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Home Automation Systems: Smart homes are the future

Smart homes are increasingly becoming the best possible option when you are looking for a system that is able to both boost the security of your home while also making life a whole lot more convenient. Many modern homes have a home automation system installed, turning the ordinary home into an intelligent home.

While home security automation can be a big deciding factor when choosing a system, the “automation house” can become so much more than just a secure place for your family.

What is a home automation system?

Home automation is not a new concept but it is one of the more interesting developments in the world of smart home technology. When we talk about home automation, we’re talking about those features of the home that can be controlled using electric or automated systems. Some of the components of a home that has an automation system installed include centralising security by controlling the locks on all of the doors in the home and gates on the property, having control over various appliances, control over the homes lighting, control over the CCTV system as well as control over the heating or cooling of the home.

What are the benefits of home automation?

As you can imagine, smart home technology comes with numerous benefits. An increase in the ease with which you can take full control over your home is one of the biggest benefits that you can expect from intelligent home systems. You can easily arrange your entire automation system using your favourite devices such as your laptop, smartphone or tablet.

But easy use is not the only benefit that you will have to look forward to. With your smart home automation you can also expect:

  1. To add a new level of safety and security to your home. Home automation and security systems are synonymous and together can make a remarkable improvement to your security. Turning on lights, with the tap of a finger, before you arrive at your home can be a crime deterrent. But it is not just a great feature for security against crime. With a home automation system, you can also double-check that all of your appliances are turned off when you leave home in the morning.
  2. Automated door locks are the next big feature, and a great benefit, that comes with having a home automated system. Home automation can give you control over your door locks, which can be a great use should you accidently forget to lock up when you leave in the morning to go to work. If you can simply lock your doors by tapping your smartphone device, tablet, or with a click of your mouse, you will be able to focus on your work instead of spending your day worrying. You will also be alerted whenever someone enters your home which allows you to monitor your security.
  3. Security cameras are another part of the home automation system and they are the best eyes you could have in your home. You will easily be able to see what is happening in your home with intelligent home systems and you will also be able to keep recorded clips of the goings on in your home.
  4. With home automation systems, you can adjust the temperature within your home. This applies to underfloor heating as well as cooling air conditioning. This means that your house can be heated or cooled before you arrive home.
  5. Home automation can aid in the energy efficiency of your home. Having precise control over the power used in your home as well as having control over the temperature can ensure that your home is more energy efficient. This is why smart homes are a part of the appliances that you can use to be more environmentally conscious in your home. Depending on the system that you have in your home, your smart system can suggest the settings that will be the most energy efficient.

Smart home technology is continuously developing which means that once you have such a system installed, you can benefit from the latest developments for years to come. Green Leaf Alternative Solutions offers home automation installations for existing homes as well as new developments.

Home automation systems are the way of the future!
Home automation systems are the way of the future!

Home lighting automation

Having full control over your lighting is a benefit that comes with intelligent homes. The light control system for the home is not only wonderfully convenient but the value of your home can also be increased when you have such a system installed.

A light system for your home will enable you to turn the lights on or off from a remote location. Not only does lighting home automation increase your home’s security, it is also a great way to save energy. Your system will alert you when there are lights left on in the house and you will be able to turn them off wherever you are.

Automated lighting control systems are designed to work alongside other Green energy systems when they have been designed to comply with Green building standards. While with your standard lighting, you need to turn on each light individually; with this lighting, you have a smart light switch which can control every light in the home using just one device. This is what makes having automated lighting such a convenience in the home.

You can make your home fully automated and enjoy all of the benefits that come with having remote control over your security and your lighting. Home automation systems are the future for all homes and you can have your own intelligent system from Green Leaf Alternative Solutions.

 

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Underfloor heating: The more energy efficient option for your home

When living in a cooler area, having underfloor heating is the most economical and environmentally friendly way to heat your home. As an alternative to electrical underfloor heating, water-based underfloor heating presents those who want to live a Greener lifestyle the option of having a Green heating method. Seeing as we spend most of our time in artificial climates, both during the winter and during the summer, comfort is the most important thing to consider. Both businesses and homes can benefit from having water-based underfloor heating.

Floor heating that relies on heated water rather than electricity is not only a wonderfully healthy option but it is also a safer option for both homes and businesses. Underfloor heating systems are designed to be used in modern homes, with smart homes, in particular, benefitting from this additional smart system.

What is water underfloor heating?

