So we already know that using shipping containers for constructing buildings is environmentally friendly. In a recent survey, we found that the two most common reasons people want to live in a container home are because they are affordable and Eco-friendly. Read more about that here.
Let’s discuss some ways that you can make your shipping container homes even more Eco-friendly?
Lower Your Temperature
Do you really need to walk around inside during the winter wearing only shorts and a t-shirt? If you turn the thermostat down and slightly reduce the temperature of your hot water, you could save yourself money and reduce your carbon emissions!
Use Your Garden
Another great way to improve the Eco friendliness of your container is to create a compost pile either in your kitchen, by using a compost pail or bin, or in your garden.
Lots of daily items we throw into the bin could instead be placed on a compost pile. Things like vegetable peels, fruit, tea bags, cotton clothes and more, can all be recycled.
Around 30% of garbage we toss each week could be composted instead. This would be very good for the environment. By using a compost pile instead of a landfill it stops the buildup of methane gas.
If you don’t have enough room in your garden for a compost pile you can purchase a compost bin and place this on your driveway. Once the scraps have rotted down, you have a rich compost which can be used to sprinkle on your plants and trees.
In addition to having a compost pile, why not try to grow your own food in your garden! Growing your own vegetables can save a huge amount of carbon dioxide emissions! You get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve grown your own food and that it is fresh.
Switch Off Your Appliances
A tremendous amount of electricity is wasted by electronic devices left on standby. For example, many people with game consoles leave them on standby. This is true for most of our instant-on appliances. Turning these off at the plug when they are not in use will save you money.
If you are more serious about reducing your carbon footprint, then consider upgrading your old appliances for energy star rated ones. Energy Star products use anywhere from 10-50% less energy than standard models.
Change out any incandescent light bulbs for a CFL bulb (compact fluorescent lamp) or an LED bulb. This significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to the lower electricity consumption.
Use Eco-Friendly Insulation
Both what you use for insulating your container and where you insulate your container can make a massive difference to the environment.
Let’s start with which insulation to use.
Instead of using traditional fiberglass blanket insulation in the roof of your container, why not consider using a natural alternative like cotton insulation or GreenFiber Cocoon? GreenFiber Cocoon is created out of recycled newspaper and is relatively inexpensive.
If cotton isn’t your style, you could use straw to insulate your walls. La Milpa, a Mexican school, has recently built large sections of their school out of shipping containers. They insulated the walls with straw.
Now, let’s talk about where to insulate.
Although it’s tempting when constructing a container home to save money to only insulate your walls, in the long run, this isn’t Eco-friendly and will almost certainly cost you more money.
Instead, you should insulate the walls, roof and underneath the container.
To insulate the underneath and walls of your containers, most of the time we’d opt for spray foam insulation. It can depend on the climate and individual circumstances. To insulate the roof, we’d choose one of the Eco-friendly options mentioned above.
Insulation is not inexpensive but can pay you back in reduced heating and cooling bills within a few years.
Install Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Depending on where you live, a typical solar panel system can save you an impressive amount of money off your yearly electricity bill.
In order to get the best value out of solar panels, it is best to have a south-facing roof, ideally with no shade. If your roof has some shade, this isn’t a problem, but it needs to have clear sunlight on it for most of the day.
If you are seriously considering solar panels, you can ask the supplier to test your home first and they will give you an estimation of how much energy they expect the solar panels on your roof will produce.
© Larry Wade
Use Local Building Materials
A great way to cut down on your carbon footprint is to source your building materials locally. This will be easier for some of you than others.
If you live in Canada and are using oak to clad the external skin of your container, fantastic! But if you live in Dubai and you want to do the same, this will require you to source your materials from a long distance which would greatly increase your carbon footprint. So, using your good judgment, investigate local materials that are similar that you could use instead.
This applies to building materials and also applies to the food you purchase. Try to only eat locally grown produce wherever possible.
Quick Closing Points
- Using carpets on wooden floors can save around 4-6% on heating bills
- Make sure your fridge is in the shade
- Make sure your bedding sheets are made from wool and not polyester
- Instead of taking a bath, try a quick shower to save water
- Use an Eco-friendly kettle or limit the boiling of water
- Wash clothes in cold water instead of warm water
- Don’t replace broken things, but instead try to repair them
- Make sure any drafty areas found in your container are sealed
- Replace any single glazed windows with double glazed windows
Do you have any other great tips about how to make your shipping container home more Eco-friendly? Tell us in the comments section below.