There are many ways that we can make the life we lead more sustainable by reducing our carbon footprint. Some are little things like remembering to take our own bags to the shops and looking for alternatives to over-packaged goods. These are the ongoing, day-in, day-out kind of things but today I want to tell you about our ‘big’ items.
We have what I think of as ‘the big three’. They are rainwater tanks, solar panels and solar hot water. They are my ‘silent giants’ because they keep on doing what they do every day with minimal input from me.
When we moved to our current property there was a 10,000 gallon concrete tank which was the only water supply as we are in a rural area and not connected to the town supply. Since then we have added another 10,500 gallon tank which brings our total capacity to 20,500 gallons (a little over 90,000 litres). We live in a high rainfall area (72 inches/1800mm average per year) and the tanks are almost always full (or overflowing).
Our solar hotwater system was one of the first improvements we made to the property when we purchased it a little over 5 years ago. We had systems in 2 of our previous homes and were delighted to discover that the group, Sustainable Maleny was looking to organise a bulk purchase. We joined this venture and are very happy with the system we chose. We have an electric booster with a manual switch and only turn it on when really necessary. This made a big reduction in both our electricity bill and our carbon emissions.
We decided last year to take the final step and get a grid-connected system of solar PV panels. There was a Sustainable Expo at the University of the Sunshine Coast for World Environment where we found a display by Auzion. We chose a 3.7kW system which we estimate will cover all our electricity needs plus a significant return each year which will see it pay for itself in about 5 years quite apart from the $0 bills. The system was finally installed in November and connected to the grid a few weeks later. I love seeing the numbers mount up on the display on the inverter but I have yet to really master calculating the generation vs. usage.
In these days of concern about climate change, drought and rising electricity prices it is a real delight to stand under a hot shower, secure in the knowledge that I am not contributing a single drop of carbon to the atmosphere. How cool is that?