The concept of providing heating to a home through the floor is not new but the latest developments have made way for environmentally friendlier options. In general, underfloor heating is the most economical way to heat your home simply because it reaches every part of your home. Unlike using individual heaters, underfloor heating provides heating beneath every floor within the home or office.

Using water to heat the floors, the method is also known as hydronic heating, only differs from electrical heating in that water is used. With water heating, a series of pipes beneath the floor boards or tiles are connected to your water heater (geyser) which then circulates warm water throughout the structure. It’s simply and easy to use, ensuring your home or office enjoys a warm winter.

The components used for water underfloor heating

  • The pipes

As mentioned, pipes are used to circulate heated water beneath your floor. Generally, the pipes will need to be laid during the construction phase of your home or office. As a part of smart, Green building, the pipes are made from environmentally safe materials and are designed to have a long lifespan. When installed, the pipes are secured to the floor to prevent movement when the water is being circulated.

  • The manifold and valves

Within the manifold, a series of valves are installed. This where the pipes will be connected and it is also the area where the temperature for each room can be controlled.

  • The thermostat

This helps to regulate the temperature automatically by opening the water circuit to release the heated water into the pipes when the temperature in the room drops below a set temperature.

  • The pump

To get the water flowing through the piping system, a pump is installed as a part of the water based underfloor heating system.

  • The heat source

The water can be heated using a number of sources including solar systems, gas geysers, electrical elements or a heat pump.

Underfloor heating is great for cooler areas.
Underfloor heating is great for cooler areas.

The advantages of having radiant floor heating

When building, one of the best decisions you will ever make is installing underfloor heating. Here are a few of the benefits that you can enjoy when installing this method of heating:

  1. Low maintenance

Considering that the piping is beneath your floorboards or tiles, it is important that the system will require as little maintenance as possible. Once the system has been fitted, it will stay in a good working condition for many years, with damage being very rare.

  1. The system is energy efficient

This means that your floor heating is not going to cost you much to run. This is a great advantage for two reasons; firstly it means that your energy bill will be kept low (that is if you are not running the system from a solar energy source) and secondly, the energy efficiency is very good for the environment. In floor heating is great at retaining heat, so your home or office is likely to stay warmer for longer even once the heating has been turned off.

While electric underfloor heating systems are also energy efficient, if you are serious about saving on your energy then the water heating system is your best option.

  1. More comfort

When your home is given consistent heating, with the temperature evenly spread throughout the building, the temperature will feel more natural and will be more comfortable.

  1. Floor heating is hygienic

No appliances to cause dampness and no place to collect dust, underfloor heating is ideal for people who suffer from allergies and who are susceptible to asthma. Radiant floor heating is beneficial in the removal of dust mites in the home.

  1. It is suitable for all kinds of floors

Whether it is under tile heating or wooden floors that you want to have, heated floors can be installed in all homes. As long as the system is properly installed, you should have no trouble and all of the benefits. Solid surfaces, however, have been proven to be more effective at equally spreading the radiant heat.

The underfloor heating price

We, at Green Leaf Alternative Solutions, aim to keep the cost of underfloor heating lower so that more people can afford the underfloor heating price. The price of the system will depend greatly on the size of the construction project. Regardless of the cost to install the system, you will be saving in the long run as your energy costs are reduced.

The team at Green Leaf Alternative Solutions is committed to helping people to live a Greener lifestyle, and we start by supplying construction companies with energy efficient water underfloor heating as well as another cost effective Green solutions.

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What to expect from solar systems in 2017

The past few years have been hugely successful for solar power. Homes and businesses alike have benefited from having solar systems installed, and the environment has benefited from the use of this clean energy. The industry itself has seen a massive drop in the price of solar panels, even though the community has not been completely supportive.

But what many people don’t know, is that in 2016 solar panels became cheaper to use than fossil fuels.

As with any renewable technology, there were bound to be a few setbacks when solar power first became a reality, but even with the few setbacks, solar power has soared ahead to remain one of the most popular sources of Green energy.

In more than 30 countries, solar and wind power became cheaper than fossil fuels in 2016, according to a report released by the World Economic Forum in 2017. And as prices for solar power continue to plummet, it is estimated that in 2017 more than two-thirds of nations on the planet will have “grid-parity” which means there will be a drop in the completely relying on fossil fuels.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement. “It is not only a commercially viable option but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

But while the support for solar power will continue to grow in 2017, investment from the rest of the globe is still not what it should be. This means that there are not enough investments coming in to avoid the looming global energy crisis. Only 25% of the investment amount decided upon at the Paris Climate Change Accord has been paid and because many of the barriers preventing the payments from being made are politically motivated, overcoming this barrier will take time and policy changes. Other factors preventing the money from being paid over include economic setbacks such as contracts not being standardised and the lack of a steady track record, drawn up by financial institutions, which needs to in place to reassure the investors.

