Sustainable sells – does your fireplace have a window?

Some greening options might cost more up-front, but still save you money over time. Such expenditures should be seen as an investment, in both a future of lower utility costs and a healthier environment.

Here are the six best ideas outlined in the My Green Home guide.

Install a solar water heater or heat pump

The expense of a solar water heater is usually covered by savings within four to six years. To learn more about how to choose a solar water heater see the My Green Home Step-by-Step Guide to Solar Hot Water.

If your home is shaded or the roof is not north-facing, it may not be suitable for a solar water heater. A great alternative is a heat pump, which uses less than half the electricity of a normal geyser. The cost is similar to a solar water heater and also pays for itself in a few years. However, a heat pump needs annual maintenance, doesn’t last as long as most solar panels and makes some noise.

Give your fireplace a window

Open fireplaces may look charming, but you don’t see the heat and pollutants escaping up the chimney. Modern, closed-combustion fireplaces and wood stoves vastly improve efficiency by controlling the flow of air and keeping heat inside the home.

Buy a more efficient pool pump

While most pumps use 750w and 1100w, new variable-speed models use only 150w to 300w at their lowest settings. While more expensive, you should earn all that money back with a few years of electricity savings. Variable-speed pumps are also quiet and long-lasting.

Protect your home with adequate ceiling insulation

Without ceiling insulation, you’re losing too much heat in the winter through the roof — and gaining too much in summer. A layer of glass wool or blown-in cellulose made from recycled paper saves energy and improves comfort.

Go green with gas

Gas has the edge over electricity in supplying instant heat and defying load-shedding. Switching from electricity to gas also cuts the carbon footprint of your appliances by about half. Note that a gas installation needs to be done by an accredited service provider and comply with safety regulations.

Choose an efficient refrigerator that makes the grade

Refrigerators and freezers vary widely in efficiency, so check the energy label when buying a new appliance. Labels are still voluntary in South Africa; if you don’t see a rating, assume it’s not efficient. SA labels max out at A, but with EU labels, aim for an A+ or A++ fridge. Also look at the estimated annual consumption in kilowatt hours, which matters even more.

Posted by The Know - Pam Golding Properties