Home sustainability is a wonderful goal to work towards. It is a way to protect both you, your family, and the environment. Living in a sustainable home means working towards living off grid.
Living off grid may not be an ideal long term choice for you, but getting closer to off grid can lessen your exposure to the dangers of an ineffective grid. Additionally, if a severe weather event comes through and prevents you from getting power and water, the tip below can keep you and your family safer.
Invest in a Water Filter
In the event that your well pump fails or your city water offerings fail, you will be able to stay hydrated if you get a Berkey water filter. These handy gravity fed water filters take out:
- many dangerous chemicals
With a Berkey, there will be fresh, clean water on your countertop. There will be nothing to plug in. Simply follow the directions, prep your filter, assemble your Berkey tool, and enjoy the water! This is an easy step towards home sustainability.
Focus on Passive Solar
Passive solar and active solar can both save you money over the long term. However, passive solar is all about making choices that allow the heat of the sun to warm your house in cold weather. You will also want to reduce the amount of energy your home has to utilize to stay comfortable in summer. A simple passive solar choice can include:
- a retractable awning over southern or eastern windows
- removable Reflectix over western windows
Another lovely passive solar choice is a deciduous tree in front of windows on the east or west. In the winter, your home can be warmed by the sun because the leaves are gone, but in the summer you will have some protection from solar heat. Switching to solar energy is one of the best ways to improve your home sustainability. This is due to current energy sources are not green. So, check with local nurseries or your county extension office to get the best recommendations for the right tree.
Check Your Windows
If your windows are single pane, you are likely losing a lot of air conditioning or heat through them every day and night. Updating to double pane windows is a wonderful way to add value to your home and can pay for itself over time with utility savings.
Renters who have windows that are not extremely efficient can still reduce excessive heat and cold. Reflectix (thermal insulation) panels inside windows on hot days will cut down on heat build up and furniture fading. Heavy thermal drapes can cut down on the cold that seeps in through single pane windows.
Make an Active Solar Choice
Active solar means that you are using a panel to turn sunlight into electricity. If your home is not ideally situated to collect energy from the sun, you can create a solar array in your yard, or use a roof over your parking spot as a place for a solar panel.
You might also consider investing in a solar generator for emergency preparedness. With a panel or two and a solar generator, you can:
- keep electronics charged so you can call for help if needed
- run a space heater to keep you and your family warm
- run a 12 volt personal cooler to keep you and your loved ones from overheating
If the grid is impacted by a serious event, it may be days before you get power back. With a solar generator, you can reduce your misery and stay safe.
Update Your Insulation
If you own your home, you can check your own insulation in your attic or under your crawlspace. When working on any of these spaces, take care not to block off the necessary air movement to avoid moisture buildup. If you have not ever crawled around in an attic, you may need to hire someone to install quality insulation, whether cellulose, denim or wool. Popular fiberglass insulation is quite useful, but is not as sustainable as recycled materials, such as denim and cellulose.
For those who live in an apartment, check your space for cold spots and do what you can to create pockets of air between the wall or window and your living space. For example, if your north bedroom wall tends to get cold, you can create a homemade headboard with a heavy quilt hanging along that wall. Hang it on a hearty set of curtain rods to create a gap between the quilt and the wall and reduce the cold that is coming into your space.
Sustainable practices are also helpful when you are trying to increase your independence. Additionally, by using the tools listed above, you can become more aware of the conditions you need to plan for if you are planning to go off grid in the future.