Tag Archives: eco-friendly homes

Eco-Friendly Changes through the Years

‘Eco-friendly home’ is a term that has been around for years and how people have interpreted that term has changed over time. Over the years, we have heard of solar power, double-glazing for added insulation and even recycling water but today, we talk about carbon footprints, zero emissions, photovoltaic systems and many other strange descriptions, words that have come with advanced knowledge.

Houses have been made out of tyres, bales of straw, bottles and even caves have been adapted to create a greener home.

•    With tyres, I really did believe that these would be all lined up and an undulating wall would be the result but it seems that the same tyres can be compressed and tied into smaller and more compact shapes, to resemble building blocks.  That gives me a much better understanding of how tyres can insulate a house.  In fact, I can even feel the warmth in my mind.

•    Bales of straw can also make fine walls.  Again, I couldn’t get my head round this until I was told that once they are packed into place on concrete foundations, they will be strengthened with cement, to make whole walls which won’t be eaten away by mice and other rodents.  Again, I can see how such a wall can provide excellent insulation though, at this moment, the tyres definitely have my vote.

•    A wall made from bottles seems a strange idea and, although some walls are made with bottles lying flat, it seems that bottles standing like bottles can make quite a sturdy wall.  These are held in place with cement and again, you have good insulation, as the empty bottles act like that well-known vacuum flask, keeping what is inside warm as a result of the empty space that exists between the inner and outer walls.  This isn’t my cup of tea but I can almost understand the mathematics.

•    The cave idea seems sensible, when you understand that heat is held within the soil as little as ten feet below the surface and the interior walls of the cave back on to that same soil and don’t have to fight off heavy winds or vicious winters.  Such a home won’t have a roof open to the elements so, with only the front of your house exposed, your cave home is being hugged by the land, a very warm place indeed.  Caves have acted as shelter over the centuries and, in Galera in the Andalusian province of southern Spain, caves still used today hold a constant temperature of between 16 and 18 degrees C, even when the winters bring minus15 degrees centigrade and the summers boast 40 degrees and more.  I can feel that comfortable temperature and appreciate the savings on the heating bill.

The Latest Eco-Friendly Homes.

Although these building ideas are still popular today, we are now talking about modular buildings and even recycled shipping containers, the latter of which can be bought cheaply and then adapted to contain all of the elements of a green building.  The metal container itself is very durable and has proved to stand up to extreme weather conditions, so we’re not just talking about using them on private land in England but also in disaster areas and even in war zones.

For those of us who are not into DIY, or live such busy lives that picking up a screwdriver is only a dream, there are companies out there, such as My Space Pod, who adapt the shipping containers to meet the individual’s requirements.  Buying a home of this nature is much cheaper, as you can start off small then add on at a later date so, instead of paying a heavy mortgage in instalments, you can build your house in instalments, finding the finance and adding space as you need it.  That saves you paying for a huge house that you might need in the future, as you are only paying for what you need in that moment.

Once you have your eco-friendly home up and running, it’s time to address what goes on inside, because even the household products you use contribute to the whole picture of going green.  This part is a little easier though, even if it is an ongoing thing!

Why an Eco-Friendly Home is the Best Choice

It’s all right to say that you would like to live in an eco-friendly home but do you know what to look for?  If it’s the first time you have thought of such things, you should do some fact-finding, before spending your money.

An eco-friendly home is going to use systems which don’t sap the earth of its energies.  In return, adopting these new systems will save you money in the long run so, while you’re doing your bit towards saving the planet, there’s a personal gain too.

Different Ways of Getting Your Own Eco-Friendly Home.

An eco-friendly home can be achieved by adapting your own home or by building from scratch but, while the first will prove inconvenient and disruptive, the second may take as long as two years to complete. A third and very successful method is to build a new home from recycled shipping containers, which offers a cheaper home within the much shorter period of around twenty six weeks, once planning permission has been granted.

The beauty of a container-home is that it is made of corrosion-proof steel, it isn’t going to leak in and it’s invasion-proof from woodworm or vermin.  Its exterior will look how you want it to look, within the regulations set by the area in which you live.  The cladding used will enhance its appearance, so that it doesn’t show its inner core, making your new home blend into the local landscape and look as attractive as any other new-build.

What Systems Will My Eco-Friendly Home Have in Place?

Once you’ve decided on which approach you’re going to take, there are many installations that will make your home eco-friendly:-

Heating and Hot Water. Solar heating means taking energy from the sun and this will save on your electricity bill.  There is also a system of collecting subterranean heat, which involves laying plastic tubes well underground and filling them with a mixture of anti-freeze and water.  Together with a compressor, this system heats water to a welcome 50 or 60 degrees centigrade, providing heating and hot water.   This system will make a huge saving on the electricity bill.
Windows.  Double-glazing will help retain heat within your home and, if postioned correctly, will allow natural light to enter, again saving on your electricity bill.
Water.  Grey water is water that has been used but can be used again.  For example, water from your washing-machine can be recycled and used again, either for your toilet system or for watering the garden.  The eco-friendly plumbing system will stop this grey water being directed to the sewerage system, helping you dramatically save on water usage.  For those whose homes are installed with water meters, changing to this eco-friendly system will quickly pay for itself.
Insulation. Cavity-wall insulation will also keep your home warm, helping you save on electricity once again.  The company My Space Pod, who specialises in constructing eco-friendly homes from shipping containers, use aerogel, which is capable of insulating against extreme weather temperatures.

