Sustainable House Tour May 10th Northern Tasmania

A chance to talk to the owners of two very different sustainable homes, ask them the burning questions you might have about aspects of sustainability in a home and enjoy some great morning or afternoon tea.


Sustainable House Tours – The inside story.

Saturday May 10th

10.30-12.30 & 2.00-4.00

From the folks that brought Sustainable House Day to Northern Tasmania.


Come along and pick the brains of sustainable home owners about the nitty gritty of their experiences creating and living in a sustainable home.


  • Cost:  By donation. You pay what you think the session was worth.
  • Numbers:  Limited. This ensures that in depth information can be discussed
  • Session Length: 90 minute session at each home. Each home open in the morning and afternoon. You pick the session that suits you.
  • Afternoon/morning tea:  Yum. Will be available
  • Bookings:  Essential. Contact Lisa on 0427 283 403 or email annelisa(at) Details of locations provided when booking.
  • House locations:  In the Meander Valley


Two very different homes.

House 1:        Transformation of a 1940,s weatherboard house that optimises energy efficiency and minimises running costs.

85 Meander Valley rd westbury 2


  • Sharing (by blog) extensive research on all materials used for sustainability and availability.
  • Owner built studio extension (mega anchors, double glazing, sustainable flooring, hardwood framing, wool insulation, plastic/wood composite deck)
  • Grid connect solar. Energy efficient lighting
  • Heat pump hot water unit, water saving devices
  • Up-cycled and recycled materials
  • Natural paints and floor finishes
  • Retro fitted insulation (roof and walls) and draught proofing


House 2:        Maximum sustainability with minimum environmental footprint. Purpose designed passive solar house.


  • Passive solar design
  • Recycled materials
  • Stand alone solar power
  • Composting toilet
  • Permaculture garden with swales
  • Onsite greywater treatment system
  • water reticulation system for house and garden using dams, tanks and solar pumps
  • Owner built

Post xmas 2012 update

Have realised that I have not added anything to this blog since the end of August!!

Pretty slack!!

It is not that things have not been happening it is just pure laziness on my part, oh and earning a living and walking the dog, and doing community stuff, and so it goes on.

Mostly since August I was concentrating on finishing things off so we could get our final inspection from Council which was granted 06/12/12 A milestone. Does it mean that the house is finished, well NO. Just the parts that were submitted to Council three and a half years ago. Basically the extension, kitchen, laundry and deck.

When troy the building inspector came around he cast his eye around, asked for two things to be done and that was it. Six weeks later I reminded council that they were issuing the Final Inspection certificate, and they got around to it.

So since August I built the ramp off the deck (see post on that under Deck). Had another 2Kw of solar added as a seperate system. We now have a 1kw system and a 2 kw system. Both running seperate inverters etc.

both inverters, 2kw is underneath

both inverters, 2kw is underneath

1 kw solar and 2 kw solar underneath

1 kw solar and 2 kw solar underneath

The other major thing we have done is to tidy up the area around the steps. As you can see above we have filled with some more decking, built a water tank stand for a 1000 litre zinc tank that we have had for a couple of years doing nothing and created a screen to hang a “Love Life!” sculpture made by friends Zane and Sally.

Love Life !

Love Life !

Other little things include running a grey water divert right under the extension to a large tank with a submersible pump. when it fills the pump comes on and waters our native trees at the end of the garden. Constant garden attention in spring time keeps Mandy busy between working, oh and we replaced the fence. The original 50 meters of paling fence was held together with barbed wire and spit. It only took a day and a half to put the new one up but days of denailing, stacking, sorting and we have only cut up a fraction. Waiting for winter so we can burn some of it in our wood heater.

Monitors and measuring devices part 2

In this update: New energy monitor and great software to measure electricty consumption.

