My amazing sustainable home in Essendon, Victoria, is for sale.
By Richard Keech
This has been my family home for 21 wonderful years, but it’s time to move on now that my children are grown, and we’ve built another wonderful home in regional Victoria.
This home, although not new, had a full energy-efficiency retrofit, which was finished in 2013. See here for the full story of the retrofit.
The home was scored under the Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard (VRES) system in 2021 as ten out of ten stars. In this rating system, the average home scores only three stars.
|Construction type||Weatherboard, except one cavity brick wall.|
|Land area [m2] / dimensions [m]||~530|
~10.6 x ~50
|Formal dining room||yes|
|Year of construction||~1913|
|Year of major renovation||1997|
|Vehicle access via||real laneway|
|Internal floor area [m2]||~200|
|Heritage overlay||yes – applies to most of the street|
|Number of off-street car parks||Two as currently operated. |
A third off-street park could be configured
with minor changes.
|Suburb||Essendon / Windy Hill|
|Proximity to metro train||90m (Glenbervie station, Craigeburn Line)|
|Proximity to tram||500m (Fletcher St, Route 59)|
|Council area||Moonee Valley|
|State School Zones||Strathmore Secondary College|
Essendon Primary School
St Teresa’s Primary School
St Monica’s Primary School
|Other nearby secondary schools||Penleigh Essendon Grammar School (PEGS)|
Ave Maria College
Essendon Keilor College
Buckley Park Secondary
St Bernard’s College
|Nearby walkable features||Windy Hill recreation reserve at top of street|
Windy Hill fitness centre / aquatic centre
Moonee Ponds Creek
North Essendon shopping precinct
Queens Park (Moonee Ponds)
Moonee Ponds Creek trail
|Freeway access||Easy access to Tullamarine Freeway |
(Moreland Rd exit for travel to the south; Bulla Rd exit for travel to the north west)
|Nearby shopping||DFO Essendon|
Moonee Ponds Central
|Proximity to airport||~15min by car|
Energy and comfort
I’ve done a full sustainability retrofit, as featured in The Energy Freedom Home book. The home is now much more comfortable, and super cheap to run.
Gas. We don’t have gas connected at all. We had it disconnected in 2011 (for information on why gas is actually a bad idea for homes see here).
Electricity. Our electricity account is typically in credit due to the low usage, solar PV, and generous premium feed-in tariff. The sum of the electricity bills for calendar year 2021 was a credit of $1521, and that includes our usage for charging an electric car. The premium feed-in tariff (we’re receiving 67c/kWh) stays with the house until the scheme concludes in December 2023.
Solar. The home has a total of 5.0kW of solar panels, configured in three separate arrays – one each on house (installed 2007), carport (2011) and shed (2011). The systems, combined, produce between 6,500 and 7,000 kWh per annum.
Comfort. The excellent draught proofing and insulation make the house much more comfortable than a typical house of this type and age. The number of hours when any heating/cooling is needed is greatly reduced.
Other energy-efficiency features include:
- Secondary glazing (i.e., retrofit double glazing, preserving period window features);
- Induction cooktop;
- Efficient Daiken reverse-cycle heating and cooling;
- Premium-quality evacuated-tube solar hot-water optimised for winter-time solar collection;
- LED skylights to reduce penetrations of the thermal envelope.
We have 16,000L of rainwater storage, split between:
- 10,000L under the front lawn;
- 3,000L next to the house; and
- 3,000L connected to the garage and carport at the back.
All roof surfaces drain to a tank.
Rainwater harvesting. Rainwater is plumbed to garden, bathroom, toilets and hot water. This arrangement reduces mains water use by about 2/3.
Wicking garden. We have a significant wicking garden bed in the back yard that is exceptionally water efficient, and great for growing vegetables.
Consumption. In 2006 (i.e., prior to upgrades), the annual mains water used was 119kL. In 2020, this was only 29kL. This is a 75% reduction, and represents a saving of about $250 per annum at the current rate of $2.76/kL.
The efficiencies give savings in electricity, gas and water which are estimated to be about $5,600 per annum in 2022, and reducing to $3,600 in 2024 when the premium feed-in tariff scheme concludes.
I’ve done modelling of the cumulative savings and estimated the avoided utility costs for this home, relative to an equivalent home without these improvements. Over the next ten years, the estimated avoided utility costs are $47,000, and over twenty years, the savings are $99,000.
(north is up the page)