Sustainable dwelling: 5 pieces of advice for caring for the environment
Interest in the environment and for adopting a healthy lifestyle has grown exponentially in recent decades. One of its reflections is the appearance of bioclimatic architecture, which draws on natural resources such as vegetation, rainfall, wind and sun to build sustainable dwellings.
The popularity of efficient homes and the fact that architects and builders have wagered on this form have made it more fashionable than ever and at the same time have brought it within reach of all pockets. Amongst other advantages, their characteristics allow savings on the electricity, water and gas bills and avoid respiratory problems and allergies thanks to the materials used. And although there are dwellings that are 100% sustainable from their foundations, it is also possible to give an ecological touch to your house by including some of the technological developments associated with sustainable dwellings. A few examples of these are:
- Solar panels or domestic wind turbines. By installing these, you can produce your own ecological energy and use it to power electrical appliances and also, in the first case, create your own heating system or heat the water in the dwelling. These are two systems that are compatible and simple, with good options on the market, and which offer a double benefit: you will pollute less and you will save on your bills.
- Rainwater tanks. These are easy to install. With them, you can collect the rainwater to use it for questions related to cleaning: washing machine, dishwasher, floors, car, etc. or to water your plants. In recent years, the market has even brought out tanks that imitate stone walls, columns or amphorae, such as those marketed by the Spanish company Sunbox.
- Domestic robotics. Technology applied to the household is another of the elements that can make your life easier, more comfortable and safer. Its application focuses on four areas: comfort, energy savings, communications and personal safety. Control and programme the movements of the blinds at dawn and dusk, choose the temperature for each of the rooms in the house, use a mobile device to see the main rooms, be alerted and receive a photograph if movement is detected at certain times, etc.
Endless possibilities ranging from the most basic packs created by technology brands like Leotec, with a starters’ module for a little over 100 euros and which can be extended, to a complete project developed by companies such as Loxone, and which end up turning the house into a true ‘smart home’.
The economic cost associated with these installations cannot be considered an expense in any case, but rather an economic investment. It will also allow you to save a considerable amount of money each month, so little by little you will recover its cost. These systems also considerably increase the market value of the building.
There are also a series of habits that can help you to create a sustainable dwelling; these need hardly any effort and you will gain a double benefit from them. Firstly you will reduce the size of the bills. Secondly, you will reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions sent into the atmosphere through daily activities. These are some of the habits that can make your flat or chalet efficient at hardly any expense:
- Good isolation for the house is fundamental. The doors and windows are the main places where heat gets out in the winter and comes in in the summer. The best solution is to have quality frames and windows, preferably double glazed. A very effective measure is to put draft excluders on the frames and rollers at the bottom of doors, and especially the front door to the house, and the material may be bought very cheaply at large DIY centres.
- Using the sun’s energy is also essential. In the winter, it is recommendable to lift the blinds at times of great light in order to naturally warm up the dwelling. In the summer, by contrast, the key is to keep the blinds down and the windows closed at the times of most sun, to avoid the interior of the house heating up and obliging the use of fans or air conditioning to keep the indoor temperature down.
- The temperatures which you maintain in the dwelling in the hot and cold months are also important. In the winter, it is sufficient to programme the heating within a range of 19º-21º. In the summer, 25º. If you can also adjust the temperature of the hot water in house, the best figure is 35º.
- LED Bulbs are little more expensive than traditional light bulbs, but they last much longer (up to 70,000 hours of operation) with minimal consumption. It is also recommendable to completely turn off televisions, video consoles and other electrical apparatuses that have a standby function, because they continue to use energy in this state; approximately 14% of what they consume when they are on.
- When renewing the electrical appliances in the house, the best thing is for you to go for low consumption items, with class A energy certifications. These are little more expensive, but consume much less energy and pay for themselves in a few years. For instance, A++ electrical appliances reduce electricity expenditure by 80%. Each kilowatt of electricity used by the household electrical appliance sends 400 grams of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.