Living sustainably can seem like an impossible undertaking, but simple changes can often make a huge difference.
Bendigo’s Sustainable House Day aims to make things simple for householders.
Eleven unique sustainable houses will open their doors including passive, tiny, retrofitted, off the grid and mud brick.
Gareth Williams’ self-built kit home will be among those open to view on the day.
Mr Williams has been living in the California Gully house three years now.
The house is made of modular compressed straw panels, giving the home excellent thermal insulation.
Facing north, it boasts a 1.5 kilowatt solar system and a 2000 litre water tank. Mr Williams went for two years without installing any heating, and he barely uses it now.
Its size also makes it sustainable. The house has just a bedroom, ensuite, living room and kitchen, with a laundry in a cupboard. A deck made from recycled plastic sits at the front.
Small size means less heating and less embedded environmental costs in the build. And, Mr Williams said, he can’t fill a small home with junk.
I think the environmental crisis is the biggest problem of our time, and so I just want to live my life in a way where I’m contributing to that as little as I can.Gareth Williams
Even coordinator Liz Martin hopes people will be able to learn from those who have made changes, both small and big, to help them live sustainably.
“We want people to be more sustainable, and people don’t know how to do it,” Ms Martin said.
“People can come and have a look through their houses, and the householders talk to them about what they’ve done.”
It’s not just the environment which can benefit, often owners’ hip pockets will also say thank you.
A lot of the householders showing off their homes don’t have power bills to pay, Ms Martin said.
And it’s often the cheaper fixes that can save money. Adding insulation to the walls and ceiling of a house, or even just eliminating drafts, can dramatically improve the sustainability of a house.
Mr Williams didn’t think he could afford a house, until he found a block he could afford in California Gully.
He had planned to put a relocatable cabin on the site, before his Mum stumbled across a factory in Golden Square which produced ecological modular housing.
This allowed Mr Williams to build his home in just over a month, as well as a few months of site prep on the weekends.
The total cost of the build was about $70,000.
Partly Mr Williams chose a small, modular home because he could afford it, and partly because of his interest in the environment and sustainability.
“I think the environmental crisis is the biggest problem of our time, and so I just want to live my life in a way where I’m contributing to that as little as I can,” Mr Williams said.
Sustainable House Day will take place on Sunday October 28, for more information visit bsg.org.au.
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