Sept 9, 2016: Happy Sustainable House Day!

By now you should all know that Sunday, Sept 11 is Sustainable House Day (SHD). But just in case you’ve been naughty and  haven’t been reading our Newsletters, SHD is a FREE, annual, national event in which sustainable homes across Australia open their doors to interested visitors. To find out if there are open houses in your area simply go to sustainablehouseday.com and click on “Find Houses”. If there are homes you want to visit you will need to register as a visitor (click on “Get Involved” and the rest is self explanatory) then you will be able to see the actual addresses of the homes under the “Find Houses” tab. I hope to see as many of you as possible of Sunday and there are two other excellent projects in our local area so why not make a day of it?

Latest on The End of the FITs, Meter Changeovers, Battery and Energy Management Systems

As discussed in last week’s Newsletter, the subsidies for home solar power systems are starting to roll back beginning at the end of this year when the high Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) will finish and the installation rebate will begin a five year phase-out. As you know, I have been investigating the best options for home-owners who are coming off the high FITs and needing to change over from Gross Metering to Net Metering. Today I’m happy to announce that, for anyone living in the South-east region of NSW, there is a huge community bulk buy program getting underway called SunCrowd and we are getting involved. There will be two information sessions in our local area (the Southern Highlands) on the evenings of October 26th and November 15th so mark your calendars. If you live elsewhere in the SE you can register your interest on the SunCrowd website and you will be informed of upcoming events in your area.

While you’re on the SunCrowd website you can also request a free guide to solar and storage called ‘How to Unlock Your Clean Energy Future’ (simply scroll down on the home page and click on the ‘Get It Now’ button). I have just requested it myself but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. This is all very new, SunCrowd has run a trial bulk-buy program in Newcastle recently which saw 187 customers sign up for solar and/or battery systems and immediately made SunCrowd the largest seller of home energy storage systems in Australia. My friend Miles and I had a phone conversation with the SunCrowd team yesterday and have agreed to help organise the event in our area. Over the next few weeks I will be providing more information about how you can get involved. In the meantime I would encourage any readers in SE NSW who are considering their options regarding solar, batteries, meter changeovers and energy monitoring/management to not rush into any decisions before attending one of SunCrowd‘s FREE events. The purpose of these gatherings will be to thoroughly inform the attendees of their options to enable people to make a clear decision about what to do.

What I can tell you is that my research is pointing to a couple of fairly clear winners in the search for the best options for home owners. I’m not quite ready to share the results yet (still some final research to do) but I will be revealing all soon. Stay tuned…

We Are SO Lucky To Live In Australia

I’ll finish this week with some photos from our trip to Brisbane last week. I’ll let the images and captions tell the story, suffice to say, it was a nice break and a wonderful reminder of how incredibly lucky to live in this beautiful, uncrowded and peaceful country.

Where else in the world can you drive 20km off a major highway and find a deserted campsite with a view like this?

Where else in the world can you drive 20km off a major highway and find a deserted campsite with a view like this?

Our PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) performed exceptionally well as our transportation and accommodation for the trip. Fully loaded and with three surfboards on the roof it still managed 7.76 L/100km without any charging whatsoever.

Our PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) performed exceptionally well as both transportation and accommodation for the trip. Fully loaded and with three surfboards on the roof it still managed 7.76 L/100km without any charging whatsoever.

Cintia and friend enjoying the morning. The kangaroos in this national park near Broome's Head are completely unaffected by human presence so we were able to observe their natural behaviour at very close quarters.

Cintia and friend enjoying the morning. The kangaroos in this national park near Broome’s Head are completely unaffected by human presence so we were able to observe their natural behaviour at very close quarters.

I was singularly unimpressed by 'The Farm' at Byron Bay. After hearing all the hype about the 500,000 visitors it had in its first year I was keen to see what the fuss was all about. What I saw was an overpriced hangout for the rich and gullible.