Last time I updated this blog I spoke about HEAT kits, eco switches and LED Mitts. Well the latest new is that the LED Mitts are suitable for a 5 watt led replacement for a halogen globe but not suitable for our 11watt replacements for 50 watt halogen. The reason for this is that although LED’s run cool their electronics give out a bit of heat. Unlike Halogens which actually heat up the globe and are just a heating element in a gas LED’s themselves do not emit heat but the electronics do. If this heat is allowed to build up around the LED unit which is what could happen with the LED Mitt it could drastically shorten the life of the LED’s.

I discovered this after talking to Living Energy Design  who designed and supplied my led Lighting and speaking with the folks at LED Mitts. It is always worth pursuing things a little further if you are not sure. I also checked up on forums such as the Alternative Technology Association to see if I was on the right track. As new technologies become available I will chase them up as I do not like “holes” in my insulation to let cold air down

 Now for some cool pieces of kit. Without a fuel gauge you don’t know when you will run out of fuel. You can guess but that is not too accurate. Well it is the same with energy. If you are trying to save energy in a home it is really difficult if the only monitoring you have is an electricity bill once every three months. It might give a rough idea but really rough. I had looked at several energy monitoring devices but either they were fairly inaccurate or very expensive or hard to retro fit. Then as theswe things do along came a great thing, well two really. I was speaking to a couple of people who are part of KEENER, a sustainability group local to Sheffield, Tasmania. They were organising a group purchase of energy monitors sold by Smart Now They are called EnviR and they wirelessly transmitt data every six seconds from the power box to a display monitor. This tells you what you are currently using. A CT clamp is put around the main power wire in the fuse box. this needs to be done by a licensed electrician.  I also got a second CT clamp and put it around the hot water feed.

Wireless transmitter in fuse box

EnviR set up and working

The device comes with a USB cable to connect to a PC. The really clever part of this whole thing is not the EnviR which while a clever piece of equipment only tells you how it is in real time and shows the sum power being used. (Sum of mains power and hot water) No the really clever part is the software which is supplied by a local Tasmanian software company Go Lime Solutions . This software, called Energy Tracker, takes all the data that is transmitted and shows it on a power meter on your PC as well as storing it all in a database which you can access via a reports page. All the equipment can be purchased from Go Lime Solutions. They have been excellent with after sales service and sorting out a few glitches in my computer system.

The power meter can be a small colour coded meter that is green if you are using power within the parameters that you specify, turning orange as you near capacity and then red when it goes over; and expanded to a full page with a graph of use that goes back quite a few days. This can tell you alot. You will see when a kettle or another large appliance is switched on or how much power is being used with evrything just on standby.

Energy Tracker power meter small on PC

Energy tracker graph

The clever bit is that it seperates out all the information that is fed in to the EnviR and puts it into seperate reports. Now the Envi R can pair up with ten wireless transmitters which can run three CT clamps each which is up to 30 channels. This means that you could monitor multiple power and light feeds if you wished and track down all that power that might be being used and you just don’t know.

Ther are a variety of reports including hourly, half hourly, cost comparisons and lots more. Go Lime are soon releasing even more in depth reporting. All the data can be copied into Excel or graphs copied to paste into documents. The system is around $200 for a household size which is really cheap. You should be able to save that very quickly on your power bill by being able to measure your usage.

Hot Water dashboard
Hot Water hourly graph

In our case with the hotwater feed hooked up I have been monitoring when our Siddons heatpump hot water service comes on to reheat. Turns out it likes to come on at night when it is coolest outside. Not the most efficient time for it to come on as it has to work harder with cooler air. We shower in the morning, the HWS heats up water just after showering and then it takes approx 15 hours for it to cool down enough for it to want to heat more water. This is at ambient temps of approx 18C during the day and maybe 8C at night. We may change our water use habits or put a timer on the HWS so it does not come on at night.Hot Water hourly graphI have just built an insulated box around the HWS and will be able to monitor the difference in[power use.

Our other power use is very low as we TURN STUFF OFF AT THE SWITCH NOT THE STAND BY!!

I will monitor our HWS and update it in a few weeks.