9 Ways to Make Your Home Greener

A small change can make a huge difference when it comes to leading a greener life, not to mention have a positive impact on the environment, too. In fact, the perfect place to make these changes is within your own home.

We’ve pulled together some handy tips on how you can make some changes in your abode to benefit from a greener lifestyle, which go well beyond paper, plastic and glass.

  1. Replace Lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can really do wonders for saving energy in the home. Better still, these kinds of lightbulbs have a longer lifespan than regular ones. Simply swapping your regular lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs really is the way to go.
  2. Ditch the Dishwasher. It’s time to don your marigolds and get stuck into some good, old-fashioned washing up. Did you know the average dishwasher uses an astonishing 49 litres of water per cycle? So, fill up the washing up bowl, squirt in some washing up liquid and save some energy. If you do use a dishwasher, be sure to scrape off leftover food into the bin, as this will save water. And try not to use pre-rinse.
  3. Turn Off Electrical Appliances. You can save £30 a year, just by switching off electrical appliances. Even just turning off your laptop, the toaster, kettle or TV for the night can really cut costs. You can make things all the simpler by using a standby saver which basically enables you to turn them off, all at once.
  4. Switch off Lights. Forgetful when it comes to turning off lights? Fit movement sensors so lights only activate when required. Alternatively, you can save energy by fitting automatic timers for lights that are regularly left on in empty rooms.
  5. Set the Right Cooling Temperature. Did you know your fridge and freezer use the most energy in the house? Make sure they aren’t being used more than necessary. For example, fridges operate perfectly at around 37°F (3°C) whiles freezers function well set at 0° F (-18° C). And don’t forget to keep fridge and freezer doors shut. Even leaving them open for just a couple of seconds can waste loads of electricity.
  6. Make Your House Move Greener. When it comes to selling your home fast and reducing your carbon footprint, make your move greener by using recycled boxes rather than purchasing brand new ones. Alternatively, ask friends if they have any extra boxes from their last move. Or you could head to a local village shop, farmer’s market or coffee shop to ask if they’ll give you one of their boxes. You could even use your own blankets to protect fragile items such as mirrors or pictures.
  7. Fix Leaks. Make your house as leak-free as you possibly can by plugging, insulating, caulking, sealing or repairing leaks. You’ll soon see a significant cut in your energy prices.
  8. Plant Power. Bring some living plants indoors to rid the inside air of pollutants. By growing plants in your living space, the indoor air will become like a natural filter. Even better, some plants can soak up damaging toxins released from carpets, electronic equipment or furniture. Opt for rubber plants, palm trees or spider plants.
  9. Plump for Eco-Friendly Cleaners. Instead of choosing harsh chemical cleaners, which can contribute to health problems, choose non-toxic cleaners. There are quite a few biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products available in the supermarkets, all of which are a more natural way to clean. Even better? Make your own out of baking soda or use natural disinfectants, such as citrus oils or tea tree.

Making Rational Investment Decisions

Bias can have a powerful effect on our decision-making process when investing in unit trusts. If someone tosses a coin 10 times in a row and each time it lands on heads, then what would your choice for the 11th toss be? You may assume that the trend continues and call heads or, believing the trend will buck, you choose tails. Statistically though, there is still a 50% chance that it will land on either heads or tails.

Bias is the reason most of us tend to choose either heads or tails. When we are presented with information, we tend to interpret it according to our personal biases. Our biases and our reaction to the information may prove detrimental when we apply it to investments.

As a counter example; consider an opaque bag containing 50 white and 50 black marbles. If 10 black marbles were removed from the bag, what colour would the 11th marble be? Most of us would say white since the probability of picking out a white one is higher (50 of the 90 remaining marbles are white) than picking a black marble. Unlike the example of the coin toss above, the information we are presented with between removing the 1st and 10th marble is relevant in guiding our choices for the 11th marble.

Emotions may hinder investment success

Heuristics are shortcuts our minds develop that allow us to analyse information and rapidly make decisions. They make our lives easier, but may also lead to errors in judgement.

Scientists have identified over 100 behavioural biases. These include: Confirmation bias, which means we search for information to support our views or beliefs and over-extrapolation, which occurs when we depend too much on a particular piece of information. The more common biases we all experience are fear, overconfidence and greed.

These biases may affect your behaviour, and therefore your success, as an investor.

A good example is the investor behaviour surrounding the global financial crisis. In South Africa, the stock market yielded returns of close to 36% per year for the 5 years prior to the crash in 2008. This lured investors in droves. Many investors paid overly inflated prices, by investing at the top of the market. Then followed one of the worst sell offs in market history. Approximately R9 Billion was withdrawn from property unit trusts and equity in the first three quarters of 2008 as fear-gripped investors exited the market. This meant that investors locked in their losses.

Try not to lose your head

Investors who remain calm during times of uncertainty are often rewarded for their patience. An investment at the peak of the market in May 2008, would have incurred significant losses by November 2008. But this is not the full picture as the market recovered 2 ½ years later and any investors who did not succumb to their emotions made back any losses and, in absolute terms, more than doubled their money by September 2016.

Don’t toss coins, pick marbles

Many people who invest use the same heuristics as they do for the random coin toss. This often results in a poor outcome. However, assessing information and using it where relevant (i.e. the marble in the bag approach) tends to yield better results.

How can we overwrite these biases? Believing the investment philosophy developed by your investment manager and understanding the unit trust you invest in makes it a bit easier to sit through market fluctuations. This allows you to benefit from the upswing when it does come around. Rational thought over emotional response is vital to a successful investment.

Find an investment strategy that is tailored to your needs, risk tolerance and time horizon. This will help take the emotional element out of your decision-making. Long-term strategies should not change if markets are volatile. An independent financial advisor can help you stay focused on your goals even when your emotions threaten to overpower you.