Although this may be seen as a setback in 2017, the lowering of prices for solar power will triumph in the end, especially as solar power looks set to outperform all forms of fossil fuel energy within the next decade.

There are promising developments for solar systems in 2017
There are promising developments for solar systems in 2017

 

Solar power developments in 2017

The development of solar panels and their accompanying systems are set to go into overdrive in 2017, as we see the development of solar panels embrace technology in ways that it has not previously been seen. Solar panels are also set to become more energy efficient.

At Cambridge University, experimental physicist Sam Stranks has been trying to develop ways to make solar power less expensive to harvest and more efficient once it has been collected. His idea is to place a mineral layer of perovskite onto the solar cell which will be used to boost the efficiency of the cell.

According to Stranks, “We could take a silicon solar panel with a lab record efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity of 25 percent, add a perovskite layer, and boost the power generation by a fifth,” says the 31-year-old. “For a solar cell, the maximum efficiency is around 30 per cent – but with one of these perovskite ‘tandem’ layers it could go up to around 50 per cent.”

This is a wonderfully positive development and if it becomes successful and enjoys widespread popularity, it could become one of the important developments in solar power in 2017.

In 2017, the solar industry also hopes to see more commercial businesses transitioning towards renewable energy. There are many businesses who are serious about only using renewable energy. Take for instance Google. Just last year Google announced that they would be relying 100% on Green Energy and Green Energy initiatives in 2017. They are not the only corporate giant who is making this commitment to the planet.

2017 will be filled with new opportunities to change the way that you access and harness electricity. At Green Leaf Alternative Solutions, we can supply Green systems such as solar systems, grey water systems and LED lighting which will help you to make your own commitment towards a Greener future.

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7 Fun Facts about your Air Conditioning

Summer is well and truly upon us and with the heat bearing down on us, air conditioning in a necessity. Green Leaf Alternative Solutions offers reliable, energy efficient air conditioners in Pretoria. Spending the hot days indoors, with the cool air blowing from an air conditioner, makes getting through the summer a lot easier.

Most modern Pretoria offices are fit with air conditioners, but there are many interesting facts about air conditioners that you may not know about. The Americans are those who we have to thank for the modern air conditioners that we have today, and there have been countless innovations and inventions over the years to create the ideal cooling machine. For over 100 years air conditioners of all kinds have come and gone, but all of them have helped us get to the point of energy efficient air conditioning.

The 7 interesting facts you might not know about air cooling

  1. The movie theatre became very popular thanks to air conditioning

In 1917, air conditioners in homes and businesses were unheard of. But you could find them in movie theatres if you were living in the States. To escape the midday heat, people would flock to the movies to take full advantage of the cool air. Theatre owners bought into the appeal of going to the theatres to cool off by making sure that they marketed their air conditioners as part of the fun. Nowadays, we take our air conditioning for granted, but back in the day escaping the heat was a luxury.

  1. A giant fan

Even those living in the 1700’s sought to escape from the unpleasant summer heat. In 1736, air conditioning took on the most primal form of a gigantic fan in the British House of Commons. The fan was quite complex and required a person to manually keep it going. The person given the honour of working the fan, which meant hand cranking a blowing wheel, was given the title of the Ventilator. This man would be in charge of a 7-foot tall fan and kept those sitting in the House of Commons cooled down during their debates.

  1. An ice making machine

There are many ways to keep cool, even when you don’t have a fan or air conditioner. In 1851, the ice making machine was patented and the American invention would have been an instant hit. The problem was that ice had become an industry all on its own and with ice being transported from the northern parts of America; the machine was only to gain popularity later on.

  1. Innovations

With many inventions for cooling off being developed throughout the years, many were either slow to gain attention or never gained any attention at all. But there was one such invention that certainly gained attention and it was an ice machine which transformed a beer hall into an icy cold place to relax. The inside of the hall was turned ice cold and frost covered the pipes in the building. Needless to say, just about every person who visited, loved the idea of having a cooled off place to relax.

  1. The first home air conditioner

The first person to try out a home air conditioner was an anonymous American millionaire. He placed the air conditioner in his home in 1892 and a false wall was needed to hide the machine as it extended from the wall right into the ceiling.

