When Michael and Kerri Wallace moved into their 1970s built home on Elizabeth Ave it had a gas heater. Given how expensive that was to run they quickly swapped to the tried and trusted Uralla method of heating – the ubiquitous wood heater! However, it took less than three years for the warm glow to wear off.
First there was the wood collecting – time consuming and not the most fun activity. Michael said “With supplies of wood dwindling away it was difficult to find properties where you could collect wood. We were getting it from a mate’s place at Kentucky but that was starting to get pretty bare.”
With many landholders now requiring wood collectors to have their own insurance it was looking like a pretty expensive way of heating. Kerri was also concerned about the safety aspects “Wood collection was the most dangerous activity I have seen my family undertake”. Plus there was significant resistance each night as the wood pile got low and the question “Who’s getting the wood in?” fell on deaf ears!
So Michael decided to move to reverse cycle AC. He knew that to make this work he would have to significantly improve the insulation of the house. Michael is a pretty handy builder so he put his skills to work, adding insulation to the roof and walls (which he then relined with new gyprock). Kerri selected some great day and night blinds to reduce heat loss from the windows.
To make running the AC economical they installed 9 kW of solar panels on the shed, no battery yet but that can come in time as prices com
e down. The one AC unit shoots warm air down the hall way and right through t
Would you go back to wood?
Kerri says “No way! The mess and wood cutting alone is a good enough reason. We were losing days of family time collecting it.”
Plus, Kerri now has space in the open kitchen living area for a family kitchen table and to move Sunny the pet bird out of the cold laundry to be part of the family.
“I can warm the whole house at the flip of a switch and don’t have the worry of small children playing around a hot wood heater” says Kerri.
Michael has repea
ted the insulation trick for a teenager pad in the shed which has its own AC. But combined with passive heating from the winter sun shining in has yet to be used very much. Michael says – “We sized the solar PV system to cover all our electricity use – ACs and hot water, so now we’re looking forward to low energy bills, if any at all”.