People are nowadays becoming more and more aware of terms such as 'efficiency' and 'eco-friendly'. But an efficient lifestyle does not mean you have to compromise on the comforts of life. We can still enjoy life while also being efficient about it.
Many modern day devices, appliances and consumer electronics, as well as household items, are becoming increasingly efficient when it comes to being eco-friendly and yet retain most of the functionality and effectiveness that you would associate with traditional products.
However, in an ocean of efficient devices, it often gets confusing for consumers to pick the right device. The Business Standard decided to help out those who care for the environment but also love their creature comfort.
First of all, when looking to buy household products, look out for the Energy Star rating, which is the globally accepted standard of appliance/device efficiency. These devices come with the Energy Star logo.
Also look for 'inverter technology' when buying heavy appliances like refrigerators, air-conditioners and washing machines. This relatively new technology helps cut down up to 60% energy consumption.
Leading brands such LG, Samsung, Hitachi, Toshiba, Bosch, Sharp, which are available at different outlets in Bangladesh, have a range of products in different categories that have been built using inverter technology to make them energy efficient.
LG has a number of refrigerators, including the LG GL-M492GLDL and GCB-244PN, which have the inverter technology, and can cost an additional Tk7,000 to Tk10,000 more than a regular refrigerator.
Inverter air-conditioners like the Samsung's AR18TVHYDWKUFE or General's AWHZ18LBC, priced at around Tk72,000 and Tk80,000, will cost you a shade higher than non-inverters.
For washing machines, Sharp's ES-F100G and ES-F120G are good options priced at around Tk39,000 and Tk44,000, costing Tk10,000 more than non-inverter ones.
That means inverter integrated appliances will cost Tk7,000 to Tk10,000 more than the same model base unit.
Natural lights and cross ventilation
Because of the population density of Dhaka, almost all of us - irrespective of the income bracket - live in multistoried apartments. And there are almost no green spaces left in the city, especially in residential blocks.
However, there are ways you can still ensure more natural light and air in your apartment.
"Dhaka has already maxed out of living space. But the new buildings could still apply simple yet natural methods to reduce dependency on electric lights and cooling systems," said architect and development practitioner, Ahmed bin Parvez.
"We, as architects, now turn to the sky and design buildings taller than the surrounding ones to balance the offset. That way we can design with as many windows as we want in whatever orientation to make room for cross-ventilation."
According to Parvez, more openings mean less obstruction for both light to enter and air to flow. The south wind can only be channelled through a house if there are enough openings on opposite ends.
But more light entering can also mean houses heating up unnecessarily. In that case, you could use double laminated glass for windows that keep the heat out but let the light in.
Energy-efficient lighting and cooling
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights help deliver brilliant lighting for almost a fifth of the energy used by a typical filament bulb. Philips, Syska and Havells sell the best LED lighting solutions in Bangladesh.
A Philips Stellar Bright Base E27 20-Watt LED bulb (Pack of 4, Cool Day Light) would cost up to Tk4,679, a high mark-up to pay for controlled consumption of electricity over their lifetime.
Syska and Havells LED light bulbs of the same energy rating cost around the same as Philips.
However, there are cheaper alternatives such as domestically produced LED light bulbs of much higher wattages. Transtec, Superstar, Click and Walton are a few brands that produce LED light bulbs at a really competitive price point.
As for ceiling fans, the Energypac Energy Efficient Ceiling Fan 56" consumes 35% less power (at 65 watts) than usual ceiling fans do, for a fair price tag of Tk3,250.
Besides, ceiling fans are good alternatives to air-conditioning units, simply because they consume less power but serve a relatively similar purpose.
In-built motion sensors sense the presence of people coming in and out to determine when and how to turn lights and other equipment on and off. Besides adding a modern edge, this saves a lot of energy.
Some of these sensors also come with voice-command and respond to commands such as 'lights-on', 'lights-off ', 'dim lights', 'set fan speed', 'heater/cooler on/off', etc.
Moreover, in offices, users can adjust the time period within which all the lights and air conditions will be in service and after that, 70% of the lights and ACs will be turned off.
Faucets and bathware now use motion sensors to activate only when water is needed. However, bringing automation into the lavatory is still expensive. Higher quality bathware tend to be more expensive than the average.
Interestingly, every other form of appliance now comes with microchips. This allows for them to run under one network and use the internet to connect to each other. This is called the Internet of Things (IoT).
The owner can control from the mobile phone how they want the appliances to work. However, this approach requires all home appliances to be upgraded and that can easily push costs up.
But should one want this, it is very much there. For example, Samsung Smart Home is an app on the phone that does the monitoring and controlling of appliances right from the phone.
What smart home is complete without a smart lavatory?
Toto, a global manufacturer of ultra-modern bathware and solutions, has set up shop in Dhaka. They also import products if customers request them.
There are other brands like Kohler and American Standard who are big players in the market for high-end bathware.
Other ways to go green
Beyond the prospect of newer, green technology and architecture, one might consider alternative solutions as well.
Products made from biodegradable materials like jute and bamboo could replace all kinds of plastic. Buying tableware and other homeware made from these materials as well as fabric are good ways to go green. Local fashion brands such as Aarong, Boyon Bitan, Aranya have a number of options for eco-friendly tableware and homeware.
Also, small things such as changing what we keep inside the refrigerator can cut down carbon emission.
Did you know that livestock is the largest contributor to carbon emissions around the world? So, switching to greener diets and changing the contents of the refrigerator, alongside the refrigerator itself, can further the concept of efficiency.
Where to look?
If you are comfortable with online shopping, you could buy eco-friendly products from websites such as Daraz.
However, there are plenty of physical shops too where you will find products from renowned brands such as Hitachi, Sharp, Panasonic, Sony, LG and Samsung.
MK Electronics is one of the popular shops where you will find many branded products under the same roof.
Bangladeshi manufacturing brands like Walton, Jamuna Electronics, Vision, MyOne, Minister and Rangs also have eco-friendly products within a moderate price range.
Ezzy Automation has more than 11 years of experience in automating customers' homes and adding advanced security. Genex Infosys is yet another big name in the collective marketplace that provides homes with cutting edge automation.
Firefly Technology Ltd is also specialised in lighting and HVAC Solution, Building Management Solution (BMS) and they also provide complete security and solutions required for any smart building.