Ballarat couple Sandra and Peter Hawkins are doing all they can to reduce their carbon emissions while creating a comfortable home.
They purchased their split level three-bedroom brick veneer, cathedral ceilinged home in 2014 and have been working since to complete an eco retrofit.
We wanted to reduce our emissions and we wanted a comfortable house to live in in the Ballarat climate.Sandra Hawkins
Ms Hawkins shared details of their experience and learnings during a Smart Living Ballarat Sustainable House Day online talk last week.
"We love being off gas, living in a healthier, more comfortable home with only one affordable energy bill which also covers our car charging," she said.
Ms Hawkins said they chose the house because it was close to town, enabling them to have only one electric car, it was not too big, was affordable and had north orientation for winter sun.
They started their eco retrofit journey with a home efficiency assessment.
"We wanted to reduce our emissions and we wanted a comfortable house to live in in the Ballarat climate," Ms Hawkins said.
Ms Hawkins said the biggest change to comfort levels in the home was adding insulation to the cathedral ceilings.
"The change is noticeable in temperature," she said.
Ms Hawkins said filling gaps around skirting boards, window frames and doors was an easy change every home owner could make themselves.
They had the help of professionals to do bigger projects like under floor insulation, putting double glazed windows into existing frames, installing shutters on windows and solar on the roof.
A solar hot water heat pump system was one of the first changes the couple made to start their move away from gas.
They have since replaced other gas appliances with an induction stove, reverse cycle air conditioning and also purchased a solar oven for use outside.
"It was a big thing for us to get off gas as soon as we could. Gas is a fossil fuel. It drives us crazy that so many houses have gas central heating and gas cooking," Ms Hawkins said.
"It is so much more comfortable living in the house. It feels healthier. The air from our heating feels better than having a gas heater going. It feels healthier to have a gas free home."
Ms Hawkins said she was concerned about climate change.
"We are doing all we can to reduce our emissions personally and we would like to see a lot more government action, that is for sure," she said.
"The housing standards should be brought up. Houses should be at least seven star. There are lots of people doing good things in Ballarat. We just need to get the big developers on board."
The Hawkins spent $43,000 on their retrofit over seven years and it has already saved them thousands in energy bills.
Victoria's 6-star standard energy efficiency standard for homes has been in place since 2011.
State and territory building ministers will decide whether to incorporate new standards in the National Construction Code in September 2022.
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