When moving into our retirement unit four years ago we seriously considered gas for heating and as a hot water back-up. Gas was relatively cheap and being touted as an ‘environmentally friendly’ bridging fuel. A solar hot water heater was planned with a gas booster. It soon became apparent that a reverse cycle air conditioner was a far more efficient heater than gas with the additional benefit of summer cooling. It then became obvious that if we were to get the gas connected that we would need to use it for more than just as a booster for the solar hot water. There was also monthly usage charges to be considered whether we used any gas or not. The final sealer was the quotes we received for the installation of a solar hot water system (with gas booster) which seemed high and when taken in conjunction with additional plumbing costs we decided to remain an all-electric house.
Once the decision was made things seemed to fall neatly into place. Even before our solar PV panels were installed our conventional electric wall heater – which was by far and away the largest energy consumer in the unit – was removed and replaced with a reverse cycle air conditioner. There then followed a succession of improvements as we could afford them over the next four years. After having our roof reconditioned and painted with a light reflective paint (cream) our 4kw of solar PV panels were installed. According to my calculations this would provide us with enough power and income so that we did not have to pay any power bills. This will change next January when our feed in tariff drops from 31c a kilowatt hour to about 7c.
Then came replacing incandescent globes first with compact fluorescents and then LEDs and installing a heat pump for the hot water. About a year ago I obtained a copy of Beyond Zero Emission’s The Energy-Freedom Home: How to wipe out gas and electricity bills in nine steps. To my delight I discovered that my decision to remain an all-electric house was the correct one. Since then we have replaced the last of our power guzzlers – our old electric stove and oven – with an induction cooktop stove and topped up our roof insulation.
We now are now only a step or two away from the book’s grand design with work planned on indoor curtain pelmets, eliminating the last few draughts and external cover for north facing walls and windows. If you are even considering getting gas on or weaning yourself off it The Energy-Freedom Home is the way to go. More information on the book can be found here and it can be purchased here for $40 plus $12 postage.