north bedroom pre-renovation
north bedroom retrofit
recycled materials 2
Wicking Bed Watering
Highton: House and garden retrofit
House Size: 112m²
Land Size: 591m²
Project Type: Retrofit
Open (Free Entry): 16 October 10am - 2pm
Experts on Site
Jay Clarke - Switch Events
Providing homeowners with the tools, resources and support to successfully get off gas and achieve an all-electric home
Elise McNamara - Chicken Coach
If you want tips on getting started with backyard poultry, and how to keep them healthy, come and chat with Elise.
About the house
The 1960s brick veneer house was icy cold and draughty when I moved in 2014. My initial focus in the first few years was on reducing draughts, LED lighting upgrade, installing ceiling fans, installing underfloor insulation and upgrading to a hot water heat pump when my gas hot water heater died.
In late 2017 I installed a small solar array, and had pump-in wall insulation installed to reduce heat loss through the walls. I then discovered that my existing ceiling insulation was a complete mess, with gaps and holes and compressed batts, so I had the existing batts reinstated, and a second layer of batts installed over the top. This made a huge difference to thermal comfort - the house felt much more snug and really held on to the heat once the ceiling insulation was fixed up.
I also had a north window cut into the north wall of a gloomy bedroom to create a sun room/guest room, which is now a lovely place to hang out in winter.
While re-painting the house in 2019 I decided to remove the old gas heater and, while the plasterer was fixing the hole in the wall, I got him to seal up the wall vents as well. I then had a new 5kW Daikin reverse cycle airconditioner installed, and this has significantly improved thermal comfort, and also helped to reduce condensation in the house.
I removed my last gas appliance, the stovetop, in early 2021 and replaced it with an induction stove. The induction is so much safer, easier to control, easier to clean and much faster at boiling water. This final upgrade enabled me to cancel my gas account, which means I am no longer paying gas connection charges.
Through all these upgrades, I’ve halved my average daily winter energy costs while significantly improving thermal comfort in the house.
My house used to be freezing, most days were colder than 16 degrees indoors. Now my living area is always warmer than 16 degrees, even though my bills are much cheaper now. From a comfort, health and quality of life aspect, it’s been a great investment and if I ever move house again I will budget for all these upgrades and do them straight away.
My other focus has been on building a rich permaculture garden that provides me with fruit, veggies and eggs. I have over 20 fruit trees, wicking beds, chickens. I am collecting over 1.5 tonnes of kitchen scraps each year from neighbours and turning it into compost. I’ve also used a range of recycled materials to build garden elements, including recycled timber and tin in wicking beds and chook pen, and recycled roof tiles, floor tiles and bricks for garden edging and retaining walls. I’ve built a pond to support biodiversity (frogs, fish, insects), and have compost and worm farming.
My next focus will be adding more solar panels to completely offset my grid consumption, and building nest boxes for microbats.