With the summer sun high in the sky, having the right air conditioning in Pretoria or Johannesburg can make your summer more pleasant.
With the summer sun high in the sky, having the right air conditioning in Pretoria or Johannesburg can make your summer more pleasant.

 

  1. The first commercial air conditioners

Could you imagine the excitement of the people who were the first to have air conditioning installed in their workplaces? In 1899 and 1903, the first commercial sized cooling systems were placed in public areas and worked to keep the spaces cooled off while they would also serve to ventilate the rooms.

  1. The 1950’s boom

The 1950’s was the decade in which air conditioners became immensely popular. Within 3 years, over a million air conditioners designed as units to cool off rooms, had been sold. By 1998, over 6.2 million air conditioners had been sold in the USA and some were shipped to other places around the world.

You might look at your air conditioner in Pretoria and think that it is nothing special, but the system that you are looking at is the product of a century of ideas, innovations and hard work.

You can buy environmentally friendly air conditioners in Pretoria and Johannesburg from Green Leaf Alternative Solutions.

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These energy efficient communities are changing the world!

From the world’s biggest cities to the smallest villages, a wave of Green thinking is taking place. Not only is climate change real but it is also changing the way that we approach energy. By accessing your electricity through solar panels or by undertaking water harvesting, you will not only be helping the planet and your community, but you will also be helping yourself.

We often think that climate change is someone else’s battle, but the reality is that not one of us can escape climate change. It makes sense to be involved; to be a part of the efforts to turn around the effects of climate change while also ensuring that you are dependent on nothing other than your Green investments.

Small towns can set up their renewable energy systems far more efficiently than bigger cities, as there are fewer people to cater for. And smaller towns are taking advantage of their sizes to implement working energy strategies.

These are the ways that small towns have turned to renewable energy as the main way to generate energy.

  • The town that rebuilt itself (Greensburg, Kansas, United States)

The USA is known for some devastating weather patterns.  In central America, tornados are always a danger during the late summer months. In 2007, a tornado tore through Greensburg and leveled the buildings forcing residents to either give up their demolished homes and move to a new town or rebuild. True to the American spirit the town’s residents chose to rebuild their town.

And they did so by using 100% renewable electricity.

They became the second American town to go 100% Green with their electricity and they have been able to successfully start over. They have included LED street lights and wind technology as a means to keep energy costs low and renewable.

  • The solar powered oasis town in Egypt

Solar panels have a bad reputation in Egypt, not because there is any doubt about the efficiency of the technology, but rather because many people consider the solar panels to be a bit of an eyesore. That being said, an oasis on the outskirts of Cairo, where agriculture is prominent, has gone solar to power their seasonal farming.

Towns built around oasis', such as this one in Peru, rely on solar power which is abundant in Egypt.
Towns built around oasis’, such as this one in Peru, rely on solar power which is abundant in Egypt.

The buildings here have been constructed with solar panels and solar systems, so those living in the Tayebat Workers Village are Egypt’s first community relying fully on green energy.

Egypt is one of the ideal places to harvest sun energy, with an abundance of sun shining on the desert landscape each day.

  • Ashton Hayes, Great Britain

Solar power and the UK might not have the strongest relationship, but there are some towns in the United Kingdom that are actually light years ahead when it comes to going Green. Ashton Hayes is the perfect example of how people can change their whole lifestyle, becoming Greener even when they are not relying fully on solar power.

This community undertook the task of reducing the amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere. So they improved the insulation in their homes so that they relied less on heating, they took fewer flights and they reduced the amount of energy they used in their homes. Through a combination of their efforts, they managed to reduce their carbon footprint by up to 40%.

Their efforts have inspired up to 200 other towns around the world to replicate the simple ways in which they have managed to reduce their carbon.

  • The Island of Tristan da Cunha

Only 8 times a year can you undertake the week long sea crossing from Cape Town to get to this tiny, eco-efficient island. The island imports almost nothing, its residents depend on themselves to get things done and they are quickly working towards relying fully on the environment to provide them with the energy needed to live comfortably. Their goal is to have 30% – 40% of their energy supplied by nature within the next 5 years.

They plan to become more sustainable by relying on community farming projects, wind farming, and initiatives to turn waste into energy.

As more towns see the benefits of sustainable energy, we are sure to see more towns and cities becoming fully reliant on nature. Who knows what developments the future holds?

Looking to Go Green in your home or business? Contact Green Leaf Alternative Solutions.  Here at Green Leaf, advice is always free.  Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions you may have about your journey to sustainability!

