If I could isolate one part of our home that facilitates our way of living the most it would be our roof. There has been a lot going on up there in the past couple of months and it's all exciting stuff. Well, it's exciting to me. :- ) I told you all about the solar panels we had installed in April, then, last Thursday, when we were out, the solar system meter box was installed. That gives us a good idea of our usage and what is going into the main grid. From what we've seen so far, I think we've paid our last power bill! Not only does that decrease our cost of living, it also lightens our footprint, and for that, I'm very thankful.
The thing I haven't told you about yet is that Hanno started the huge job of roof cleaning, maintenance and painting. Our home was built in 1985 and the corrugated steel roof has protected us since we moved here in 1997. However, there have been leaks lately, especially on the verandah, and something needed to be done. Hanno examined the roof a couple of months ago, cleaned it with the Gerni and started checking the bolts holding the roof on. Many of them were rusty and had to be replaced (with slightly larger ones so they gripped the timber in the old hole) and all of them were treated with White Knight Rust Guard - a liquid that removes rust then primes and seals the metal. There were over 450 bolts in total. Just that was a huge job but it had to be done - we want this maintenance to keep the roof in good order for another 25 years. Hanno will be 95 then and I will be 88. If it needs further maintenance after that, we might get someone else to do it; although knowing Hanno, he'll probably want to have a go at it himself. :- ) I am really pleased that he is able and willing to do this kind of home maintenance. It has saved us thousands of dollars and it helps us live well in our little home.
When all the bolts had been replaced and sealed, Hanno started painting. There are two newer sections that we built when we came to live here - the garage and a bedroom extension. Those areas were painted in Taubmans exterior gloss. Hanno said gloss is better for that purpose because it will be easier to clean in future years with the Gerni. The rest of the house was painted with a solar reflective off-white paint called Globalcoat. It's a specialty high gloss acrylic paint, made in Australia, for concrete, terracotta and metal roofs. It's like a rubber coating that doesn't chip or peel and is guaranteed for 10 years. He's been painting for about six weeks now, it needs two coats, and he's still going up the ladder everyday to do a bit. It's almost finished, thank goodness.
Being solar reflective, the paint will increase the energy efficiency of our roof and along with the other elements up there, while keeping us sheltered from cold, rain and sun, will help us consume less electricity. Our roof is one of the reasons why a small solar unit will give us all the power we use.
Along with the solar panels that give us solar electricity, we have a solar hot water unit. This has been operating perfectly since it was installed in 1998. Solar hot water cuts about 30% off the average electricity bill in Australia. We also have three skylights - one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom and one in the laundry. We have no windows in that bathroom or our laundry but even on dull days we don't have to turn on the light in those rooms. The skylight in the kitchen was installed when we added our back verandah, which made the kitchen quite dark. The light is never on in the kitchen during the day, the skylight gives us excellent light at no cost to us or the environment. Also up on the roof, we have whirly birds that spin due to their design, extracting hot air in the roof. These, together with the solar reflective paint now on the roof, should make quite a difference in summer.
We have a great roof and like other parts of our home, it has been modified to suit our way of living. We aim to keep it in good order so it will continue to help us live lightly on our tiny portion of the world. We have lived here for 14 years, the paint and the solar panels have been added this year, as we could afford them. The solar hot water, whirly birds and skylights were added in exactly the same way - when we could afford them. It doesn't matter if you can't do everything you want to do in your home when you first move in. Just devise a plan, save your money, and add what you can, when you can. It might take a while, but if you're living true to your values and those values include being as self reliant and energy efficient as possible, then it doesn't matter how long it takes. Make a plan, work towards your goals, and buy when it is wise to buy.