Some background information
- 2 adult occupants.
- Two bedroom unit, 65m2 (interior), part of 3 ground level units. Estimated build date, late 1980s. Relatively draught free with single glaze windows.
- Located in Melbourne (classified as a temperate oceanic climate).
- Occupants spent 5 weeks away from home in 2019 on holiday.
- One occupant worked one day a week from home and the house was occupied for 50% of all waking hours.
Costs and usage for 2019
- Electricity use was 2kWh a day on average
- 3kWh produced on average by backup solar system, 1.7kWh supplied by 100% GreenPower mains electricity.
- No gas usage.
- Energy cost for the year was $600.
- Internet and mobile costs for the year were $800
- Power usage when home was vacant was 0.15kWh per day to power our chest fridge, an electric garage door and wired in smoke detectors.
- 90% of lighting provided by solar powered lights.
- Solar hot water provided by portable solar hot water system with a sealed shower cubicle.
- Two induction hotplates and an occasionally used electric oven.
- Reverse cycle heater, required for approximately 200 hours in winter for heating (approximately one third of all our electricity use)
- No air conditioning used, only fan based cooling, portable evaporative cooler and exterior blinds. Total estimated cooling energy, under 2kWh or less than 1% of total energy use.
- Chest freezer converted to run as a fridge.
- Top loader washing machine with “eco” rinse mode, 70 litres per wash with a full load.
- Small back up power solar system with 120Watt solar panel and a decommissioned 1.2kWh ex-generator starter battery for storage.
- Two 200Wh batteries allow the solar power to be “carried” inside and they are used to power a laptop, solar lighting, mobile phones, an internet router, a stereo and a portable evaporative cooler.
- Water usage was 100 litres a day on average/50 litres per person including the garden.
- Water bill was $130 for the year.
- 50kg of fruit, vegetables and herbs were harvested from our home garden.
- 10kg of fruit, vegetables and herbs were acquired through bartering or foraged from elsewhere.
- Less than a few kg of food was wasted.
- Approximately 500kg of compost was produced.
- We estimate that the garden produced $1000 worth of produce.
Local and regional transport
- One quarter of all travel was on foot.
- One quarter of all travel was on public transport.
- Almost 40% of transport was by bicycle.
- 10% of transport was by car.
- Transport costs were $4000 for the year.
How was life using 5% of the energy of an average Australian home, 17% of the average water consumption, living car free and growing some food?
- Our house was comfortable all year round. We were warm in winter, cool in summer and had all the lighting and conveniences we needed.
- Lower ambient lighting combined with task lighting enabled us to have better sleeping patterns.
- Our back up solar system provided cooling during a hot weather blackout.
- Our garden only required an hour a week of work on average.
- Even though all of the above around the house required some extra effort, it only amounted to around 15 minutes a day (including the garden) which was well worth it for what we saved in home running costs.
- The vast majority of travel was convenient enough providing exercise and time for reading on public transport. The extra time spent travelling was easily offset by the savings.