Lee and Peter Brulisauer

Peter & Lee Brulisauer, Jindabyne

Living in a cold climate, energy usage and maintaining sustainability is vital to the CEO of Perisher Peter Brulisauer and his wife Lee.

1. Where is your place? East Jindabyne

2. How many people live in your house? 4 people, including 2 little ones who I expect use as much or more energy than we do.

3. Name 3 things you love about your place? The view from our home, Lake Jindabyne is spectacular; The design of the house, it’s simple, strong and great for a family; Natural light, our house takes advantage of the winter sun, warming our living areas and brightening the place.

4. What kind of actions are you doing already at home to be more sustainable? We have installed in the last year solar hot water, solar electricity panels on the roof and changed all of our lighting to energy efficient globes. We are conscious of our energy use and about 6 months ago installed an energy monitor in the kitchen, so we can see at a glance our energy consumption. The kids love our composting bin and small veggie patch. My hardest job is following after my family and turning lights off!

5. How important is it to be sustainable? Being sustainable is very important to us, to help the environment and save on energy bills. An important goal of mine is to teach our kids sensible energy consumption and to take care and notice the environment around them.

6. What did you think were key concerns for your home before the review? Living in a cold climate, with many levels in our home, our main concern was heating efficiency in winter. And to see where we could reduce our energy consumption even further without compromising too much comfortable living.

7. What was the outcome of the Sustaining Our Towns home review for you & will you be making any changes?
The report was very useful. In noting that we already have a number of energy efficient practices in place, it was able to then recommend a few modifications we could make in order for us to reduce our energy usage even further – and this was exactly what we were looking for. It was great to have an expert take the time, ask questions and really be interested in our home and practices, and have the expert knowledge to introduce some new techniques to us.
We will definitely make some changes recommended in the report, from the low budget ideas like draught stoppers and ensuring all our door seals are working properly, to the bigger items recommended like investigating exterior awnings to protect from the summer sun.

8. Any major surprises from the report? No major surprises from the report, but it was exactly what we needed – a comprehensive, easy to understand report that detailed ways we can reduce our energy consumption even further. I think the best outcome for us, was the reminder that the little things all count, for example, lowering thermostat temperatures, replacing tap washers and switching off appliances when in stand-by mode.

9. Would you recommend the SOT Home review to your friends? Why? Yes, I already have recommended it to my friends. There’s no catch, the SOT team is not trying to sell you anything. It’s just great advice from an expert in their field. The 5 page report is helpful and lists simply the ways we could improve our sustainability, from lowering our energy consumption, to best practice in the garden and remembering to use environmentally friendly products in the house.

10. Any further comments? Thanks for the opportunity to become involved, the process was useful and a good use of time.

Jasmin & Michael Jones, Yass

The Jones family had a huge winter bill but it wasn’t till they had Sustaining Our Towns’ review that they uncovered just what was going on with their electricity usage.

1. Where is your place? Yass

2. How many people live in your house? 5 (2 adults + 2 children + baby!)

3. Name 3 things you love about your place? We have a huge backyard with room for an orchard, vegie gardens and chooks;  the home’s northerly aspect letting in lots of light; and whilst the house has a sense of privacy it also has great views of the valley and river.

4. What kind of actions were you doing already at home and in the garden to be more sustainable? We have water tanks to water the extensive lawns and garden beds and we also drink rainwater. We’ve just installed self-closing screen doors to enable cross ventilation rather than electric cooling.

5. How important is it to be sustainable? It’s very important for us to be sustainable. The less reliance we can have on utility providers the better! Our exorbitant electricity bill motivated us to have the audit carried out. Also teaching our children to value freshly grown food and reducing energy consumption is important to us.

6. What did you think were key concerns for your home before the review? We didn’t know what combination of issues was resulting in our large electricity bills. The cost of lighting was also on our minds.

7. What was the main outcome of the Sustaining Our Towns home review for you & will you be making any changes? We will be trialling LED lighting and if the quality of the light is acceptable, will change over throughout the house. Also changing from electric hot water to solar.   We have dispensed with oil heaters which supplemented our ducted gas heating and will install a wood fireplace as an alternative. We will also install plastic insulation (shrink wrap) across the vertical skylights in the kitchen.  Our children have checked every room for vampires (appliances with standby lights that suck power!) and those we use infrequently we have switched off at the wall. Setting up a vegie patch, compost and chook-run was already on our radar.

