Terry Teoh and his partner bought their Edwardian brick bungalow in East Brunswick 14 years ago, but it took them a while to get an energy transition underway.
Starting with a renovation in 2012, they focussed first on improving the thermal comfort and efficiency of their existing home with a new addition designed to passive solar principles. But over the last few years they switched their focus to energy, installing solar in 2016, a battery in 2018, and having their home disconnected from gas in 2020.
Taking control of their energy
For Terry, the final move away from gas was the final step to becoming a fully solar/electric household, and to be able to take control over how they make, use, store and share their renewable energy with the community.
“Meeting almost all of our needs from solar means that we are protected from electricity price rises in future. Energy is now on everyone’s mind,” he says.
Rather than take an ad hoc approach to improvements, Terry recommends those considering the journey start by getting a Residential Efficiency Scorecard, just like he did.
“An efficiency scorecard is a government scheme that gives you a holistic picture of what will give you best bang for buck,” says Terry.
“For $250 to $500, it’s a great investment because you’re not dealing with vendors trying to make a sale, you’re getting independent advice from an expert on what steps might be best for your home.”
Terry’s home achieved 10 on the scorecard, meaning his home is now “on average a zero energy cost house that exports electricity overall”.
He shares these findings, and more, with people during Sustainable House Day (he’s opened the home twice!).
Low hanging fruit
Terry also recommends people start by doing the “humble things” that cost less, like “installing canvas external blinds on the east and west of your home to keep out summer heat”.
He has also happily adjusted his lifestyle by heating rooms where the family spend the most time, rather than the whole home, to “smash down energy costs”.
A convert to induction
Terry cautions against his former tilt towards gas cooking.
“I was wedded to gas cooking,” he laughs. “I spent my life cooking with a gas flame and I couldn’t imagine anything else would be ‘real’ cooking, but I’ve been completely won over. Induction is brilliant.”