Energy Efficiency: Your home can be an Eco-Friendly Environment

As electrical appliances keep piling up, and associated power bills skyrocketing, many homeowners are looking for ways to make their homes more energy efficient. Aside from money savings, improving your energy savings can also play a crucial role in preserving the environment by decreasing your carbon footprint.

Some of the eco-friendly methods to turn into a more eco-friendly are simple but can lead to important savings. While they can vary in terms of initial investments, the long-term savings for your bank account and the planet are worth the additional cost:

Conduct an energy audit

Auditing your house  will help you to assess where you use the most energy, hence where you should focus your attention to make improvements. We are talking here about potential obsolete appliances, air leaks, or defective cooling and heating systems, and more importantly, the efficiency of your overall electrical system. Thanks to such audit, you will be able get a better idea of how energy is being utilized in your home on a daily basis and where savings can be made.

Assured Insulation Solutions, LLC

Assured Insulation Solutions, LLC

Manage the Airflow

Not many people realize this but significant amount of their home energy is lost to drafts within windows and doors as hot air is leaking while cold air is going the other way, either from outside or colder portions of the home such as the basement. Airflow problems usually come from gaps improperly sealed windows and door and filling gaps is not a big deal, especially considering the savings you can generate.

Consider Insulated Windows

Far too common in older buildings, energy often escape from the windows themselves, and if you are conscious of energy spendings, then you should try shifting towards using efficiently sealed and insulated windows. Such double or triple pane window can significantly reduce the power requirements of the home by preventing heat loss during the cold season and keeping cool air in during the hot season. If your budget is limited, you can decide to focus your investment on selected portions of your home where energy drainage is likely to occur. An information that the energy audit would have helped you to identify.

Wood flooring and ceiling

Aside from anything wood-based giving warmer feeling than slob flooring, wood flooring is also great for energy savings, especially when coupled a floor heating system because it has a higher thermal mass. Wood and other solid materials significantly reduce your home’s temperature fluctuation because they absorb and store heat.

Wood flooring is great and if your budget is significant, consider getting some wooden ceiling to get the perfect combo!  

Kaltimber flooring

Kaltimber flooring

We recommend our Indonesian readers to contact our partners EcoSmart Hub for Bali area and Toucan Ecofloors for project in Jakarta!

A closer look at Indian Wood and Indian Furniture

Each country has its distinction when it comes to workmanship and the arts. Furniture making is an art that has transcend through time. Its distinctiveness is prevalent on each country and India is one of it. This two part article discusses the intricacy of wooden furniture making in India which has its roots on the history and each individual location.

Antique reproduction showcasing Indian woodworkers craftsmanship

Antique reproduction showcasing Indian woodworkers craftsmanship

Not a lot of individuals are aware that India is regarded as one of the best producers of top wooden furniture all over the globe. Subsequently, India is recognized to have a colorful and long history as far as wooden furniture industry is concerned. While furniture manufacturing in India has obtained recognition from every parts of the world, it is a bit rare to come across individuals who know the inner history and tradition of Indian Furniture.

Furniture making in India with the use of wood has been around since 1336 AD. It was basically the kings and the empires from Southern India that enriched the said craft. Wooden articles that are more than a hundred years old are living testimony. The workers were inspired by the royalty because the woodcraft carving was tagged as more than trade but a work of art. As a positive output, wooden crafts and furniture can be found from all parts of India. Aside from the conventional and basic furniture items, walls, doors, posts, and balusters can be found even in the most remote part of India, not to mention the artsy temples and ancient buildings that showcase detailed and intricate architecture that bear proof of the workmanship.

There are several fundamental parameters of carrying out wooden workmanship in India. Indian wooden furniture and accents are strongly influenced by the literature and art of the country, enrich in history. Ebony wood has been broadly utilized in the processing of Indian furniture especially prevalent in the royal families in the South of India.

