Eco-friendly living needs to be practiced at home first. As we know, charity really begins at home! To lead a life that is not harmful to the environment, our homes need to be built in such a way that it causes least damage to the environment.
We can find out the eco-friendly quotient of our homes by checking on these elements –
- Air – proper circulation of fresh air and the power usage to supply fresh air
- Water – amount of water is used for daily activities and the energy used to pump water
- Energy – energy used for cooking, heating and other purposes
- Light – usage of artificial lighting during daytime and the type of lighting
- Earth – building material used for constructing the house
Seem similar to the Panchabhootas or five basic elements of life, isn’t it…
Air – Circulation of fresh air is crucial. So we need to check if air easily passes through, or how much power is needed to push air in and out. Optimally, a house should have ventilation on all four directions or at least two sides of the house. Individual stand alone houses don’t face much of a problem since they will have space around the house. Since apartments and row houses have blocked walls, it is necessary to have air gap between them. If this is not done, then there is no alternative but to use fans, coolers and air conditioning to cool your home.
Air cooler is the best option to cool since it dampens and cools the air it pumps in. Fans are not a good option since they tend to circulate the same stale air. Exhaust fans are the most efficient way to pump out stale and hot air. Air conditioning is the most inefficient way to cool the interiors, since its power consumption is enormous. If you really need to use air conditioning, keep the temperature at an optimum level of 22-240C.
Water – Wastage of water at home happens because of habitual way of doing daily activities like running a tap while brushing teeth or shaving beard. This can be prevented by using a tumbler of water for shaving; using three buckets of water for washing; and washing utensils once in a day. The second type of wastage is due to criminal negligence. You should not wash your car with a hose pipe since enormous water flows out. Similarly bathing in a tab or a Jacuzzi is a serious waste. You should use a shower or a bucket.
Energy – Usage of electricity, LPG gas, firewood is considered as energy usage and the simplest way to it cut down is to plan your daily activities. Cooking should be in a systematic manner where you cut the vegetables, keep the spices ready and the utensils washed and dry. Always prefer to use pressure cooker for hard boiling stuff. Check out how those celebrity cooks do it on TV!
Usage of energy efficient household appliances is crucial. Check for energy star rating for your TV, fridge, computer, fan and other appliances. Switch them off when you leave the room and do not leave them on standby mode if you are going out for a long time. Further, using an inverter or UPS with adequate battery back-up gives you the double advantage of running all your appliances continuously during power cuts and preventing them from any harm from voltage fluctuation.
Lighting – Sunlight should be allowed to brighten all corners of your home. If that not possible, the living room and kitchen should be well lit since that is where light is needed maximum. In artificial lighting, the lighting type matters. Incandescent bulbs should be avoided at all costs and be replaced with CFLs and LEDs. Since the LEDs available right now are too harsh and give feeble spread, they should be used for spotlighting such as table-lamps and showcases. Tubelights with electronic choke are much better than CFLs since they have better luminance.
Earth – This is the most crucial and basic element for an eco-friendly home. If it is built with eco-friendly material, then it is easy to make it energy efficient. Locally available material such as stone, sand and clay make sure that your house does not heat up or cool down drastically. Natural lighting should be maximised and fresh air entrance should be easy.
If you are interested to know more, you can connect with Indian Association of Energy Management Professionals (IAEMP) who regularly organise Home Energy Management Training Programme.