RG Construction

A Greener Home Starts with a Mindset Shift

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The most difficult hurdle in making homes more energy efficient? Changing people’s mindsets. 

It’s a shift that Greenrock has long been pushing for and one it feels needs to happen if Bermuda is serious about mitigating its environmental footprint. 

“For years we have developed, we have innovated and all of these things are great, we have some amazing technology. The challenge is that a lot of these technologies have been built without considering social and environmental implications,” said Eugene Dean, the charity’s chairman. 

“And so now what we’re facing is a time period where we’re having to deal with, in many cases, catastrophic challenges that our development, industry and innovation created. If you want to get back to a place of sustainability, then that means we need to start to factor those things into our thinking.” 

While it is easier to incorporate energy savers into new builds and renovations there are also ways to improve efficiency in existing homes. 

“The challenge in Bermuda is when you’re looking at a leaky home where air is able to come in or go out, where we’re either letting hot or cold air in or allowing heat or cooling to escape,” Mr Dean said. 

“So when you’re building houses in Bermuda or renovating houses making sure the doors have proper seals, making sure the windows have proper seals, all that type of stuff is really critical.” 

Solar panels are big ticket items that will bring down electricity bills. Having windows that allow in a lot of natural light also helps. Mr Dean believes energy monitor plugs which measure the cost of running appliances are useful. 

“They will let you know how much power the device is using over time. Simple things like putting timers on your water heater also makes a huge difference. 

“And obviously people know now about using LED lights rather than incandescent lights and turning off appliances when they’re not using them.” 

Entertainment centres, sound systems and computers should all be unplugged when you leave home. 

“We’ve got into this thing where we leave TVs on all night and that’s considered normal. Back in the day we had shilling meters where you had to put money in and when the money ran out the power turned off. People were more mindful of what they were using.” 

Had Belco bills existed at that time, there would not have been any surprises, Mr Dean said. 

“With the shilling meter you leave something on, you wake up the next day and there’s no power. So you know right away that you need to change the behaviour.” 

For people interested in lessening their environmental impact, recycling and composting “significantly” reduce waste but most people don’t bother because garbage collectors make disposal convenient for them. 

“Some people will say it doesn’t really make a difference to their house but it makes a difference to the whole country when we’re reducing our waste and it makes a difference to the whole world if everyone is reducing their waste. 

“All this trash that we create, we just put it onto the road and somebody else has to deal with it. How many people are going down to the waste management department? How many people are going to the incinerator and seeing what’s happening? How many people are testing the quality of the air that’s coming out of the incinerator, and the harmful chemicals that are being pumped into the environment?” 

By now everyone should be used to walking around with a shopping bag rather than relying on a store to package their purchases; in restaurants it should be common practice for customers to present reusable containers for takeout. 

People once laid out their best dishes when they had guests for dinner. Today we’re more focused on the ease that plastic offers. 

Where we once gardened and took care of soil health we now rely on chemicals if we bother to garden at all. 

“A lot of these things people might say, ‘Oh that’s just a little thing, what difference does it make?’ Trust me, takeout containers have made a huge difference in the amount of trash that’s generated on the island. To get to a place where we avoid using all those single-use containers would have a huge impact. 

“But the main benefit of a healthy sustainable household is the fact that you’re producing individuals that then go out into the community and incorporate that type of mindset, that type of thinking into what they do every single day.” 

It’s up to us as a community to advocate for that to happen, Mr Dean said. 

At Greenrock’s Living Green Expo last month, a presenter warned of toxic loads – chemicals we ingest from our environment, food, water, household products and toiletries. If we want healthful things around us we need to exercise our spending power, Mr Dean said. 

“The business sector is driven by what we choose to consume. We may look at it as if we don’t have a lot to choose from the things that businesses make available but we dictate what businesses make available. People are not going to produce things that don’t sell.” 

It’s in that same vein that residents should champion renewable energy, he said. 

“At Greenrock we’ve embarked upon a feasibility study for offshore wind because we know the harms that are being caused by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have allowed us to develop some amazing innovations and have transformed the way that we exist. However now we’re well beyond the point where we recognise the downside of the fuel we’re using. 

“We’re not saying that we want to get rid of planes or we want to get rid of cars or we want to get rid of electricity. What we’re saying is we’re now faced with the challenge of how we adopt this technology in a way that we can still utilise it without the harmful emissions. We need to move out of a mindset that’s focused on convenience and move into a mindset that has us focused on optimising our quality of life.” n 

Write A Comment