I was singularly unimpressed by ‘The Farm’ at Byron Bay. After hearing all the hype about the 500,000 visitors it had in its first year I was keen to see what the fuss was all about. What I saw was an overpriced hangout for the rich and gullible. I was completely put off when the first thing I saw (after the carpark packed with BMW SUVs) was a totally uninsulated building with a reverse cycle air-conditioning system. That told me pretty much everything I needed to know about ‘The Farm’.

We also visited a number of Intentional Communities and EcoVillages like this one near Currumbin, a new one starting up at Narara near Gosford, and an old one near Coff's Harbour. I had been to the Currumbin one many years ago when it was just starting so I was keen to see how it had developed. It was very pleasant... much nicer than the many new, McMansion subdivisions we passed... but it had the air of catering fairly exclusively to the wealthy and privileged. We weren't able to find any residents to ask what it's like to live there so we might have got the wrong impression.

We also visited a number of Intentional Communities and EcoVillages like this one near Currumbin as well as a new one starting up at Narara near Gosford and an old one near Coff’s Harbour. I had been to the Currumbin one many years ago when it was just starting so I was keen to see how it had developed. It was very pleasant… much nicer than the many new, McMansion subdivisions we passed… but it had the air of catering fairly exclusively to the wealthy and privileged. We weren’t able to find any residents to ask what it’s like to live there so we might have got the wrong impression.

One of the many highlights of the trip was a very grief visit to Brisbane. With only a few hours to spend there we were advised to take a free ferry trip on the City Hopper. This proved to be a wonderful way to get a feel for the city during an hour and a half round trip.

One of the many highlights of the trip was a very brief visit to Brisbane. With only a few hours to spend there we were advised to take a free ferry trip on the City Hopper. This proved to be a wonderful way to get a feel for the city during an hour and a half round trip.

The City of Brisbane has done a fabulous job of redeveloping the riverfrontage as a delightful place for people. Walk/Cycleways follow the river bank for many kilometers on both sides of the river and appear to used constantly.

The City of Brisbane has done a fabulous job of redeveloping the river frontage as a delightful place for people. Walk/Cycleways follow the river bank for many kilometers on both sides of the river and appear to be well-loved and used constantly.

Due to murky water and sharks, the river itself is not a good place to swim so they have built a very nice man-made beach on the river's edge. Apparently it gets PACKED on a nice day.

Due to murky water and sharks, the river itself is not a good place to swim so they have built a very nice man-made beach on the river’s edge. Apparently it gets PACKED on a sunny day.

Not far from the beach is this gorgeous Nepalese Pagoda that was built for the Brisbane Expo in 1988. Every inch of it is beautifully hand-carved and it has been lovingly preserved. It makes for a peaceful retreat from the city activity.

Not far from the beach is this gorgeous Nepalese Pagoda that was built for the Brisbane Expo in 1988. Every inch of it is beautifully hand-carved and it has been lovingly preserved. It makes for a peaceful retreat from the city activity.

And next to that is a charming rainforest walk.

And next to that is a charming rainforest walk.

A bit further along the South Bank is an interactive culinary herb garden cared for by a group calling itself 'Epicurious'.

A bit further along the South Bank is an interactive culinary herb garden cared for by a group calling itself ‘Epicurious’.

Which whet our appetites for this fabulous street food market which happens every Wednesday right in the heart of Brisbane.

Which whet our appetites for this fabulous street food market that happens every Wednesday right in the heart of Brisbane. All of which combined to make our few hours in Brisbane both interesting and exciting.

All told it was an excellent trip and we can highly recommend a visit to Brisbane and Broome’s Head. But, as most of you probably know, the whole coast between Melbourne and Brisbane is incredibly beautiful and remarkably unspoilt, especially if you can manage a visit outside of the school holidays. We really are the lucky country!

Back to more serious things next week. Thanks for your interest. Andy

 

 

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