Old door with a mix of wood and iron - source 4living

Old door with a mix of wood and iron - source 4living

On the other hand, in the northern part of India, walnut wood was the thing in fashion. Legends and folklores on wood can be preserved for hundreds of years as in India, furniture has been handed down from generations to generations. Indian furniture workers are known to translate wood in to incredible pieces of useful furniture. In a broader sense, wood found locally is utilized in screen manufacturing, boxes, tables, trays, decorative items like candle holders and frames. The woods that are often used in the manufacture of Indian furniture items comprise rose, coconut, sandal and teak. Sandal Wood in general, is regarded by Indians to be the gift of god because of its dependability, strength, as well as the aroma that it emits.

The next part of this article will focus on the emergence of technology.

Organic Farming: a way to sustainable development

Organic farming modifies the quality of environmental resources based upon the requirement of agricultural economy. It makes the most effective utilization of non-renewable resources and non-farm resources as well as integrates natural biological controls and cycles. It help to preserve economic viability of farm operations as well as modify the way farmers lives which translate to society in general.

Organic farming is a method of agriculture that depends on skills like green manure, crop rotation, biological pest control and composting. It also utilizes pesticides and fertilizers regarded as natural but exclude the usage of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, human sewage sludge, plant growth regulations and nano-materials to be able to attain independence, health and safety, and sustainability as a whole.

Meanwhile, when farmers rely on a successful harvest, it is very easy to comprehend why farmers use pesticides that give fast, but short sighted solutions to complicated issues. Without realizing that the traditional pesticide-free processes to feed plants and soil could also supply productive and efficient solutions to farmer’s soil.

An organic farm is a type of farm whose prototype is constructed mimicking a natural system. It is a chance to lessen agriculture’s contribution to climate change.

Sustainable farming

Sustainable farming

Using organic farming practices can:

·         Fix nitrogen content in soil by using legumes

·         Enhance quality of soil by utilizing organic materials

·         Regulate weeds and pests by means of crop rotation, organic manures, natural predators, and biological diversity

·         Maintenance of nutrition, health, housing, breading and rearing of livestocks

·         Conservation of wildlife and natural habitats

Organic farming starts with every farmer. And as it is implemented, effects of it can be realized in no time.

vegetable growing

There are many ways to contribute to sustainable development, and organic farming is only one of them. We cannot deny the fact that organic farming is a key to sustainable development because it supplements income to farmers and a guaranteed livelihood to the community as a whole. It should be promoted everywhere in the globe in order to save mother earth and be able to sustain its life for the generations of tomorrow.

This video of Pascal Poot, a french farmer, shows how he grow all sorts of vegetables without a drop of water. Sustainable and organic farming at its best!

We take this opportunity to wish all our readers and guests a Merry sustainable Christmas and soon Happy green New Year :]

Water Recycling: Is it the one for you? 2/2

The first part of this article about water recycling introduced you to gray water. Undeniably, recycling water generates extra savings that can be allocated to other expenditures.

Aside from the money savings, we have to know that water recycling plays a major sustainability impact by preserving natural resources. It might sounds like a cliché sentence, but "water is life"!

gray water

LEGAL RAMNIFICATIONS: we talked a bit about legal issues in the first path and they can vary from place to place. The legality of water recycling differs greatly depending on where you live. Although gray water recycling has been widely embraced and depicted by numerous investigations and studies as safe for humans and its environment, laws focusing on sewage and sewerage are but slow to be amended. Therefore, before installing a gray water recycling system, you need to check out several laws and regulations relating to water recycling in your area.

ECONOMIC AND ECOLOGICAL ADVANTAGES: Recycling your water can reduce water consumption not only in your household but also at your place of business, and it can reach up to forty percent!

The advantages of water conservation, especially in areas experiencing drought, are prevalent. Lessening one’s use of water can ease pressure on strained and aging sewage treatment systems but also on natural water tables.

reclaimed water

The initial installation of a home recycling system and water reclamation can vary in price depending on the type of system you will install. That being said, you shall try to have a long-term mindset. Indeed, the amount of water you will be saving will more than cover up for the installation and initialization costs.

