Upper Lachlan

gulp School Education Program

Simple KwH savings

5 July 2011

Power meters were introduced into the classroom to show students how power and money are wasted, simply by leaving electrical appliances on standby. In the Gunning Public School computer room – a dedicated ICT room with Smartboard and computers – students were able to reach under the computer tables, plug in the power meter and see very clearly that 16 computers left on standby overnight, every night of the school term, quickly adds up. They calculated $188 in savings for the school annually if the computers are switched off at the powerpoint after they’ve been used.

Please click on this link to see a 3 minute YouTube video of gulp’s school education program. We hope to inspire other communities to start small.

Spending energy

28 June 2011

The Hazelwood Power station in Victoria uses 18 million tonnes of coal every year to generate 1600 megawatts of electricity.

1kg of coal makes one lightbulb glow for 4 hours.

Students were asked is there a simpler, cheaper and more sustainable way of powering our planet?

Look out the window. It costs nothing to stand in the sun and get warm and it’s an infinite power source. Should we be spending money now to capture its energy to save money for future generations?

At Gunning Public School enough power is used every school term, approximately 6,500 kilowatt hours, to send the same amount of CO2 into the air as would be contained in 137,000 balloons.

Every time we turn on a light in the classroom, up go more balloons full of CO2 into the air. Every time we switch on the ignition in our car and burn fuel, it’s like sending more balloons full of CO2 up into the air and clogging the planet.

Balloons can demonstrate the volume of CO2 we send into the air when we burn fossil fuels.

Solar Home Excursion

21 June 2011

Owned and designed by architect Karina Smith and her husband Tim Matthews the Dalton home is an excellent illustration of how you can use simple and effective ways to capture the heat and light of the sun to replace or supplement your home energy supply.

“In the middle of winter it can get to 28 degrees in the living room with no heating other than the sun shining through the glass. We have to throw open the doors and windows to cool down!” said Karina.

“The roof is slanted to allow more sun to shine through from the north in winter and it’s overhung at the west to protect our home from the hot western sun on summer afternoons.”

Gulp environmental consultant Daniel Moor was able to show students how the sun’s position in the sky changes throughout the year and when designing a solar passive home it’s important to take this into account.

Karina Smith, Daniel Moor and students of Gunning Public School

Demonstrating how to capture the sun's energy when it is constantly changing position in the sky

The Matthews’ home is completely off the grid and powered by solar panels generating 1.2 kilowatts of electricity.

Their organic waste is decomposed by worms and they minimise the number of power consuming appliances in their home.

“We only have 10 lights in our house and as soon as we leave a room, we turn the lights off. We use gas to cook with and our only appliances with an electricity-heated element are our iron, although it’s a travel iron, and a toaster.

“I often start a casserole quickly in the morning before work, wrap it in a towel, pop it in the esky and it’s cooked and still steaming hot when I return at the end of the day. No slow cooker needed,” said Karina.

Reduce your reliance on big energy consuming appliances

The only appliances in this home which use an electrical element are an iron and a toaster

Solar Passive and Active House – Karina’s notes

By using an unlimited available resource (the sun) we reduce our reliance on limited resources (coal, oil etc).

How to do this:

Orientation: placing the house to capture, or protect itself from, heat, depending on the time of year. The angle of the sun changes throughout the year. In winter it comes in at approx 30 degrees at midday (low) so the sun enters the house, but in summer it is closer to 80 degrees, so the house is protected by the eaves and shading.

Materials: Insulative (anything that holds air, includes the polystyrene in the walls, and the double glazing) – stops the heat from leaving the house, or entering (just like an esky).

Design Elements: placement of windows allows movement of air, wide eaves protect from high summer sun

Activity: reduce the use – need for appliances, turn lights off, fill the fridge with water, look for low energy consuming appliances (our fridge and freezer), find alternatives (esky slow cooker).

Solar Power Source: photovoltaic panels and batteries.

Other interesting things about the house:

At the end of construction, we took only 2 garbage bags to the tip (mostly builders’ lunch wrappers!)

Our deck is made from timber saved from old Sydney houses due for demolition.

The roof can capture about 200 litres of water for the tanks when it is NOT raining (think cold mornings).

Worms eat our newspapers, food scraps and most importantly, our poo.

This Dalton home is completely off the State's power grid

Thank you Karina, Tim and little Henry for the tour of your modern, energy efficient home.


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