Sunday, September 15, 2019

Such a good day! Sustainable House Open Day 2019

We are recovering with a quiet day today, after welcoming 72 people through our place yesterday for Sustainable House Open Day.

There were 45 homes open here in WA, some purpose built and new with fabulous sustainable features. Many of them are 'south of the river'- a smaller number open here in the northern suburbs, which is one of the reasons we wanted to open our home, along with showing people what can be done with the kind of homes most of us live  in. 

We enjoyed sharing our home, and getting such positive feedback from people. Many came to look at the garden: just what can grow in a suburban backyard, how do you do it in our sandy Perth soils, what can I do to make my home more sustainable? There was talk of whether is it worth while to replace single pane windows with double glazing, and how big a solar array to buy. We discussed solar hot water, and if the 'tank runs out". 

A volunteer from the Electric Vehicle Association brought his car and parked it in our driveway -charging up from our domestic supply. It was a great feature, and he was a lovely guy- we ended up swapping marmalade and he gave us a dragon fruit plant! 

We prepared a pamphlet for people to take with them, called "Retrofitting a 1973 Suburban House"

1 Heating & Cooling

What we have done: 

A. Basic level of insulation in roof.

B. Shade-cloth Blinds on external side of  West-facing windows.

C. Pergolas and deciduous vines for shade on North and East (pictured above with winter sun coming in -in summer the vines cover the pergola and we get great shade ...and fruit!)

D. Water Tank also provides shade on west (as well as water storage)

E. Heat-block blinds and heavy fabric curtains for interior windows.

F. Ceiling fans in every room.

G. Outside kitchen to keep cooking heat from house.

H. Shaded screens on outdoor kitchen make a cooler alternative living space

I. Shade from trees.

Other possibilities being considered:

1. Pelmets over the curtain rails

2. Extra layer of insulation on top of ceiling

3. Insulated timber-frame cladding on front western wall (or should we paint in a light colour?)

4. Lift paving from front nature strip and replace with garden/vegetation

5. Seal the gaps – windows, doors, vents, exhaust-fan venting

6. DIY Double Glazing using Aluminium fly wire frame to seal door and toilet window.

2 Reduced Water Consumption

What we have done: 
A. No lawn.

B. Sub-surface drip-irrigation for garden

C. Water Tank – carries some winter rain into Summer.

D. Water-saving front-loader washing machine

E. Water-saving devices in bathroom renovations

a. Low capacity cisterns for toilets

b. Low flow shower heads

c. No bath

Other possibilities being considered:
1. Would eventually like to harvest grey water for loos and some gardening-council permissions required and are a barrier

2. Additional water storage tanks for the front garden

3 Renewable Energy & Reduced Consumption

What we have done: 

A. One car and we actively try to reduce kilometres in that car – using public transport as well.

B. 2.5kw Solar PVC system – which exports more energy than we use over many months. We bought this 7 years ago, so it has paid for itself now. Many people are putting in much bigger systems now, but our energy use is pretty low and we don't need more at the moment.

C. Solar hot water system  (Electric Boost on timer to use PVC power if available during winter)

D. Bigger windows in Kitchen and Bathrooms.

E. Solar Tubes – skylights – in lounge room. One visitor commented "you don't have any lights on here...our lights are always on!" 

F. LED globes into all old light fittings

G. Kitchen renovation included LED lighting, induction cooktop (replaced gas), energy efficient appliances

H. Growing food – preserving, freezing and drying to extend harvest. Eat locally!

Other possibilities being considered:

1. We probably need to eventually replace gas heating with R/C Air Conditioning -not in a hurry to do this.

2. Electricity storage batteries for Solar Power

3. Fully Electric car – or maybe a hybrid as a transition to fully electric.

4 Reducing Waste

What we have done: 

A. Composting Bins – four around the garden

B. Worm Farm and Worm Towers

C. Separating Waste Streams (batteries, bottle tops, crunchable plastics)

D. Refusing plastics where possible.

E. Re-purposed furniture – coffee table in lounge from Tip Shop for $25 plus a lot of work

F. Buying in bulk – refillable dispensers  for washing up liquid, conditioner, oil for cooking

G. Homemade Washing Powder – 2pts Lux Flakes + 1pt each Borax and Lectric Soda – 2 tbs/load for washing (front or top loader)

Urban Orchard

Our house is on a 600m2 block. The gardens around it are not large.

Here’s a bit of a check list of what we currently have in place:

Front garden:

quince, grapes, fennel,  onions

olive, mulberry, parsley nasturtiums

pomegranate, blueberries, rosemary avocado

lemon, goji berries, tomatoes basil

Side garden:

nectarine, kumquat, fennel, silverbeet,

mint, rhubarb, rocket, elderflower,

celery, tomatoes, onions, parsley,

curry leaf, spring onions, grapes, nasturtiums

Back garden:

grapefruit, tangelo, fig, lemon,

mandarin, lime, bay, kaffir lime,

peas, beans, dill, mint,

mizuna, rosemary, tomatoes, sage,

silverbeet, garlic, Vietnamese mint, thyme,

lemon grass, sorrel, warrigal greens, parsley,

borage, sweet potato, nasturtiums, broccoli,

We have not weighed our crops, but we use a lot in our daily diet – greens and herbs. We preserve the harvest in jams, chutneys, dried produce, and the freezer. We buy in produce at their seasonal peak when it is cheapest to make bottles of preserved fruit as well as jams. We share our harvest with friends, neighbours and the Buy Nothing Greenwood Facebook page.

It was a good day...and the place is looking pretty amazing just now! We are having a 'recovery day" today.


sustainablemum said...

What an amazing post. I love the idea of opening up your home to show people what it is possible to do to retrofit an existing house to make it more sustainable. Like you we have done so much to our house to reduce our bills to make running the house as cheap as possible and of course to use less energy too. We are in the Northern hemisphere and have very different weather to you but still needed to do lots of work to reduce our bills just very different work!

I am so glad to hear that you day was a success.

Nil @ The Little House by the Lake said...

This is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing, earthmotherwithin.

Do you collect rain water from gutters? I'd love to have a rain barrel, but first I have to install gutters. :)
Sometimes when it rains I put buckets outside to collect water, but that's not very practical.

earthmotherwithin said...

Nil, we have to have gutters -it is part of the building code here! Yes we collect water from out gutters. I hope we can put more water storage tanks in the future in our garden. Perth is a drying climate and water is precious.

TheAwakenedSoul said...

That's fantastic! I'm amazed at how much food you grow. If we were allowed to use more water, I would do the same...

Treeservices said...
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