These are only a few ideas of how a home can become eco-friendly but they clearly indicate how you are helping yourself, whilst also helping the planet.  Using the recycled container method is a very good choice, since you’re starting from scratch and it’s a fast-build.  Also, if you’re a busy person, My Space Pod can do all of this for you, including the official paperwork for planning permission.  If you do go down this route, My Space Pod prepares your container-home offsite, which cuts down on the carbon footprint, as everything is done at their worksite.  Should you be ordering more than one container, these attach together and can also be stacked via the company’s structural support systems, making modular buildings fit one’s own personal plan.

Who could ask for more?

The Eco Advantages of Recycling Household Water

If each accommodation was to commit itself to becoming a green home, the beneficial effect on the world would be huge.  Looking at recycling household water as a single issue, both the householder and the government would be financially much better off.

The ordinary household uses gallon upon gallon of water every week.  This life-supporting liquid has been made drinkable (potable), via processes which make it fit for human consumption.

Treated water enters into the building and is used in the kitchen and the bathroom.  Once used, the water is classed as grey water (cloudy and already used), except for the water from the toilet, which is sewage and labelled black water.  When exiting the house, grey and black mix and the water goes off to a sewage plant, for treatment.

In the normal household, it is estimated that fifty to eighty per cent of water used becomes grey water which, if kept separate from the highly contaminated black water, can indeed be used again.  Though the water from showers, dishwashers and washing machines cannot be drunk, it can be used to water the garden, clean the car, or do general cleaning.

Re-using untreated grey water can be done simply, by catching the shower water in a bucket, or re-directing the pipe from the washing machine through a window and into the garden.  The water upon exit may be warm, so allowing it to cool first is a good idea, though do not allow it to stand for more than twenty four hours, as the water will also contain nutrient and pathogens, which will thrive in the warm environment.  As regards to washing machine water, it is important that the laundry agents are biodegradable and low in phosphate and salt levels, as these can have a negative effect on  the soil.  If grey water contains any bleach, dyes or other unfriendly products, you should consider it to be black water and not re-use it in any way.

Rather than making the process of re-using grey water a manual task, the plumbing system in a modern building can be two-fold, one system for elimination of black water and the other to capture and re-use the grey water.  Filtration can also make grey water fit for washing, though it will never be pure enough for drinking.

By re-using grey water, the amount of water used will be greatly reduced and, in turn, the benefits will be recognised when reading of the water meter.  Also, less used water will arrive at the sewage treatment plants, reducing the cost of recycling the water back into the system.

Thinking about how we use water is an area we can all address and can be the first step in developing an energy-efficient accommodation.

Lifestyle Friendly Accommodation

A couple of months ago, I was reading about container homes and it gave me a wonderful feeling of nostalgia. My mind went back to caravans, Butlins and good times, because isn’t a container home another name for a caravan, just like plimsolls passed through sandshoes to become trainers?

Well, yes and no.

The caravans of yesteryear were the closest we could get to a holiday and, if we’re honest about it, they were hard work. There were no toilet or washing facilities and the water for drinking and cooking had to be carried in a flagon from the communal tap, maybe using wheels that you inherited from a pushchair or an old shopping bag on wheels. Waste water was caught in a bucket and had to be tipped down some drain or other. Heat was provided by way of a gas bottle and lighting came from the same. You couldn’t use the caravan in winter, because the weather was far too cold and, eventually, it rained in. Still, those were the days, or so we thought at the time.

Container homes may seem similar but they are much more state of the art. The first point is they have a much longer shelf life than caravans, boasting a sixty year lifespan, which takes into account possible demounting and relocation. Made from recycled shipping containers, these homes come in various sizes and can be designed to your own specifications. The size is 20’ x 8’ x 8’ 6″ high gives you 160 square feet of living space, ideal for permanent accommodation for a single person.  These recycled containers are also available in bigger sizes such as the spacious 40’ container (40’ x 8’ x 8’ 6″), which gives you 320 square feet of living space. The application of container homes has evolved so considerably, that it goes well beyond the caravan park application and the key modular building components can be stacked up and converted into comfortable holiday villas, or even luxury holiday lets. Prefabricated houses cut down on waiting time and, as portable buildings, they can be easily delivered and quickly operational.

By state of the art I mean that, unlike caravans, these container homes are eco-friendly, supporting the environment and our future. They are designed to manage diverse weather conditions and utilise the latest space age technology in insulation. They incorporate renewable energy systems and also re-cycle water for toilets and washing machines, via a water-harvesting system. Again, savings are being made on running costs.

Container homes don’t have to look like containers, as attractive cladding to the exterior can make them blend into the local landscape. Of course, there are rules as to where you can site them and, after a quick glance at one of the sites that specialises in container homes, I found the information to be very user-friendly. This gives us all a chance to understand the process and make informative decisions on how we can create a cleaner and better future for ourselves. Just like those caravans of my childhood, I have got a really warm feeling but, this time, for much better reasons.