 

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What to know before you buy solar lighting

Solar lights are one of the recent and perhaps less known developments in the Green industry, as well as in lighting industry, and follow on from the already popular solar technology that is currently being used by people all over the world. Solar lighting is great for outdoor areas at home and for public settings alike, providing stable light without the hassle of connecting wires. With this lighting, you will not be left in the dark with power outages. And this is just one reason why it is worth changing the way that you light your garden, the outside of your home or for your parking areas.

What are solar lights?

As with all of the other solar powered appliances and devices, solar lights are rechargeable products which are powered by the sun. Solar lights are powered by a photovoltaic system which includes a solar panel to catch solar light during the day.

This light energy is then stored until it is needed after the sun sets later in the day.

The most common areas in which this lighting is used is outdoors, where the light can charge for an entire day. Outdoor garden lights can be placed anywhere in the garden, unlike conventional lighting which will require wiring and therefore a little more consideration as to where the lighting will be placed. These outdoor lights are a fantastic option if you are looking for cost effective security lighting or if you are simply looking for an effective way to light your path at night. This form of lighting can also be decorated in certain ways, adding a certain aesthetic appeal to your landscape.

Solar street lights and lighting for parking areas are also an option to look at when you want an environmentally friendly and affordable way to provide enough lighting to darkened areas. Solar lights have also been used to light billboards at night.

As solar lights are known to be used as decorative features, this form of lighting comes in all kinds of designs and colours. This is what makes these lights great for parties and other get-togethers.

The sun provides all of the energy needed to power your solar garden lights.
The sun provides all of the energy needed to power your solar garden lights.

How do solar lights work?

With the PV system attached, solar lights generate their own electricity in the exact way that other solar power is made. To put it simply, when the sun shines on the panel, the electrons become, for want of a better word, excited. This process is what generates the power that keeps the light shining throughout the night. The system also includes a solar battery to store power. The panel is far smaller than the one you’d normally see on a solar PV system on top of a home’s roof. In this case, the panel is usually small enough to fit the top of the light.

The following morning, when the light energy has run out, the process will repeat itself all through the day and be recharged and ready to light up again the next night.

Why use solar lighting?

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to light an area, and you don’t want to have to pay out or deal with having to have the wiring seen to and the devices installed, then solar lighting can be the better option.

Solar lighting is basically lighting for free as once the initial setup is done, you will never have to pay for the light that you get. Free lighting to massive areas is certainly worth it once you have decided to install these lights.

Here are a few other reasons why solar lights should be something you consider:

  • The energy is 100% free, clean and renewable.
  • You don’t have to worry about the lighting being damaged. These devices are made from durable materials.
  • If you are already looking for a way to make your entire lifestyle Green, then this is another step you can take.
  • Solar lights can be installed just about anywhere, so long as they receive sunlight.
  • The installation process is wonderfully simple and you will be able to do it yourself.
  • You will be saving on your monthly costs by not having to pay out anything extra each month to have this lighting.

Solar lights, along with solar geysers and solar systems, are the more cost-effective option to go with and in the long run, you are going to be happy that you made the decision to install these versatile lights. If you have any questions or want to install this lighting, you can contact Green Leaf Alternative Solutions. We can give you great advice about which lights to choose as well as other ways to live a Greener lifestyle.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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This is what you need to know before you buy a grey water system

During water shortages, such as the one we are currently experiencing in Gauteng, having a grey water system in place to save and store water is certainly something that every person, not just someone who wants to Go Green, should be looking at. Each day we are all responsible for wasting copious amounts of water; it runs down the drain instead of being used for another purpose. The water that we are wasting is known as grey water and if you were to change the way that you look at this water, and the way that you use it, you will find yourself saving more than you have ever before.

What is grey water?

It might be a phrase you have heard of before, but some clarity might be needed to know exactly what it is.  Grey water consists of bath water, shower water, water from your laundry, and water from the sink.   The grey water is then recycled and used for irrigation in the garden.

Grey water recycling systems are arguably one of the very best ways to reduce your water consumption without having to make a drastic lifestyle change. And in a dry nation such as ours, having a grey water system in place is going to make a noticeable difference in the amount of tap water you use.

Grey water systems are by no means the only kind of water recycling system available.

Buffer tanks (also called backup tanks), portable water solutions, rainwater harvesting systems and septic tanks, are all water recycling methods that are available. These systems are relatively affordable, and since they will be saving you money, they are great systems to consider.

