Proposed solutions to a more healthy and sustainable home.

1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will have cancer throughout their lives in Spain.

 

As a prelude to World Cancer Day, this February the 4th, SEOM presents the Cancer Figures in Spain 2017.  Tobacco, alcohol, obesity and sedentary habits increase the risk of cancer and are responsible for a third of , and this is supposed to be a reasonably healthy country……Mediterranean diet etc.

So to take a good look on how to make our home a healthier and more sustainable place to live in and at the same time we will help the environment to be more viable in the future.

A building built and inhabited in a sustainable way is healthier and achieves significant savings for its occupants. Aspects such as indoor air quality (extremely important for our health), location, energy efficiency, thermal insulation or the use of renewable energy are some of the aspects that need to be taken into account. This article points out seven keys to a healthy and sustainable home.

 

Fresh air.

Several studies indicate that the level of contamination inside houses can be several times superior to the exterior. In less developed countries causes more than four million premature deaths, in most cases by open fires or kitchens without external evacuation to cook and to get warm.

The energy consumption of heating accounts for 47% of the total Spanish households.

The location of the house should take into account the orientation: to the south should be the living rooms and bedrooms of children; And to the north kitchens, bathrooms, stairs and rooms that require less heat or less time to be heated. Other elements that should be considered are possible soil contamination, acoustic impact, proximity to green and pedestrian zones and proximity to sources of atmospheric pollutants. The outdoor spaces (patios, terraces, green areas, public space attached, etc.) should favour natural lighting and ventilation, contact with vegetation and accessibility.   

  

Combating energy poverty.

 

Energy poverty, the inability to keep a home at an adequate temperature, is growing more and more in Spain, according to a report by the Association of Environmental Sciences (ACA). Faced with this problem which causes disease, death and makes social vulnerability into social exclusion, structural and long-term action is indispensable, ambitious energy rehabilitation plan for the ageing and rehabbing inefficient housing stock rather than building new ones, as well as shock measures such as deferral of payments for vulnerable people, social bond, contracted power reduction, and energy savings could make a difference on this aspect. By optimising energy contracts, an average economic saving of 22% could be achieved.

To obtain an adequate design of building shells.

Maintaining an optimum temperature is top priority in a healthy and sustainable home. For this, it is fundamental an enclosure of the building with a suitable insulation to ensure thermal and acoustic comfort. I have to emphasises that it is necessary to act where the greatest heat losses happen: installing weather stripping on windows (cheap and very effective);To replace windows and glass (more expensive), but with low thermal conductivity carpentry and double glazing large heat losses can be avoided. Also to insulate walls and roofs of the house (more complex and expensive, but the investment is recovered in a few years, since it saves a lot of energy); To reduce the energy consumption of heating (being 47% of the total Spanish households) by lowering the thermostat according to the type of room and the time of day can also help; While heat meters and cost distribution in collective heating will make everyone pay what they actually consume, could enable to achieve savings of between 20 and 30%.

 

Increase efficiency and savings.

Achieving high energy efficiency is an initial investment that can make a difference just in a few years being the return period on investment between 7 to 10 years (it will depend on the actual cost of energy and how inefficient the house is initially) after that significant savings are made. The energy certification of buildings is a good clue to know the performance of the house we want to acquire or if ours needs improvements.

Other recommendations, such as buying appliances that are as efficient as possible (A +++), using energy-saving technologies in home equipment and installations (heating, hot water, air conditioning, refrigerator and washing machine, lighting, etc.) Faucet saving devices, toilets, separating systems with water recycling, recovery and storage of rainwater, gardening with native species and low water demand, etc. All of these recommendations can have a tremendous impact in our local environment and hence in our planet.

 

Reduce waste generation and recycle.

The use of construction technologies and systems that generate few wastes during the construction and demolition phases and are could be easily reusable, removable and recyclable is another indispensable element of a sustainable building. Once built, their occupants should also be aware of the need to reduce their production of waste and its proper separation for subsequent recycling.

 

Use renewable energy.

 

Renewable produce clean and inexhaustible energy and are the ecological alternative to fossil fuels and pollutants that dominate the current energy landscape. Consumers can install some kind of renewable technology in their homes, such as photovoltaic panels or solar thermal energy, or become a customer of one of the growing number of 100% green electricity traders existing in Spain.

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