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The home eco-conversion journey


Make your home an energy efficient haven in six steps!

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” When Gandhi said these words, he probably wasn’t referring to our role in climate change, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s still relevant. If we want to protect our planet, then we need to start at home; we need to start with ourselves. So switch off the geyser and plant that veggie garden because it’s time to make the conversion from ordinary home to eco-home.

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Yes, home is where the heart is but it’s also where we – as individuals – can make the most difference when it comes to saving the planet. To help you begin this journey, we’ve listed six easy steps that will lower your carbon footprint and make your home more environmentally friendly.

Step One:

Recycle. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest ways to show that you care about the environment. Start by separating your plastic, paper, glass and metal into recycle bins and find out whether you can leave the refuse bags on your sidewalk for collection or if you need to drop them off somewhere. Then, do small things like reusing your shopping bags (or better yet, use material shopping bags), make the choice at the till to buy reusable and recyclable products like tins and glass jars and try to stick to things that have already been recycled (like the recycled maize bag cushions by Africa Ignite – LOVE).

RecycledmaizebagcushionsfromIgniteDesign

Step Two:

Grow your own veggie and herb garden. Not only is this a fun activity, it’s also a much cheaper way to get your greens in (have you seen the price for a head of broccoli lately?) Get your seedlings from a farmer’s market or nursery and then make use of the plethora of tutorials on the internet to get them growing. We recommend starting with easy-to-grow herbs and veggies like basil, chives, carrots, spinach and tomatoes.

Step Three:

Install a solar water heating system. Solar water heaters use energy from the sun to warm the water in your home through panels that are connected to a geyser or water storage tank. Although the initial cost is quite high, the long-term benefits make it worthwhile. First off, it will significantly reduce your monthly electricity bill (electric geysers contribute up to 50% towards that bill) and, secondly, it will reduce your energy consumption (better for you; better for the environment). If you can’t replace your electric geyser, then install a geyser blanket to insulate the water, even when the geyser is switched off (which you should be doing anyway).

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Step Four:

Change all conventional light bulbs to LED light bulbs. Light-emitting diode (LED) lights consume a fraction of the energy used by incandescent lights. They also last longer, don’t contain any toxic materials, can be recycled, emit little UV emissions and they’re a lot more durable. Need we say more?

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Step Five:

Make the change to gas. Gas stoves and ovens use a lot less power to get things cooking (see what I did there?) than conventional ovens. This means there’ll be a reduction in your electricity bill (yay) and you’ll enjoy faster cooking time (double yay), accurate cooking temperatures and of course, the ability to make tea when load shedding strikes (more important than pretty much anything else!).

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Step Six:

Install a water tank. This is great for minimising your impact on water resources as the tank captures rain water from gutters, which can then be used to flush toilets, fill the pool, water the garden and wash your clothing or car.

We’ve given you the steps, now it’s up to you to make the change.

Check out your carbon footprint here. Thanks to architect Klippie du Toit and design consultant Claire Brandon for their tips!

Mignon van Zyl
About me

Journalist, hiker and design enthusiast with a mild form of OCD and a love for storytelling. After completing my degree at Rhodes University, I moved to White River to work for a lifestyle magazine called Lowveld Living. Thanks to my job, I’ve visited some of the most glamorous game lodges and homes, met wonderfully weird but inspiring artists, fed and kissed a tame hippo, hiked the ‘sentinel of the Lowveld’ and realised my devotion to nature. Most happy when I’m writing, walking or road tripping.

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