath or shower cubicle.The water heater must be installed as close to the water supply as possible. The unit saves both water and electricity. No heat is wasted as the water travels down the pipes. Hot water is available as soon as you open the tap — no wasting cold water while waiting for the hot water flow.

3. Heating and cooling your home
We all dread those winter bills from the municipality. Using electric heaters means we are consuming far more electricity than usual — and we pay dearly for sitting in comfort. While the bills may be lower in the summer months, we still tend to seek reprieve from the heat by reaching for the aircon remote or running an electrical fan. Here are some tips for more sustainable ways to heat and cool your home: Do a check on the windows and doors of your home. Do you feel a breeze? Use weatherstripping tape to seal gaps around the windows and doors. This will not only stop cold air from entering your home, but also stop warm air from escaping. Insulate your roof. About 40% of heat is lost if your roof isn't insulated. In winter, dress warmly and use a hot water bottle instead of running an electric heater. Use your home's windows to their best advantage. In winter, open curtains of north facing rooms to let the sunlight in. Keep doors and windows closed. Open a few windows in the afternoon to let in some fresh air, then close up again before nightfall. Heavy curtains and blinds seal in the heat. In summer, close curtains or blinds on west facing windows to block out the hot afternoon sun.

4. Smart appliances and cookware
Older appliances can use plenty of electricity, so if you are in the market for a new fridge, dishwasher or washing machine, look for the energy rating of the product. My Green Home, led by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), says that in South Africa energy labels are optional for appliances manufactured here. Appliances without a label could be inefficient, so before you select it, ask the salesperson or use your smartphone to Google the model. The rating system in South African uses an A through G-rating — with A being the best for refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and electric ovens. Your old fridge may have a G-rating! Also check for water efficiency on dishwashers and washing machines. Good quality roof insulation makes your home around five degrees warmer in winter and around 1 degrees cooler in summer. Use a stove plate that matches the size of the pot so energy is not wasted Here are some guidelines for smarter use of your electrical appliances: When cooking, select a pot size that matches the size of the stove plate. Don't boil water on the stove — use a kettle and boil only the amount of water you need. If you have a tumble drier, use it only in emergencies. Dry your clothing using free solar energy on the washing line! Iron smartly! An iron consumes as much electricity as ten 100 watt light bulbs, so be selective when sorting what needs to be ironed. Underwear, pyjamas and sheets can be folded without ironing. Switch off the iron if you are called away during an ironing session. Replace a conventional oven with an energy efficient convection oven. Use the microwave to heat small quantities of food and use a slow cooker or pressure cooker for preparing soups and stews. Turn off appliances you are not using. Your -11/ and DVD players still draw electricity in standby mode.Turn them off at the switch.

Meet the Ngewanas
Log on to za to meet the Ngewanas, a South African family changing their home for the better and hoping to change the world! Their journey towards a more sustainable life started in February 2014 and continued to the end of August 2014. The Ngewanas not only installed energy efficient and green equipment, but also learned how to change their daily habits, not only to save money, but also to save the earth. Zwelethu Ngewana said that the goal for the project was to cut the family's electricity consumption by 15% with 'no cost' changes and take it to 40% with equipment changes in three months. The family also concentrated on reducing their water consumption by 20% and aiming to recycle 75% of their waste. They are challenging other South African families to join them. All webisodes are available on the website, each with a different 'green' theme. Watch them for tips and advice on greening your own home. My Green Home is led by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), with main co-funding from the German government through the South African German Energy Programme (SAGEN). It is also supported by the 49M campaign, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and a range of product sponsors and partner organisations.