True enough, water recycling can bring a major impact not only in one’s household but in the society as well taking a great part into sustainable development. Saving substantial amount of water is akin to saving substantial amount of money. And protecting our ecosystem. Just like recycling other elements such as hardwood and transforming it as a new product, item or décor, water recycling gives you a different view of sustainable development but the same results. At the end of the day, what is important is that you taking an active part in resolving the looming condition of the environment while giving life to your old items instead of throwing them away.

Remember, conserving water is prolonging and sustaining the water cycle. We might say that resources are infinite, but it is better to be safe than sorry. All we know is that it is not harmful to do and act now but that tomorrow It might be too late to take action.

There is no better time to recycle water than yesterday. I hope that this article opens your eyes to the great things that are waiting for you.

reuse recycle

Water Recycling: is it the one for you? - 1/2

The first part of this article will focus on gray water. Its importance is highlighted in the entire article. Since Water conservation methods and drought are prevalent in many places worldwide, you may have come across the term reclamation or water recycling. But the question is, what is gray water recycling and will it be appropriate for you and your surroundings? Will it be able to save you substantial amount of money? Will it be an advantage in the water conservation system in your community?

water

GRAY WATER: This term denotes all waste water that does not include sewage. In other words, all utilized water from your house or business except those what has been used to flush your waste in the toilet. Clear water also called “white water”. Sewage water is referred to as “black water”. So, gray water is a classification in between the two which simply means not suitable for human consumption but not absolutely contaminated.

USES FOR RECYCLED WATER: The major use for recycled gray water is landscape, irrigation, crop system and toilet flushing. And in this regard, there are several risks to utilizing it for toilet tank storage. A separate plumbing system should be installed at home destined for gray water. This will simply operate as a mini-sewage treatment facility on a household level.

However, there are several things to consider before taking this plan to utilize it for crop irrigation system or simply for planting. There can be advantages in using recycled water as it has nutrients that can boost plants health and growth. Hence, if you decide to utilize the household’s water in your backyard, it simply means that you need to be more cautious of what household products and cleaners you are using to be able to stay away from poisoning your plants. Harsh elements found in detergents contain high levels of boron, chlorine or salt which can simply harm your entire garden system. It is surely an excellent idea to avoid using soaps and bleach with heavy elements of bath salts, phosphorous, solvents and artificial dyes. That will not pass as gray water. It can be classified as black water already.

Caution is required when applying recycled water as irrigation water. This is because it contains contaminants which directly harm human health. We also have to be reminded that it should not come in to absolute contact with vegetables and fruits meant for consumption especially now that people tend to consume raw vegetables.

The next part of this article will focus on its benefits and legal requirements as well as the cost efficiency and effects on environment and how can it help in the sustainable development.

DIY bathtube Gray water recycling - source milkwood.net

DIY bathtube Gray water recycling - source milkwood.net

Five Easy Steps in Water Recycling

Biofilter with wood chips.

Biofilter with wood chips.

Water recycling is hastily obtaining popularity around the globe. Water bills are rapidly increasing and water availability and quality are decreasing in a lot of regions all over the world. Gray water is utilize as an efficient way to conserve water while saving substantial amount of money that basically just flows down the drain of your house. Listed below are five easy steps to help you, your household and the entire community in recycling water right at your very home:

·         KNOW THE REGULATIONS BEFORE YOU INIITALIZE: You have to know the rules before you start your water recycling. You have to check your local codes in order for you to know more about what type of water systems are permitted in your community. Some country or city codes have minimal or nothing to say about the recycling gray water while some have restrictive rules and regulations intact.

·         PINPOINT THE SOURCES OF YOUR GRAY WATER: There are some classified potential gray water sources at your house. An excellent and efficient source of gray water should have easily access plumbing and it should not comprise harsh sewage and chemicals. You have to avoid toilet and batch water since these kinds of sources could obtain dangerous elements like pathogens. The kitchen sink is an excellent place to begin.