8. Any major surprises from the report? The amount of potential heat loss through the vertical skylights, bathroom exhaust fans and gaps around down-lights was a surprise as was the suggested cheap remedy instead of double glazing for the sky-lights – shrink wrap!

9. Would you recommend the SOT Home review to your friends? Why? Yes, because it confirmed to us our own suspicions of inefficient power use and revealed some things we hadn’t considered. It also motivated us to make changes. We think everyone would find opportunities to be more efficient from this exercise.

10. Any further comments? A new house and a winter quarterly power bill just under $1000 shocked us to take action and seek out a review. We needed to know why our family home’s design and/or appliance usage was haemmoraging power and make changes.  Alison, who conducted the audit was lovely and very understanding of our particular circumstances, and as a result was able to tailor practical and achievable recommendations for our young family.

Gina McConkey, Berridale

Gina McConkey had ‘the best day I’ve had in a while’, when our Garden Advisor visited her home and gave her a free garden review, and showed Gina just how easy it is to build an edible garden.

1. Where is your place? Berridale

2. How many people live in your house? 4 (2 adults & 2 children)

3. Name 3 things you love about your place including your garden? 1. Locality –we live in town so it’s easy to get around – we’re close to schools, work and in between Jindabyne and Cooma. 2. Our home, although once was a transportable dwelling, is now solar with double glazed windows. 3. We love being in a small country town, and even though we’re so close to the snow it’s not influenced by tourism yet.

4. What kind of actions are you doing already at home and in the garden to be more sustainable? Originally we looked at the house which was a transportable dwelling and we insulated underneath the house with foil board, then we used polystyrene cladding with an acrylic render to insulate the outside of the house, as well as inserting double-glazed windows. I am a good recycler, everything’s close at the source to recycle things – right in the kitchen –which I think is important to be successful.

5. How important is it to be sustainable? It’s important to me to be sustainable, we now do it without thinking about it. It’s not just the bills which drive you to make the changes, but it is a significant factor. The waste of our society… even the water off your roof, it just seems ridiculous to let it run down your street instead of doing.

6. What did you think were key concerns for your garden before the review? When I first got the garden up it was a very annual type of garden, beginning of spring, requiring a lot of water. Whilst I do have a well there’s a lot of calcium and you can only use it in certain areas. I have a lot of lawn and really need to make a change. Water tanks are on order here.

7. What was the main outcome of the Sustaining Our Towns garden review for you & will you be making any changes? I needed some ideas on what I could do and Helen Litchfield (Garden Advisor) was great in doing that. I needed a vegie garden that worked well, I’ve had one but it’s never really worked that well. Helen talked about location and made a blank canvas. I want something that looked good too. A totally edible garden Helen came up with, and it was also aesthetically pleasing because it is in front of my front yard. Lots of raised garden beds, I had one fruit tree, whatever I put in it had to reasonably low because of a low power line. We looked at some planning for ornamental fruit trees – we’re looking at doing rosemary hedging, then totally planting out ecinacea – herbs with flowers. It was just one of the most fantastic mornings I’ve had in a long time. I took out a big gum and got some tips on how to install a drip-feed irrigation well, how to set it up properly to get it to the plants that need more water. The main outcome was getting me inspired to make the first step and then to have the plan in front of you to go with.

8. Any major surprises from the report? I had some existing garden beds near my driveway. The main surprise was that the soil I had was actually better than I thought it was. Ironically it was the bought garden soil which wasn’t as good as I thought it would be – very acidic. Helen did a PH test of the soil.

9. Would you recommend the SOT Garden review to your friends? Why? Absolutely! Whilst Helen was here my neighbour got one as well. It’s absolutely a word of mouth thing.

10. Any further comments? I’d just like to say if you’re hesitant about having someone you don’t know coming in to give you advice it’s free and it’s up to you if you take it on there. I think it’s fabulous, I don’t know why everyone isn’t taking it up.

Frankie J Holden & Michelle Pettigrove, Pambula Beach

Actors Frankie J Holden and Michelle Pettigrove have a waterless native garden and solar power, but when they had a Sustaining Our Towns Home Review discovered even little changes could make their home more energy efficient.

Actors Frankie J Holden & Michelle Pettigrove get sustainable.

