We can all do little things to reduce our home’s carbon dioxide footprint, like turning off lights when we leave a room and increasing the AC temperature. If you want to go a step further, however, and integrate greenness into the very structure of your home, it’s time to get the hammer and tools out. With help from The Big Fitout, the UAE interiors specialist, we show you to make your home green.
UAE homeowners can now start generating power thanks to DEWA’s Shams programme. Under the scheme, homeowners can install PV panels at home and connect them to DEWA’s grid. Electricity is used on site and any surplus is exported to DEWA’s network. There’s a list of approved solar panel installers on DEWA’s website and a tool that gives you a rough estimate of how much power your home PV installation might generate.
Tint and double glaze the windows
Windows may give you your home light and connect you to the outside world, but they let heat in. Window tinting will reduce glare, prevent fading of furniture and ornaments, and, crucially, reduce heat buildup in your home. With less heat trapped inside your house, you can use the AC less often and raise the thermostat slightly when you have it on. The same goes for upgrading your windows and doors to thermal break double glazing. Although associated with cold climates where people want to keep heat in, it can also heat keep out in our warm Gulf climate.
It might not seem like it, but you can get through a lot of water in your bathroom. A low-flow showerhead can more than halve the amount of water used per wash and it will still give you a strong blast of water. Where a ‘normal’ shower might use 15–20 litres of water a minute, a low-flow model can use as little as 9. If your budget allows and if your new home doesn’t already have one, you could also invest in a low-flow, dual-flush toilet.
We know we shouldn’t do it, but many of us leave the tap on when washing hands and kitchen items, or while brushing teeth. A solution is to install motion or touch operated taps that will turn on and off as you place objects or hands near them. It also appears that because they’re hands free, they’re much cleaner and more hygienic than traditional taps.
It might seem like another very small detail, but the type of bulb you use makes a big difference to energy consumption. If you want to save energy over time, choose LED bulbs. There have been scare stories about the impact of LEDs on the eyes, but you’d probably have to stare at one for hours on end without blinking for there to be any impact.
Solar water heater
Why pay for electricity when you can use the sun to heat up your water supply? There are different types of solar water heater, but the end result is the same: hot water without having to pay directly to heat the water. Check with an installer to see which type is best for your residence.
We’ve discussed tinting and double glazing, but landscaping might have a role to play in cooling your home. Trees positioned correctly can create a natural sunshade that reduces the amount of heat getting into your home through the windows. Try to use local species as these will drink less water than invasive ones. Look again at your outside area and ask yourself if that green, water-hungry lawn is necessary. Dig it up and find alternative ways to create an attractive outdoor space or invest in good quality artificial grass to have a maintenance-free green space.