How to stay cool in summer? How to be warm in winter? Our new home, new to us anyway, is sited poorly and has only one air-conditioner in the family room so cooling and heating can be a challenge.
I’m finding I can live without air-conditioning in the summer -most rooms have ceiling fans. Seems ridiculous to be thinking about heating in this hot, hot, dry summer we’re having , but I’ve been worrying at the options since last winter in this house. I was living as simply and sustainably as I could and I froze.
After many months we are about to have an air-conditioner installed in the lounge room and solar panels put on the roof- very exciting.
I spent the winter months asking people what heating they used. Here in the country, almost universally, the answer was a wood fire or stove.
Now I had a pot belly stove in my last house and used it at first. But coming home from work to a cold house, chopping wood, cleaning out the ashes, carrying the wood upstairs, lighting the fire and waiting for the house to warm…I have limited energy and am prone to viruses. I found I resorted to an electric heater quite often. Besides, you can’t turn a wood stove down! Once it’s hot…it’s often too hot and I don’t like sleeping too warm. I’d phone friends and tell them I had all the doors and windows open.
Now, I am ten years older. Realistically, I know I wouldn’t handle the effort of maintaining a wood fire.
Here on the coast where so many people have wood fires, the amount of available wood is becoming scarcer. We are using up animal habitats. Personally I can’t get past the fact too, that respiratory related problems due to smoke inhalation is the major cause of infant mortality in the developing world. Although Australia is not a developing country I don’t want to add to a world problem. This is my choice and I understand it’s not for everyone.
In my previous house I put on gas. Being a city girl I had the notion that gas was the cheapest and most efficient. Here in the country, there’s no gas pipeline, it’s bottled gas. Not cheap! Besides, I’m nervous of gas. So that leaves air-conditioning and solar energy.
I’d like batteries to store the excess energy on those days of abundant sunshine, but I don’t think it’s possible to use batteries and stay connected to the grid- something I haven’t researched. I’m not ready to go “off the grid.”
What have I learnt through this process? I’ve learnt that I find it much more difficult to make choices when I’m using some of my small financial capital. There’s less room for error. Even more crucial has been knowing that the choices affect the state of this planet.
Will I use air-conditioning on those cloudy, cold days when the panels don’t generate enough energy? I don’t know, but I do know that I care passionately about climate change and am committed to living sustainably and simply.