Backup tanks are great when paired with a grey water system seeing as the buffer tank can store clean water for consumption during shortages or cuts while the grey water recycling system will provide water for all of your irrigation needs. Grey water tanks are designed to accompany the system. Should you need to store water, the tank is there, while with some systems the tank is the final holding place for collected water before it is released.

And such systems are not just for the farm or for rural areas, they are equally fantastic for homes in urban areas. Once you have a water recycling system set up, you will never lose sleep or suffer from the frustration of running dry.

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Every drop counts. With a grey water system installed nothing goes to waste.
Every drop counts. With a grey water system installed nothing goes to waste.

Why should you recycle grey water?

It is a fair question to ask. Right now you might not notice the effects of the drought but even when the water supply is not an issue, you should be thinking about how you can save.

Did you know that in a home of 4 people, on average up to 3000 litres of water can go to waste almost unnoticed?

You should recycle grey water because every drop of water is precious. We live in a country where drought is a part of life and where water costs can be outrageously high, so saving wherever you can will do no harm and can only benefit you!

These are just a few of the other ways that you can benefit from having a grey water recycling system:

  • Grey water can completely replace the need to use tap water to keep the garden green and lush. It can also be used within the home to flush toilets.
  • By recycling grey water you can expect to see a reduction in your potable water use by up to 40%.
  • You can instantly start saving money by having a smaller monthly water bill.
  • You will never again have to worry about your garden going thirsty during a drought.

What are grey water systems and how do grey water systems work?

A grey water system is an uncomplicated system designed to transport your grey water away from the drains and into your garden, toilet or tank. The grey water system works through a series of pipes and a pump, all resistant to corrosion and designed with efficiency in mind. With a pump placed in the surge tank, the grey water system swiftly moves the water to where it needs to be.

Once you have a grey water filter system in place, you will start to gain a better understanding of where your household water goes each month.

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Rainwater harvesting along with using a grey water system will drastically reduce your monthly water account
Rainwater harvesting along with using a grey water system will drastically reduce your monthly water account.

What can grey water be used for and how does grey water affect plants?

One of the biggest uses of grey water is plant irrigation. Keeping your garden alive is possible with grey water as the water will have little effect on the plants. It is for this reason that one of the benefits listed above is watering gardens. But it is not just the flowers that will be kept alive. You can use this water to irrigate vegetables and fruits, with no harm done to the plants. If you are Going Green with a sustainable grey water system, why not also consider growing your own vegetables?

You should recycle grey water, not only will you be doing yourself a favour but you will also be looking after the environment and contribute with a water solution of your very own.

Green Leaf Alternative Solutions has everything you need to transform the way that you use water. Contact us today for an affordable quote or to find out more about how to recycle grey water.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Can we create fuel using man-made photosynthesis?

Is the traditional way of producing petrol about to change forever? If new scientific research has its way, this is definitely a possibility.

The focus is again on climate change, well actually the focus has never really moved away. Climate change is happening rapidly around us, all the time. But while scientists and policy makers might differ on a number of fronts, the one thing that they can all agree upon is that carbon dioxide is the main culprit.  It’s this gas emission that has inspired the latest developments in Green technology.

At the University of Illinois in Chicago, scientists have come up with a way to mimic the process of photosynthesis in plants by converting Co2 into fuel. Basically, they have engineered photosynthesis outside of nature.

The technology that is being used is designed to mimic a plant by absorbing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere before turning it into glucose and oxygen by using water. This interesting development could be used in future to provide fuel for cars while it could also be used on a grander scale to help revert the damage done by climate change.

The loss of trees and climate change

Before the current energy saving technology was mainstream, technology such as solar panels and LED lighting, trees were our first defence against the harsh effects of climate change. Planting trees and preserving the planet’s forests were critical in reducing the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere. But as you already know, the forests are not as well preserved and what is left is no longer enough to combat the change.

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The process of photosynthesis is a regular part of nature. Scientists have found a way to mimic this method and use it to create renewable, environmentally friendly fuel.
The process of photosynthesis is a regular part of nature. Scientists have found a way to mimic this method and use it to create renewable, environmentally friendly fuel.

It is not just through the process of photosynthesis that carbon dioxide is removed from the air. Think of trees as a reservoir for storing carbon dioxide. So when forests are torn and burned down, this stored carbon dioxide is then released back into the atmosphere, to a devastating effect.

Imagine the change that could be achieved if man-made photosynthesis was able to remove large amounts of Co2 from our atmosphere in light of the deforestation? It might be a long shot, but it is definitely something worth trying.