5. Save water
Using water more sparingly in the home is one of the easiest ways to save money. Here are a few easy ways to drop your water consumption: Attend to water leaks quickly. Leaks can waste hundreds of litres per month. If you have a leaking tap, check and replace the seal. If this doesn't solve the problem, you will need to replace the tap. Also check toilet cisterns for small leaks that may go undetected. Fill up your dishwasher and washing machine before running the load. If you wash dishes by hand, use a half filled sink or plastic basin for rinsing, don't run the tap. Don't rinse fruit and vegetables under running water either. A five-minute shower uses less water than a bath. Install a water saving shower head.The average head uses about 25 litres of water per minute compared to nine litres of water for a water saving head. If you wash your car at home, place a few buckets under the gutter downpipe and harvest rainwater to wash the car. Never use the hosepipe. Teach your children to turn offthe tap when they brush their teeth. If you have an older toilet cistern (about 12 or 13 litres per flush) in your home, consider replacing it with a low flush system.The new Lecico dual-flush toilet uses as little as 2.4 litres per flush. If you have a swimming pool, use a pool cover to limit water evaporation and keep your pool cleaner. You'll save money on water and electricity. Don't miss our articles on reusing grey water and harvesting rainwater on pages 22 and 18. Replace your shower head with a water saving one SUSTAINABLE LIVING The Trio PedalPush Home Recycling Bin from Postwink has three removable plastic liners which can be used for three different types of waste. Image My Green Home 8. Go solar You may not be able to take your home completely off-grid, but you can still enjoy free energy from the sun with some of the solar powered equipment on the market, from solar garden lights and indoor lighting to solar cell phone chargers, solar cookers and fridges. A solar panel on your roof can be used to heat your pool and give you a longer swimming

6. Plant a vegetable garden
One simple way to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle is to start producing your own food. Smart planting through the seasons will give you a steady crop for the family table. Once you have marked out your vegetable patch and removed grass and weeds from the areas, prepare the soil well before planting. Include compost and organic fertilisers and dig over the bed very well. You can either grow your vegetables from seeds or you can plant out seedlings purchased from your local nursery. In order to grow an organic crop, you must carefully choose organic fertilisers and avoid chemical pesticides.There are various natural products on the market to keep unwanted garden visitors at bay (see also page 38). Practise companion planting, the age-old practice of planting complementary plants alongside each other to naturally deter pets. Use mulch around your plants to help keep the soil moist. You can also start a simple worm farm using red wriggler earthworms. This doubles as a way to compost your vegetable peelings and the earthworm castings 'tea' provides a rich, natural fertiliser for the soil.

7. Recycle, recycle, recycle!
How much trash do you place on your kerbside every week for collection by your municipality? You can reduce the number of bags going into your local landfill by recycling those products that can be remanufactured to make new products. Glass, plastic, cans and paper are all items that can be recycled. A simple way to start recycling is to split your trash when you throw it away. Have a box or bin for plastic and glass items. Vegetable peelings can be composted or fed to worms in a worm bin. For homes in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Pretoria, MPact Recycling offers kerbside collection for paper. Place old magazines and newspapers, cereal boxes, old telephone directories, used school books and other paper products in your Ronnie Bag and place it at the kerb on your suburb's collection day. You can also deposit your paper in a Ronnie Bank. Find one in your area at To find a glass bank in your area, visit and click on 'Find a glass bank'. Sources: Eskom, Rand Water, My Green Home (

Install solar powered garden lights

Travel and transport

How much are you spending on transport costs every month? By using your vehicle in a smarter way, you can save money and help the environment. Buy a bike and ride to work. Logistically, this will only be practical if you live close to the office, but it does have added benefits — you'll be getting more exercise, which means that you're likely to be fit and lose weight. If you can't ride to work, consider investing in a bike for your health — you can save on fuel with short trips in your local area, like to the supermarket. Ask around the office and see who lives in your area. Most of us drive to work on our own. Starting a car pool will not only save you money on fuel, but it will also reduce costs on the wear and tear of your vehicle. Everyone in the car pool can contribute and you can switch vehicles every week.

Drive smartly.

Your car's condition, age and your driving style all contribute to how efficiently your vehicle uses fuel. Service your car regularly and make sure your tyres are properly inflated. If you are in the market for a new car, do plenty of research before settling on a make and model. Check the fuel economy and carbon emissions of the vehicle.