In 1982, when David and Margery bought their little house in a former public housing area, they could look out the windows of their bedroom and see what everyone had been wearing during the week, for one could see everyone washing on the strings in their backyards. His love of nature was developed in the early years by living close to nature in Malta and the English Midlands.
You can not do that now because David has turned his garden into a native plant paradise. The added benefits include a wealth of wildlife and a more pleasant microclimate. Today the house is located in a lush glen, which attracts local birds and small reptiles. Yes, he has some snakes, but none that pose a danger. You can feel the temperature drop as you enter the gate and under the canopy.
In addition to transforming the farm, David has made the house more climate resistant. He has insulated the ceilings and clad the exterior walls. When he recently added an extra room, he insulated the western walls. The carport is covered with “SunTuf polycarbonate roofing”, which lets the light in but keeps the heat out. He has 9 solar panels on the roof and two batteries. The batteries are an AC-connected all-in-one battery energy storage system (BESS). It can help to achieve the optimal utilization of renewable energy. This system can control the bidirectional flow of electric current, work under automatic / manual and time consumption (TOU) modes and charge / discharge the battery according to the customer’s setting. This system will store excess renewable energy on the battery and discharge battery supply current to local loads when renewable energy is not enough. The batteries were installed as part of a trial period and came with a reduced price.
These improvements have been made over time, as the economy has allowed. When a household appliance broke down, it was replaced by a more energy-efficient and climate-friendly product. When the family’s washing machine broke down, David spent a lot of time researching the most water and energy efficient machine to replace it. At the time, Brisbane was in the midst of a 10-year drought, and we all learned how to cope with less water. He ended up deciding on a front loader with 4 and a half stars (out of 5). He would not suggest that we take our laundry down to the river and knock it with a stone to save electricity.
However, he mowed his ever-diminishing lawn with a lawn mower until he wore it out and replaced it with a Stihl battery electric one. Eventually, all of his garden and handyman tools are replaced with battery electric. Of course, the battery is recharged in the middle of the day from his solar panels. David uses timers to make optimal use of solar energy.
When the gas hot water system died after many years of good service, David did the research again and bought a Rheem heat pump water heater, which consumes less energy than an electric water heater. The evaporator of the water heater absorbs heat from the ambient air and transfers this heat to the water. Even on cloudy or cold days, heat is drawn from the ambient air. This is also on a timer and heats water from solar energy and ambient air temperature in the middle of the day. He has also installed two water tanks.
David has not yet switched to an electric vehicle, but most of his commute to work on public transportation. When he takes on excursions in his job as an environmental consultant for Energy Queensland, which includes studies for protected facilities so they can be avoided when building new power lines, he has a Nissan Leaf at his disposal. His Mazda 6 is only rarely used on weekends. He puts his money where his heart is – donates to charities that buy land for conservation – Rainforest rescue and Bush Heritage Australia. He has made sure that his pension is invested ethically.
Many of the things David has done can be copied by others. We can consider where to start and how to make homes and backyards better habitats for ourselves as well as for our flora and fauna.
David Barnes has worked as a landscape architect and ecologist for over 30 years and has worked for the past 9 years as an environmental consultant for Energy Queensland.
David’s Garden has starred in the television programs “Gardening Australia” and “Totally Wild.”
Do you appreciate the originality of CleanTechnica? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, technician or ambassador – or patron of Patreon.