We are at a point in our collective green consciousness where we can look past the more typical messages of ‘choosing LED lightbulbs’ and buying ‘green-ticked appliances’ and start to explore more critically how we can actively make better green choices as we renovate, furnish and live in our homes. In this article we review some of the more common Green Home messages and look more critically at how we can take a step further.
What’s wrong with Choosing LED lightbulbs?
Absolutely nothing – there isn’t anything wrong with LED lightbulbs, it is established that these diode-using, power-reducing marvels use much less energy than the older incandescent light bulbs. In fact these lightbulbs have become so widely accepted that a homeowner would be hard pressed to find the older incandescent ones – so does the message of ‘Choose LED Lightbulbs’, really add value today? In a market where almost every lightbulb is LED, the better question might be – how much light do we need?
Working on your home lighting plans, whether on your own or with an interior designer, it is easy to over specify the amount light that you think you need. Mood lighting, main lighting, mirror lighting, entranceway lighting, cupboard lighting often takes over from the more fundamental adequate lighting. The act of identifying how much light we need for our homes, shapes not only how much lighting energy we consume, it influences the levels of comfort that we experience in the difference spaces of our homes.
Looking Past the Green Ticks
As consumers cotton on to the importance of choosing appliances that reduce energy, manufacturers similarly have been working hard to provide us with what we want. From fridges, to air-conditioners, washing-machines to water heaters and even the kettle, our everyday electronics are getting better at reducing the amount of energy that they need to do what they do. This can create an insidious and false sense of, ‘I’ve done my part by buying green ticks…’.
The more complex reality of buying green ticked appliances come to the fore when we consider how we use and maintain these powerful appliances. Leaving the water heater on longer than you need it for, flipping on a 2 litre kettle for single cup of coffee, winterising your home by setting the air-con to sub 20 degrees Celsius, are all indulgences that counteract any meaningful value those green ticks provide. An air conditioner that is 12 months past its maintenance period, will not perform as well or efficiently as it was intended to. The green ticks are huge step forward, but they are only the first step in a much longer home-journey with our appliances.
More on Recycling?
The importance of recycling cannot be overstated; in this instance we are simply asking the question of how? Asking people to recycle more is vague, and can often lead to sporadic periods of activity followed by a reversion to the old ways of mixing the trash. As we think about our homes, we should consider recycling as a process and a daily activity. In the same way we think about dedicated spaces for our washing machines, why not incorporate recycling spaces into our homes?
Creating actual spaces – albeit small, can trigger longer-term behaviour, and it acts as a signal for all in the household to participate. Educating ourselves on the processes also helps improve that the way we separate out our recycling, and ensures that more of what we recycle actually gets recycled!
Green Means Go Forward
Today, we are surrounded by greener products, innovation and possibilities, but we need to look beyond face value and find our own ways of taking action. As a country and a community, we’ve come along way in terms of cultivating better and greener practices, and we are at a tipping point where we have the capacity to think about the actions we take in building green into our home.