New world technology for new fuel made from the photosynthesis

Man-made photosynthesis is one of the newer ways that scientists are attempting to rid the world of its overabundance of harmful carbon emissions and as the latest in Green technology it is bound to become a part of the machinery for combating climate change.

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Trees not only "breathe" in Co2 but they are also natural storage vessels for the gas.
Trees not only “breathe” in Co2 but they are also natural storage vessels for the gas.

The technology that scientists have created takes the form of an artificial leaf. And once it has absorbed the carbon dioxide it converts the gas into carbon monoxide, which is then used to create fuel.

 

This is the first time that the method has been used to create fuel. In fact, the by-products of this procedure could even be converted into diesel and who knows what else it could be used for in future.

And the newer processes are also expected to be more cost-effective, which means that it could result in an end to the traditional production of fuel.

The future is looking Greener and cleaner, but the process of introducing this technology to the mainstream world is bound to take time. But this doesn’t mean that you are without your options when you are looking for an alternative, sustainable energy production. Solar power, created by using solar panels and solar geysers, is one of the simplest ways that you can change the way that you use energy.

With Green Leaf Alternative Solutions’ high-quality solar panels, solar geysers and a number of other options for you to use when building or when you are looking to take the sustainable approach to your energy, you can help the environment.

Have a look at what we have available by visiting our website at www.greenleafalternativesolutions.co.za or by contacting us.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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The Living Building Challenge: Designs for the Future

Imagine a world where sustainable energy and sustainable living is free for everyone. Sustainable in the way that we can be fully reliant on renewable energy to supply us with everything we would normally get from non-sustainable energy? This is a future which could become a reality should the exciting new concept of living buildings takes over.

As a part of the Green Architecture industry, living buildings are becoming a popular way for people to Go Green. Sometimes the term living building is applied to a home that has features such as solar panels and solar geysers to produce energy from the sun, but a living building is not just a structure that has solar systems.

Living buildings are designed to be 100% dependent on nature.

Living buildings are pushing designers and architects to their limits and encouraging them to think beyond their usual ideas of building homes or other structures. Sustainable building is certainly not a new concept, but living buildings are in many ways new as the focus is on the home as a whole and not just on the way that electricity is produced.

Your home is your ecosystem with the Living Building Challenge

A few years back, the Living Building Challenge was launched and the concept gained plenty of attention.  The entire concept is based on a flower, which takes energy from the earth to be able to blossom and grow.

Today, after a couple of years, the Living Building Challenge is pushing design forward and paving the way for an energy sustainable future for everyone. Some of the features that contribute to building a fully sustainable building include installing solar panels, sustainable heating and cooling systems, rain gardens to harvest water, a natural filter to clean and reuse wastewater, and natural sunlight for the interior, while the entire structure itself is built with environmentally sustainable, eco-friendly materials.

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Living homes make use of solar power and grey water systems along with a number of other systems.
Living homes make use of solar power and grey water systems along with a number of other systems.

These structures use no more energy than they are able to produce themselves. This means that energy is easily saved because it is always used sparingly. These kinds of Green buildings are the toughest out there, you will not find a structure more committed to renewable energy.

A basic look at how the living building works according to the Living Building Challenge

Energy, that is the electricity that is required to keep the place functioning, is generated using solar power. The dedication to Green energy starts when the building is under construction as a solar system is set up to generate enough electricity to complete the project. As with other solar systems, any unused energy goes back into the national grid.

Water is collected from the building as well. The run off from the roof is gathered from any rain or other precipitation and any grey water can be used for the irrigation of plants. Black water is also collected and both the grey water and the black water are treated on site, within the building.

On the inside, the focus is on living well and ensuring that the inhabitants enjoy a healthy life. Plants are used within the home to treat grey water as well as to provide clean air to the interior. Indoor lighting during the day comes naturally from the sun.

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One day we might be once more reliant on nature to provide for all of our energy needs.
One day we might be once more reliant on nature to provide for all of our energy needs.

To ensure that the structures are able to continue to provide for the inhabitants and designers need to prove that their buildings are dependent on nature alone.

Is the future really going to feature living buildings? This is almost a certainty so long as the designs can be proved to be sustainable. The future of the Green industry certainly looks interesting, who knows what envelopes will soon be pushed? What do you think?

