Eco-friendly living is an aspiration for millions of families – but with a 7.6% bump in the cost of living in South Africa over the last year, maintaining an efficient, sustainable home has become even more of a priority.

The good news is that replacing mains power for solar, plastic for paper or even simple swaps such as using low-energy bulbs can reduce the cost of running a home while benefiting the environment.

As solar lighting experts, Solight has long believed that free, natural solar power is the renewable energy answer to issues around unreliable mains grids, ever more expensive utility bills and ecological impacts such as light pollution. We’ve collated some top tips to help you maintain a more sustainable home

1. Reducing Utility Usage and Light Pollution

Energy-efficient lighting is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to decrease your CO2 emissions, whether opting for one of our advanced outdoor solar security and ornamental garden lights or replacing indoor bulbs with LEDs.

Here are a few facts to illustrate the savings and practicalities:

  • Changing standard bulbs to LEDs lowers household annual CO2 emissions by 40 kilograms.
  • Outdoor solar lights have zero wiring, require no electricity, and cost nothing to run – your lights operate for years powered solely by the sun and have no cables or trenches exposed to weather deterioration or tampering.
  • Smart solar LEDs minimise light pollution and improve visibility without bright spots bracketed by dark patches, which makes illuminations easier on the eye, and more natural for local wildlife.

A major upgrade is installing solar panels on your roof and fitting a battery and inverter. Still, you can make some attainable swaps to take advantage of solar energy and move closer to a more sustainable home situation.

2. Minimising Plastics and Landfill Refuse

Plastics are used in almost everything we buy and are deadly to the environment. Waste plastic can take decades, if not centuries, to degrade, polluting oceans and water sources, spreading toxins that unbalance the delicate ecosystem, and contributing to global warming.

Reducing plastic takes only a little effort and can be an ideal way to demonstrate your commitment towards sustainability and help children follow suit to perpetuate environmental responsibilities. It is also cheaper to reuse and repurpose rather than buying disposable packs that inevitably end up in landfill.

Try these changes, which together add up to make a big difference:

  • Switch plastic straws for paper or washable alternatives.
  • Buy refillable cleaning products that cost less than a second pack.
  • Take your own bags to the shopping centre – it also saves paying for plastic ones!
  • Opt for groceries where you can pick your fruit and veg instead of buying plastic-wrapped produce – this is normally the freshest and most nutritious.

The global economy produces 500 billion plastic bottles annually, and eight million tons of plastic end up in the sea. If we all play our part, we help lessen the plastics in our environment.

3. Prioritising Energy Efficiency

Energy production predominantly relies on fossil fuels, so reducing our energy use eases the environmental impact and decreases power outages where energy supplies are overburdened.

Options include:

  • Adding draught proofing to windows and doors – you can apply thermal films to the inside of glass, use heavy curtains to keep cold air at bay or use draught excluders to retain warmth.
  • Switching appliances off at the plug when not in use. Appliances remain on standby, which uses a small amount of power continually, so be sure to turn off the plug or take it out of the socket altogether – an easy thing to add to your sustainable home list!
  • Sealing gaps or cracks in walls and brickwork, preventing warmth from escaping outdoors, and retaining cooler air during the summer months.

The Green Fund is a government project designed to promote a range of low-carbon initiatives, such as sustainable water management, renewable off-grid energy and energy efficiency measures.

While it is primarily available through local government schemes, it may be worthwhile to check whether any grants or subsidies are available in your local region that could offset the cost of a more extensive change to a fully solar-powered property.

4. Saving Water and Water Wastage

The less water we use, the lower the impact our homes have on the ecosystem, and the less waste water we flush away to be treated before it can rejoin the water table.

Some of the sustainability actions to reduce water consumption include:

  • Using excess water for watering plants or lawns or irrigating flower beds – think rainwater butts, water collected in a condenser tumble dryer, or even water in your washing-up bowl that isn’t soapy.
  • Swapping longer baths for showers a few times a week or being a little faster – each minute less you spend under the spray will save you around 12 litres of water.
  • Being mindful of only running a dishwasher when it is full (they use 10 litres of water at a time) or turning off taps while you brush your teeth.

Smart shower-heads are also a great option available at a small investment, which can reduce water usage by around 40 litres a day for the average household. Water shortages and drought are serious challenges. Preserving water supplies mitigates the potential that such disasters could become more common in the future, so it is in everybody’s interest!

Water conservation is also hugely important for our carbon footprints – it helps protect wetland habitats and keep our seas, lakes and rivers healthy and at optimal levels.

Advice on Maintaining a Sustainable Home

We hope these ideas inspire you to see which changes you can make and where you can improve your sustainable home points, work towards carbon neutrality, and do your bit to help safeguard our environment for generations to come.

Please get in touch at any time if you would like more information about solar energy alternatives, replacing outdoor lights with sustainable models, or how renewable energy can replace and reduce electricity costs.