1. Where is your place? Pambula Beach on the Sapphire Coast

2. How many people live in your house? 3 people – Frank, Michelle and Georgia who’s 8

3. Name 3 things you love about your place? Frank, ‘It’s beautifully positioned, it sits up the top of a little headland and it’s north facing so we get lots of winter sun. In the summer if it does get a bit warm, but the nor-east breeze comes up and takes the edge off it’. Michelle, ‘The view – even in the winter, every time you look out that lounge room window there’s something different to see. Right now – the blue ocean and the blue sky and the birds diving right in. Even on one of those beautiful grey choppy days where you just like to rug up and look out there – the view for me is the best thing.’ Frank adds ‘And it’s quiet and it’s low maintenance – a lot of wooden floors so it’s relatively easy to keep clean and difficult to have disasters (so if Georgia is putting toe nail polish on it’s not too much of a worry!)’

4.What kind of actions are you doing already at home to be more sustainable? Frank ‘We’re very keen recyclers, we generate hardly any rubbish. Most weeks there’ll only be 1 plastic shopping bag full of actual household rubbish. The rest will be recycling or compost. We’ve installed solar electricity but we haven’t gone to solar hot water yet, but as a result of this report we may very well.’ Michelle ‘And I walk around the house regularly turning off all the lights that Frank and Georgia turn on!’

5.What did you think were key concerns for your home before the review? Michelle ‘For me that’s easy, it was the garden, because I’m the gardener of the family and I spend a lot of time out in the garden. Here, we don’t turn the hose on, we never water the garden because when we came here we decided we’d have a garden which didn’t need to be watered.’

Frank ‘I didn’t have too many concerns as I was aware or thought we were passive in our use of energy. I suppose that was my main concern – getting a report and finding out we weren’t being good energy citizens, but it turns out we are!’

6.What was the outcome of the Sustaining Our Towns home review for you & will you be making any changes? Frank ‘What I thought was the little things which Roger walked around and pointed out, that can make a significant difference. The little things that you don’t think will make a big difference can make a difference. -Like cutting out come draughts on internal doors, having a look at your fridge/freezer set-up, those sorts of things, these lights for example. If you’re going to be serious about it, there are lots of little things that don’t cost a lot of money and that aren’t difficult to do, but can make a big difference, which I was pleased about.’

Michelle ‘I think the biggest thing about the report for me is that it’s not overwhelming. As Frank said the little things do make a big difference. And the little things aren’t expensive to do, it’s not like you think, ‘oh, how can I be more environmentally aware, and supportive. Oh, it’s way too hard. It’s just not, it’s actually easy.

7. Any major surprises from the report? Michelle ‘The major surprise is that I need a new fridge. Very pleased about that decision.’ Frank ‘The decisions that you make at the time, it’s really nice to have them reinforced. When Roger said something about the curtains that we chose were actually really good and you think, it’s nice to know that your decisions 6 years ago were actually reinforced, they’re backed up, they were the right decisions.’

8.Would you recommend the SOT Home review to your friends? Why? Frank ‘Absolutely – I think it’s a great process to go through, even if you are reasonably confident about your home and it’s energy footprint. It’s great to have the moves you have made be confirmed as positive steps. And if you are not confident about your house and it’s energy footprint then it’s great to get an expert in, to tell you the simplest ways to go about making it much more energy efficient. I would highly recommend it. It only takes an hour and a half. I found out a lot about my house that I didn’t know.’

9.Any further comments? Frank ‘Yes I fully encourage everyone to go through this process because it’s very, very important.’

Helena & Charlie Bettini, Narooma

Helena & Charlie Bettini at home in Narooma.

The Bettinis run a very successful tourism operation (Wagonga Princess Inlet Cruises) and at home always try to be sustainable. But when one of our Home & Garden Sustainability Advisors came and did a Review, Helena & Charlie were most surprised by the recommendations for their beer fridge.

