Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hip Pocket Sustainability

We have spent the last eight years tweeking our 40 year old suburban house from an non-sustainable one, to a house that helps to save both the planet and our hip pocket through economic and environmental sustainability measures.

We have decided to move on however, as this house has too big a foot print for two people and so we have bought a much smaller cottage further up the mountain.

We wanted to tell potential buyers what we had done to the house and I thought I'd share these tips on Blue Mountain Bliss so others may be inspired to do the same. We are looking forward to doing it all again (and more) at out new (old) cottage.

Hip pocket sustainability
  • Solar Power generation system of 1Kilowatt per hour – enough to power the whole house and all modern appliances during the day and sometimes put power back into the grid, so you only pay for power for part of the night.
  • Solar Powered Hot Water System, with Gas booster – hot water on tap all the time, heated by the sun, and boosted by efficient natural gas for those rainy days or a relaxing spa bath after work.
  • 10,000 Litre Rainwater Tanks – Sparkling fresh rain water, filtered three times before the tank to prevent contaminants like leaves etc. Linked to the mains so you never run out of water, but only pay for it when the tanks run dry. Flushes the loos, washes your clothes, and wets the dishes all for free, and good enough to drink through the chemical-free-filtered kitchen tap. Powered by a small pump to ensure the rainwater gets upstairs with no hassles.
  • Full insulation in ceiling and underfloor – makes sure the heat you generate in winter stays inside to keep you warm in winter and in summer stops heat from entering from outside.
  • Whirly gig in roof – spins to extract hot air from your roof space if summer heat does start to creep in.
  • Silicone strengthened external bagging – the bagging itself tends to protect brickwork but the improvement of adding silicone to the mix ensures it repels heat from the outside and stops heat from leaching though the bricks from inside in winter. When we had this done a couple of years ago, the summer temperature inside the house dropped by about 3-4 degrees.
  • Natural Gas upstairs and down and gas cooking in the kitchen – Using natural gas has been reported to be more economical, more fuel efficient, and less costly to the environment than electricity, so if there’s been too little sun to make excess power with the solar panels, and you don’t have time to build up the slow combustion fire, you can heat the house cheaply with natural gas.
All these measures mean that living in our house costs considerably less than living in a conventional 3 bedroom house of this size. We have outlaid the cost of fitting these systems. The purchaser will get all the benefits of them.


  1. Bravo! We need more people doing the same thing. With, all our architecture projects, we encourage people to consider those sorts of options and some people honesty don't even think about them! Sounds like you have a healthy, happy house there!

  2. Thanks Sam, so much more we could do like double glazing, between wall insulation, et al, but we'll do it at the next place. Really looking forward to making another non-sustainable house, relatively sustainable.