Home Improvement

RL Tips: 10 Steps to an Eco-friendly Home (Part 1)

Easy and simple ways to improve your home and be kinder to the planet

Photography: Miguel Nacianceno

Admit it -- it isn't easy being green. You want to be kinder to the planet, but solar panels and hybrid cars are expensive, and composting trash in your backyard might not be possible, especially if you're living in a condo. So what can you do?

One baby step is to save energy at home. According to Greenpeace, energy consumed by homeowners and building tenants are some of the world's biggest sources of carbon emissions, which trap heat in the atmosphere, raising temperatures, and doing that thing that Al Gore doesn't want to happen. Also, energy just makes you rack up those electric bills! You can talk to your licensed architect about designing a more energy-efficient home, but if you've already got your dream house up and running, you can still do little things that make a big difference in the end. Beng Reyes Ong of the Climate and Energy Campaign of Greenpeace gives us ten easy ways to sneak in some all-important eco-friendliness into our own homes.

 Read the original article ("The Green-house Effect”) in the May 2008 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Welcome natural light and natural air

Avoid the need for artificial energy. Smartly placed windows, doors, and other openings let in sunlight and allow passive cooling, minimizing the need for artificial lighting and air-conditioning.

Unplug, unplug, unplug

Plugged appliances, even on standby mode, still consume electricity. Save all that unused energy by unplugging TVs, mobile phone chargers, microwaves, and coffeemakers when not in use.

Insulate your roof

Installing insulation under your roofing system deflects heat, and helps keep the inside of your house cool, so you don't need to rev up those energy-chugging air-conditioners all the time. 

Choose a better AC unit

If you still want an air-conditioner, get one with an integrated cooling system. The compressor can generate cold water at night (off-peak energy hours). The fan coil will generate cool air in the daytime (peak energy hours).

Get more plants

Plants can keep you cool! Aside from providing shade, having trees and foliage in and around your house can keep the temperature down, sometimes even three degrees cooler. 

Use energy-efficient lights

Yes, it pays to use those strange-looking, curly, energy-efficient bulbs. According to Beng, CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) cut power consumption by as much as 80 percent, and last much longer than incandescents.


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