  1. Where is your place? Narooma
  2. How many people live in your house? Only 2 now, our children have left home.
  3. Name 3 things you love about your place? 1. It’s location – it’s  overlooking Fosters Bay. 2. We love our house – it’s an old Queenslander. It’s a nice comfortable roomy house and you can kick around in it because its old. 3. Our house is right in town and we don’t feel like we have neighbours but conveniences are walking distance.
  4. What kind of actions are you doing already at home to be more sustainable? *Compost Holes – This is a tip from Margaret Searle. We put our compost in a hole in the garden, instead of a smelly bin. You make holes in the ground, put in the vegetable matter, comfrey and maybe manure and all sorts of things start growing out of the holes like pumpkins and potatoes. If you add water to the holes the compost decomposes faster.*1 Car – We have had 1 car since 1999 and a pushbike for a spare which we use to get into town. *We have a rainwater tank and we don’t use any chemicals for cleaning. Helena uses tea tree laundry powder, bicarb soda and vinegar for cleaning.
  5. What did you think were key concerns for your home before the review? We wanted someone to look objectively at the house – when you live in a house for a long time you find it hard to see the problems.  We had one fridge in particular which uses up a lot of power and we were also concerned about keeping the upper room in our house cool.
  6. What was the outcome of the Sustaining Our Towns home review for you & will you be making any changes? The outcome of the Sustaining Our Towns Home Review was excellent with well set out recommendations listed under “Priority Improvements” and “Additional Recommendations” so I’ll work through them in that order. On the priority list I have marked 4 to do now and 3 with questions marks to clarify and 4 left to do later. I’ll review the lists monthly and keep working on it.
  7. Any major surprises from the report? The Beer Fridge – the location needs to be changed because it’s on a westerly wall and uses up a lot of power. We thought we’d put it in the garage but that’s not a good position – the westerly wall gets the hot afternoon sun, therefore needs more power and makes the fridge work overtime. We were also surprised how much we can still do even though we try to be as sustainable as we can with the knowledge we have. It was great to have experts in the field to help us do the best we can to be environmentally responsible.
  8. Would you recommend the SOT Home review to your friends? Yes we already have!
  9. Any further comments? We really appreciate that the government  is supporting the Sustaining our Towns program, it’s such a win-win operation.

Tom Mavec, Queanbeyan

Tom Mavec & his wife Josephine Lolicato at their Queanbeyan home.

The Chair of SERRROC – Tom Mavec agreed to open the doors to his home for our first Home & Garden Sustainability Review. He says our report assists his household with their long-term goal to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

  1. Where is your place? Queanbeyan.
  2. How many people live in your house? 3 at present.
  3. Name 3 things you love about your place? 1. The garden my wife has grown over 25 years we have been in the house. 2.The fact that I can walk to the main street and are close to everything. 3. I love that we are in walking distance to the river and bush. In summary: Urban walk, country walk & garden paradise!
  4. What kind of actions are you doing already at home to be more sustainable? One of first things we did was insulate our home – we have implemented more efficient heating twice since we’ve been here – it’s quite cold in winter & hot in summer. We have also changed over to compact fluorescent globes & have downsized cars.
  5. What did you think were key concerns for your home before the review? We have a longterm household goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and this report goes a long way in assisting us in doing that.
  6. What was the outcome of the SOT home review for you & will you be making any changes? We’re looking to install under-floor installation; lag (insulate) our hot water pipes; double-glaze selected areas of the southern part of the house and reduce the requirement of water in the garden instead of installing a rainwater tank. – Currently we are researching planting more drought-resistant plants and have eliminated the lawn.
  7. Any major surprises from the report? I was surprised that our gas consumption was high for the local area – gas is used in our home for mainly heating.
  8. Would you recommend the SOT Home review to your friends? Why? I would recommend it to my friends & acquaintances because it’s a no-nonsense, practical look at things that we can do in existing homes. Because the report provides priorities, it helps me spend the dollars I need to spend in a much more efficient way.
  9. Any further comments? I also want to thank Sustaining Our Towns for having this program. I found the advisor to be very helpful and understanding on how people live their ordinary lives. The report is not an airy-fairy idealistic document, it is a practical document which provides steps that can be taken over a period of time to reduce our dependence on outside sources of energy and water.

RECENT NEWS

  • One Year of Successful Sustainable Housing Consultations, One to Go!

    September 23rd, 2015

    The Googong Sustainable Building Advisory Service has been up and running for 1 year now, with over a year to go and consultations still available at no cost to you!

    Read More
  • New Googong home owners benefit from Free Sustainable Building Advisory Service

    November 24th, 2014

    The Googong Sustainable Housing Project providing people building in Googong FREE consultations and workshops is . . .

    Read More
  • Free consultations still available

    October 29th, 2014

    The Googong Sustainable Housing project has now been up and running for just over 6 weeks and is well under way.

    Read More