·         YOU HAVE TO MULL OVER WHERE TO UTILIZE YOUR GREYWATER: Gray water can be utilized to water a flower bed, a tree, a vegetable garden, or any combination of these. Know your area in your back or front yard that could utilize recycled water. Efficient locations for gray water should be close to and a bit lower than gray water source.

·         SELECT YOUR VERY OWN GRAY WATER SYSTEM: There are a lot of options when selecting a gray water system. You can have a system professionally initialized and installed or you can engage in a do-it-yourself type of project if you feel you can initialize a simple plumbing system. To begin, you have to bear in mind that simplicity is beauty. The simplest system to install is basically a pipe that runs from the source drain to the exit place and discharges underneath a bed of mulch. Having the gray water discharge under or beneath the surface is crucial because standing surface can simply cause accumulation of bacteria and other harmful elements.

·         LEARN WATER RECYCLING SYSTEM MAINTENANCE: A lot of gray water is regarded as low maintenance. If you utilize the simple drain method describe at the onset, you should not have to do anything on it regularly. If the system is clogged with anything, you should not pour any harmful chemicals on your gray water system.

With natural washing machine products this scheme is easily doable - source coastal-watershed.org

With natural washing machine products this scheme is easily doable - source coastal-watershed.org

If you start minimal, maintaining and installing recycling water using gray water system can be fun and easy. Your plants will simply enjoy the extra nutrient rich water, and you will surely enjoy knowing you are simply saving and contributing to sustainable development. Low water bills are just bonus.

In next two weeks article we will get into more details about what is gray water as well as clean and black water and its economical advantages.

We can easily see where most of the water is going and how we can recycle some to lower other.

We can easily see where most of the water is going and how we can recycle some to lower other.

Successful Home Vegetable Gardening with Minimal Space

Following our articles on Hydroponics and Aquaponics let s have a closer look at vegetable gardening on small spaces

Nowadays, people are getting more inclined with home vegetable plant gardening. With all the price increase in the market, people are finally growing their own source of vegetables and edible plants in the backyard, whether it is in a pot or on the ground. This is very convenient- especially if you make home good recipes most of the time. The good thing about this idea is that there is no need for a big space to make it work, just enough for growing crops and herbs. And to be able to maximize all the space you have at home, here are few suggestions you might want to consider in growing a successful home vegetable garden.

Small space gardening can enhance your garden.

Small space gardening can enhance your garden.

First would be the easiest part- making the decision in picking the right vegetable plants that fit your personal needs. One might need more of herbs and spices, while the other one might need more of crops or leafy vegetables. Whatever it is, make sure you are planting the right kind of vegetable plants that will surely benefit your home most. This also may lead to a better harvest.  Since you are focused on a specific type of vegetable plant, you are going to be able to nourish and grow them properly.

Second would be the companion planting process. This is a process of planting vegetables next to one another that complement each other as opposed to fighting for the same nutrients. Say for example, growing beans, corn and squash. This works to the advantage of crops growing nearby because they benefit each other for each and every vegetable plant has their respective companion vegetable plant. The companion plant helps the other vegetable plant to grow, nourish, and produce more plant.

Your own vegetable always taste better!

Your own vegetable always taste better!

Last but not least grow your vegetable plants vertically! Yes you read it right, considering the minimal amount of space you have for growing vegetables, crops and plants, growing them vertically would be the best procedure to follow.  There are plants which we call indeterminate plants. These vegetable plants like pumpkins grow vines immeasurably, and since you do not know exactly how more space it will occupy, growing them vertically would mean giving them more space to grow.

Basically, these are amongst many considerations to take before setting up a home vegetable plant garden. While the real issue here is the limited space you might have in your backyard or at the veranda of your apartment, many concerns should also be considered before putting an actual home vegetable garden- from the type of vegetable plant to sow to the kind of procedure of planting. Regardless, having a limited space should not hinder you from having the comfort of growing your own vegetable plants at home.  As long as you have the passion to grow your own vegetable plants and you heed all the suggestions mentioned above, in time, you will surely make your way and harvest the vegetable plants fresh from your backyard.

