Going off grid in retirement is a dream for many, and reality for this couple who run their house and car from a solar and micro-hydro power system.
When Peter and Robyn Tuft decided to make a move from Sydney to Southern Tasmania, they sometimes joked about being climate change refugees – but their joking was only partly in jest. Sydney was getting too hot and too busy. They yearned for a cooler climate, a slower pace and water views. Their journey in search for a refuge brought them to an 80 hectare slice of heaven in the hills above the village of Kettering, and ultimately to the creation of a home that would tread lightly on the planet.
In its relatively remote hilltop location, the house had to be fully self-sufficient for energy and water. Solar panels provide all electricity, supplemented by a micro-hydro generator when the creek on the property flows in the cooler months. All water is harvested off the roof and hot water comes from the roof-mounted solar system. This is supplemented by the wetback indoor wood heater which also supplies a hydronic heating system in both pavilions. The two bathrooms have composting toilets and grey water is filtered through reed beds before being used to irrigate the property’s orchard. All appliances were selected for low energy and water consumption. The house produces vastly more energy than it uses so the excess is used to charge an electric car.
Peter and Robyn are also keen to share the house with others to demonstrate the superb results that can be attained in sustainable building. “This house is so comfortable – much more so than our on-grid Sydney house. It’s really testament to what’s possible with living off-grid.”