Green Leaf Alternative Solutions is a Green contracting company dedicated to sustainable building methods and building products such as solar geysers, solar panels, grey water recycling systems and energy efficient lighting. You can find out more about us by visiting our website at http://www.greenleafalternativesolutions.co.za/ or by contacting us at info@leafas.co.za

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Energy efficient air conditioning: is it possible?

The short answer to this question is that of course it is possible to have energy efficient air conditioning.

It is all dependent on the type of air conditioning that you buy and the way that you use it. In this article, we are going to discuss the ways that you can save with your air conditioning.

Not only does Pretoria have very hot summers, but all of those massive buildings are oftentimes notorious for not letting in enough air. So many living and working in the city rely on air conditioning, both at the workplace and at home. Not only does air conditioning cool off the heat and provide some fresh air, but for companies that have plenty of computers running all day and night, an air conditioner can be incredibly important for keeping the company going.

But air conditioners can be very expensive to run when you are relying on them for hours at a time. For this reason, you are unlikely to be the only one in Pretoria who is searching for energy efficient air conditioning. Energy efficient air conditioning is able to save up to 70% of the energy needed to power the normal air conditioner, and this means that money is going to be saved.

Before there was air conditioning

Before we had air conditioning, humans had to adapt to their surrounds and change their habits so that they didn’t overheat in the intensity of the summer heat. Most times, the midday heat would drive people to the shelter of their homes, where they would relax away from the heat until it was cool enough for them to come out and work again. But these days are certainly long gone.

Today, business rules. And any time not spent working during the average week will mean money lost. And while fans have in the past provided some reprise from the heat, air conditioning is the real winner in the battle against the heat. Energy efficient air conditioning is not only going to save your money but it will also go a long way towards saving the environment. As it uses less energy, fewer harmful pollutants will be let loose into the environment.

The costs of air conditioning

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Investing in an energy efficient air conditioner can help you save power and contribute to a greener society.
Investing in an energy efficient air conditioner can help you save power and contribute to a greener society.

The conventional air conditioners have a number of hidden costs and many of them you might not even realise are there. The costs that we are talking about are not related to price, even the first thing you might think about when you see the word costs would be money. Air conditioners, those often found in older buildings in Pretoria, that are not eco-friendly and energy efficient are going to cost the environment as their often heavy duty uses will mean more burning of fossil fuels. Here are a few of the costs that you should consider:

  • The ecological costs

The very thing that is responsible for keeping air conditioners running is also responsible for causing some serious damage to the ozone layer. As the world is heating up with global warming, people are turning up their air conditioning to keep cool. Sadly this very effect is causing further damage to the environment as more fossil fuels are being burned.

  • The social costs

Being fully dependent on the cool provided by air conditioners contributes to people not getting outdoors more during the days when it is very hot. People end up walking less and spending more time indoors. This means that for some people there can be social costs involved with having air conditioning.

  • The financial costs

One of the biggest costs related to an air conditioning system is the financial one. Often a business will let their system run for all hours of the day and night, especially in those places that do not have fresh air coming in. And during the summer months, the price of running the air conditioner will be pushed up even more so. When you are opting for a more eco-friendly option then you are guaranteed to be saving your money as your air conditioner will be using less power than before.

How you can contribute to making your air conditioner more energy efficient

There are a number of things that you can do for your home to help make your air conditioner more energy efficient. While having an eco-friendly air conditioner is a great way to save money and energy, by doing these few things you can have an even more efficient air conditioning system.

  • Take into consideration that you need to make sure that your air conditioning is appropriate to the size of your home. You will also need to take into consideration the size of your rooms and how many people are living in the home.
  • Proper maintenance is needed for you to make sure that your air conditioning is not wasting energy somewhere. Many homeowners don’t do proper maintenance on their air conditioners and end up spending more money than usual to keep their home or business cooled off.
  • It might seem like a competitive partnership, but by pairing your air conditioning with ceiling fans, you will be contributing to the efficiency of your cooling system. Fans will push the cool air throughout the home and since they are not a drain on your electricity, you will not be wasting your money.
  • If your home or business has lots of windows, that intense summer heat is going to pour in and heat up the building tremendously. When this happens you might want to turn up your air conditioner to keep things cool, and then end up wasting energy. For this reason, it is important to have shades in your windows when you want to lower the cost of your air conditioning.

With the right air conditioner, your summer is going to be a cooled off, pleasant season. And you won’t have to worry about spending any extra money. At Green Leaf Alternative Solutions, we have a range of energy efficient systems that will have you noticeably saving money. As a Green Technology contractor, we can transform your household or business, turning it into an energy saving haven.

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