Using anti rot, anti decay and more than anything else anti termite materials and/or wood such as reclaim Ulin can add a classy and long lasting touch to your vegetable garden (cf first article picture).

Edges of Having a Small Pool

Having your own pool is like having your own paradise at the comfort of your home. Imagine spending time with your friends and loved ones without the inconvenience of driving miles away, or even throwing a party without renting an actual party place? Sounds comfort. Having a pool at home is indeed one of the greatest investments. But who says it’s all convenience? Having a pool, as they say, is a huge responsibility to sustain. You may opt having a small and easy to maintain pool which has an advantage compared to big ones. Here are top 3 edges to consider for having a small and easy to maintain pool:

 1.   Saves water. The best advantage of having a small pool is being able to conserve water. Stating the obvious, the smaller the pool, the lesser water is needed for cleaning and refilling. This actually can already make a big impact in maintaining a pool.

2.   Less chemicals and cleaning materials. The question is how often should you clean a swimming pool? Unless you are opening your private pool to public, your pool doesn’t need an everyday thorough cleaning. Aside from the fact that it isn’t a simple task, cleaning a pool everyday would be very costly. So if you have a small and private pool and use it on a seasonal basis, it is advised to have it cleaned at least once every two weeks. 

3.   Conserves energy. Your pump and skimmers are very essential in maintaining a clean pool. They circulate the water and clean the surface of the water, respectively. And these are used with the help of electricity of course. Basically the pump and skimmers are the work horse of a pool and the most costly to maintain. So depending on the size of the pool, a small pool will be likely easier and faster to pump and clean. Hence, conserves more energy. 

The relaxation combination of wood and a small pool - source hgtv

The relaxation combination of wood and a small pool - source hgtv

You see, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars to experience your own private pool. You can enjoy a small pool just the same as the big ones, and maintain it. You can take a quick plunge built for the purpose of relaxing, lounging, and cooling off.  Some pool owners prefer the ideal small sized pool since it is has a lower costs to build, easier to maintain, and consumes less space. Not to mention that it is kid friendly too.

So if you have been thinking of putting up your own private pool, you might want to consider the 3 edges mentioned above. These are considerations not only proven but tried and tested by personal experiences of small pool owners. Small pools are worth having as a personal investment. Having a small pool is like having a holiday at a resort in the comfort of your own home.

Not crazy about using chemicals? Get yourself a Healthy pool!

Healthy Pool is a system that can greatly reduce the chlorine that you used for your pool, save money and prevent algal growth. Learn more on our sustainable friend’s website.

Small pool and its wooden deck - The Luxe Bali

Small pool and its wooden deck - The Luxe Bali

A Quick Guide to an Eco-Friendly Home

Almost everything nowadays is eco-friendly; from the food that we eat to the water bottle we are using, all are starting to considerate Mother Nature. But didn’t you know that even up to the kind of material we are using for home decors and interior design, Mother Nature is first to be  considered?  Here’s why and what to choose.

One thing to consider is the aggressive effect of the material used for interior design. It can even be health threatening to humans. So as time goes by, people are becoming more cautious in dressing up their homes. They opt to use eco-friendly materials not only because of health and environment reasons, but because it can be very affordable too.

Choose Non-Toxic Paint. Eco-friendly paint could be the best investment in any interior design. There are the toxic and the non-toxic, and the latter is always the winning choice. Non-toxic paint does not contain lead and may reduce landfill, groundwater and ozone contaminants through the years. Usually, non-toxic paints are odours free. This alone is very beneficial already to our health. Although it may be a bit pricey compared to the toxic ones, you can definitely feel the difference once it is painted on the wall and its long term effect can be priceless.

Next would be the wood. Yes, wood never go out of style and makes your home look natural, earthy and yet classy. Match your eco-friendly paint with sustained and reclaimed wood for your interior design options. From your floor to ceiling, to bits and pieces of small furniture inside your home, wood is going to fulfil your goal to have an eco-friendly home.

