Greening My Home

by Deb on April 20, 2012

house

On Tuesday I posted about ways to save energy at home with practical tips. Today I thought I’d look at our home and make some public commitments of things I can realistically change.

The house is fairly well designed – it was a pre-airconditioning house for the desert so is up on stilts with all bedrooms to the south. We also have a large verandah to the south so there is no direct sun on the bedrooms. On the north is a series of large mature leafy trees that provide excellent shade for the animals and our kitchen. The northern side of the house has the bathroom, laundry and storage with the study on the west and kitchen and living room in the east. We have open screen doors but don’t use the windows to get much breeze, they’re difficult to open and shut.

We do simple things like keeping the bathroom door shut and closing off the hall in the afternoon. We have heavy blockout curtains and blinds. I love my ceiling fans.

The biggest problems are my study, which is unshaded on the north and west, and of course the air-conditioning.

  1. I have just gone around and set all the airconditioning remotes one degree higher.
  2. We do need them for going to sleep, but not all night. So I’ve dug out the instruction manual and learned how to set the timer. I’m going to experiment on turning them off during the night and see how it goes.

new, efficient airconditioner

The study is a bit of a problem, which is why it hasn’t been fixed already. I do actually have a shade cloth and there were plans to attach it, the question is how. Because the house is elevated we’re talking about working 20 feet up. And because it’s metal cladding you can’t attach it anywhere convenient but have to find something load bearing, having seen the deck and roof going in I’m really, really, really not game to damage my house.

study

So does anyone have any brilliant ideas? You can see the remnants of the previous owner’s awnings, how do I shade a high window with really bad access and not have to wait 20 years for the trees to grow?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Astrid Sanschagrin April 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

That’s really great. Loved your idea of greening. It’s vital to save our environment and following some of these save energy tricks we can really make our earth a greener place to live. 🙂

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Fiona April 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Hi Deb, we planted Pittosporums along our west side…they grew so fast and although it was unplanned, they now do a brilliant job of shading our west-facing upper floor windows. Took 3 summers to grow that high, from memory. Only prob is they won’t stop growing (taller than the roof of our two-story house.) I think we’ll have to hire a cherry picker to prune and neaten up!

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Deb April 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm

That sounds good. I know nothing about them but according to Wikipedia they are Australasian so there might be some local-ish ones I can find. Thanks 🙂

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Trinity April 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I don’t know how helpful this will be, but we live in a Queenslander (up on stumps like yours) and had to put a privacy screen on our bathroom window – small blocks mean our neighbour’s kitchen is about 2.5 metres from our bathroom window. We wanted to be able to open our windows outwards, but retain some light too. We built a frame the correct size – a little larger than the windows- and covered it with shade cloth (tacked it around the outside and put the ugly side to our neighbour’s). It was made from treated pine so it was light enough to maneuver. We then put up a frame onto our house. This was done using right angle brackets attached to the wall, and then attaching some treated pine 2″ x 4″ pieces to them to hold the screen out far enough to let us open the windows. The frames were screwed in by us hanging out the windows, since we were working about 3m up. We then pulled the screen up with ropes, and with a bit of acrobatics, and hanging out the window, screwed it into the frame. And the acrobatics were made all the more fun by working in our bath, which is under the windows. We are lucky- the exterior of our house is hardwood weatherboard, so finding a beam was not necessary, but if you have (or can borrow) a stud finder (an electronic gadget you run along walls which beeps when there is a stud there- and no, it doesn’t work with the blokey kind of stud, my goofy hubby tried it:] ) then you can see if there are studs close to the windows. Most houses will have framing close to windows – there has to be some structure to hold the windows in place. It ended up being a pretty cheap fix for us. We could have gone fancy and got proper aluminum powder coated screens made up- but we didn’t care about beauty or views, since it was on the neighbour’s side. Still there 10 years on, although the shade cloth is looking a bit dirty, as we chose a light colour to allow light in.
I couldn’t see from your photos if it might be possible for you to attempt this. Depends on how handy you and hubby are. We couldn’t remove our windows- this would have made it a bit simpler. We did consider hiring a scissor lift too, but we’re too stingy to shell out for it.
That said, fast growing trees would be much more beautiful, greener and simpler.

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Melissa July 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I like your post because you gave me ideas on what to do in our own house, we have same problem and after reading now I know what to do. Thanks a lot!

Melissa
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