Healthy Living

Climate Action Can Start in Our Own Homes | by Flourish Kia Puāwai | Nov, 2021

Flourish Kia Puāwai

A part of our Top 10 Tips for Climate Change Series: Where can we start with addressing climate change as individuals and families? In our own homes where we are masters of our domains.

#1 Plant-Based Diet
#2 Grow Your Own Food
#3 Plant More Trees
#4 The Good Home
#5 Reduce Fossil Fuels
#6 Reduce Waste
#7 Get Involved
#8 Matauranga Maori
#9 Get Informed
#10 Love Nature

The Good Home has a lot of cross over with reducing your waste (our Tip #6) from refusing, reusing, recycling, upcycling, composting and so on but the biggest impact can be changing what you buy and even if you need to buy it in the first place.

There are now thankfully many eco-products available that reduce plastic and are kind to the planet. Local small businesses like Ethique, Refillery and Remix Plastic have been doing this for some years now. We also have some larger New Zealand made businesses like Eco-Shop and Eco Store with products in all supermarkets and don’t forget your local Bin Inns! If you haven’t got a local eco-friendly shop then there are plenty online now.

Watch out for Green-Washing, where businesses say they are green but aren’t really. For example, having refills of soaps and detergents in soft plastics isn’t any better than the solid bottles. What is greener is having it in plastic bottles 1 or 2 that can be easily recycled or even better refill your own, make your own or blocks with no plastic at all.

The eco-home will be more fully covered in our Tip #6 Reduce Waste. Check out our The Good Home Facebook page too!

Not only are healthier warmer homes good for the planet, they also are good for your health and your pocket too.

Energy use at home includes electricity and heating fuels. Reducing energy use is great for your pocket but also lightens the load on our electrical infrastructure which isn’t 100% renewable. Most of New Zealand’s power comes from our hydro dams (about 80%). Fossil fuels, such as coal, are burned in power stations to meet peak electricity demand times such as early evening.

Other easy actions to trim electricity bills include:

  • Checking that your current retailer is best value in your area. Try SwitchMe, PowerSwitch or Glimp. You may be able to use lower cost off-peak timed water heating.
  • Keep lids on cooking pans and pots; don’t over-fill the electric jug — it takes lots of power to make steam, and then more for a fan to vent it from the room!
  • If rooms are overheating in summer, shade the West-facing windows instead of running your heat pump on cooling.
  • Dry clothes outside on lines instead of in a dryer. Also prevents all that moisture in your clothes going into your home and increasing chances of mould.
  • Close curtains at dusk in winter to keep warmth in, and have them wide open on north-facing windows by day.
  • Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens to outside, to remove steam — dry air is easier and cheaper to warm than wet air, and you reduce mould too. Modern extract fans are power-efficient and bathroom fans can be run on delayed auto-switch off.
  • Don’t have your heatpump on A (auto) as it wastes electricity to keep the room to your chosen temperature i.e. it also cools the room to keep it at that temperature. Either use heat or cool to the temperature you want. WHO recommends a low of 16 and a high of 22 degrees in your home.

Water– In Christchurch City it’s easy to take a clean water supply for granted. Here are many ways you can reduce your household water use (and your water bill, if metered) and reduce pollution going into waterways:

  • Wash the windows and car using a bucket and sponge, not a hose
  • Reduce stream pollution, from detergents and debris, by washing the car on a lawn or gravel area, not on the road seal. Road drains are intended only for rain, not detergent, oils, paints or cigarette butts…
  • Use less water when toilet flushing by reducing the capacity of the cistern — add a sealed container of water or a brick if you don’t have a dual flush cistern installed
  • Saving rain water for irrigation, and/or using timers on hoses from the tap
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

Rainwater and storm water solutions — In principle, a rainwater collection system is simple: rainwater is collected from your roof and stored in a tank until you need it. Exactly how you set the system up will depend on how much rainwater you need and what you want to use it for. To collect rainwater for watering the garden, you might not need anything more complex than a 44-gallon drum or a 200–500 litre rain barrel with a tap or connection to a soak hose. Generally, systems for outdoor use only rely on gravity with no need for pumps.

You can also collect rainwater for:

  • flushing your toilet and doing your laundry
  • other household uses such as drinking, bathing and using in the kitchen (but the water will have to be treated or purified).

For advice on creating rain gardens, pumice wicks and swales, ask your local or regional council, or local garden centre. For lots of information check out Sustainable Living Aotearoa

Lighting — LED Light bulbs use up to 85% less electricity that traditional bulbs and can last 15 times longer. They cost more upfront but the long term savings are worth it. LED bulbs have become much cheaper and can be as cheap as $3.

Downlights — Most older recessed downlights get so hot that they require gaps in the ceiling and/or insulation around them to reduce the risk of fire — but that means heat and energy leak out. Imagine having a jersey with huge holes in the middle of winter! Incandescent (traditional) bulbs and halogen bulbs are also inefficient and expensive to run.

Replace with LED downlights and, if required, a ceiling insulation fix up/top up. Good insulation makes our homes more energy efficient, comfortable and healthy. It makes homes easier and cheaper to heat and adds lasting value to properties.

Healthy Homes’ Programmes:

Warmer Kiwi Homes Programme by Government has 80% subsidies for insulation and Heating — check if you are eligible here

Book a Healthy Home Assessment and a friendly Advisor can visit your home and talk with you about ways to improve the health and efficiency of your home. This free service is available to ALL Christchurch Homeowners. Check with them if you are renting. This expert advice will be tailored to your needs and be specific to your home, including; Insulation, Heating, Ventilation and moisture control, Windows and curtains, Draft stopping, Glazing, Water heating, Smoke alarms. Community Energy Action or Healthier Homes Canterbury.

Home fit has a free online Home Assessment Tool. This is designed for Kiwis looking at homes to buy or rent, or for homeowners looking to improve their property. It also offers advice to landlords on how to meet the Government’s Healthy Homes Standards.

Learn how to make your building or renovation more eco-friendly. Advice is available for homeowners, home designers, builders and industry professionals. If you’re an architect, you can earn 10 CPD points for a two-hour consultation with an Eco Design Advisor. Book a free two-hour consultation with a specialist Christchurch City Council Eco Design Advisor.

Build Smarter — Home improvement guide and new home building guide. Also has other useful resources and links.

There are loads we can do in our own home — many things actually make living cheaper too. We can’t cover everything (just yet) like solar and wind power, other ways to live sustainably. Please let us know your Good Home Ideas by commenting below.

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