Hardwood flooring . Warm and classy.

Hardwood flooring . Warm and classy.

Sustained and reclaimed woods are wood products which are made from managed forests. These are woods that did not undergo through the usual clear-cutting process. What they usually do is they select few trees, cut them down, and re-plant again giving the tree time to regenerate again. This kind of process made it eco-friendly. It does not reduce the number of trees we have in our forests.

Finally, put an eco-friendly floor with the right carpet tiles. Once you are done with the walls, it’s time to put in the eco-friendly idea to your floor. Now this may be crucial since you really need a solid ground to carry the whole house. Instead of putting a traditional carpet tile, opt to a more environment friendly tiles. Example of this is the modular carpet tiles which you can change if one tile gets damaged. These are recyclables and have raw materials that can never damage the environment, at the same time, very beneficial to health since it has an indoor air quality.

Mud, stone and wood. Work of art by our friends of Mud sustainable home in Penestanan, Bali.

Mud, stone and wood. Work of art by our friends of Mud sustainable home in Penestanan, Bali.

These are the basic major areas you need to address when doing an interior design. And since the main goal is to make an eco-friendly home, switch the tradition type of materials for your walls, furniture, and floor, into a pro Mother Nature home. Eco-friendly materials are not restrictive so you have plenty of options to decide. This is what makes it more fun in doing eco-friendly interior design. 

Hydroponics VS Aquaponics

Do you recall the words hydroponics and aquaponics during your botany class? Have you ever joined a planting activity in which you encountered the process of hydroponics or aquaponics? Do you remember reading all over google and facebook about hydro and aquaponics? If not, let me give you a brief background of these systems and how it actually work for our society.

First is the Hydroponic. This is a system or a process of growing plants without the need of soil. The plants grow through the intervention of nutrient solution. This solution consists of different minerals mixed with fertilizer and raw water. Minerals such as sulfur, magnesium and calcium are some famous example of the nutrient solution. The 3 procedures of planting using hydroponic system are as follows:

  1. Place the plant in a medium size container where the plant can fully catch the nutrient solution.

  2. The nutrient solution is directly injected in the root area of the plant. The plant will no longer be needing the soil to make it grow.

  3. Since the plant is grown using nutrient solution, it is advised to flush the hydroponic system on a periodical basis. This will avoid clogging or building up of nutrients

Hydroponic illustration

Hydroponic illustration

Second is the Aquaponics. This is a system which combines hydroponics and aquaculture. This kind of system is usually being practiced in fish farms. As illustrated in the picture below, aquaculture is the system or process of growing fish in an enclosed environment. Here is the detailed process of growing fish through aquaponics:

  1. The enclosed environment of the fish creates a closed circuit water way in which the waste of the fish is being pumped into the hydroponics plants beds.

  2. The fish waste encompasses nutrients and nitrogen which are used to nurture the plants. These nutrients are very beneficial to plants.

  3. The fish waste then goes to the plants and then being recycled again as purified water. The water goes back for the use of the fish. Therefore, aquaponics is simply a kind of system that constantly recycles water, waste, and food for the benefit of the plants.

Aquaponics cycle, as easy as it gets!

Aquaponics cycle, as easy as it gets!

So if you are to ask which system plays a more vital role? I am pretty much one hundred percent sure that you have an idea. The answer is neither.  Both of the systems has its own procedure and benefits. None is superior to the other. But how will you know which one you will be needing? You have to determine first if the goal here is either to grow plants or to breed fishes. If you are into plants, then hydroponic system is the right one for you. On the other hand, if fishes are your main objective to nurture, then go for the aquaponics.

Both systems can be used as a tool for gardening. It will also help in sustainable development. They have their respective advantages and disadvantages. But definitely, both are very ideal in breeding fishes and growing plants at the same time. Both methods, hydroponics and aquaponics, will grow abundant plant life.