Moonee Ponds house

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[[Image:hudson_deck.jpg|thumb|right|deck and sails]] [[Image:hudson_deck.jpg|thumb|right|deck and sails]]
-<big>'''house features'''+<big>'''House features'''
* Passive solar design * Passive solar design
* Solar panels * Solar panels

Revision as of 23:13, 11 December 2009

Owners Glenn and Karen Tempest
Location Moonee Ponds, Melbourne
Country Australia
Type Sustainable renovation
House size Medium, 211 metres squares
Land size 468.2 meters squared

moonee ponds drawing
moonee ponds drawing
deck and sails
deck and sails

House features

  • Passive solar design
  • Solar panels
  • Solar hot water
  • Rainwater tanks
  • Greywater system
  • Double glazing
  • Forest friendly timber
  • Low energy appliances


Our Goals

Our house was originally a fairly typical inner suburban house - a Victorian era, double-fronted timber home, in a street filled with similar houses. In 2006 we decided to renovate and turned to Andreas and Judy Sederof from Sunpower Design. The brief was to retain the original facade, in keeping with the streetscape, and to create a contemporary light filled extension/renovation with extended outdoor living to make the most of the valley views and to incorporate the best energy efficient and water saving initiatives. We also required an open plan office space where we could run our growing business, Open Spaces Publishing.

In October 2006 the builders arrived and quickly demolished the back of our house leaving only the front four rooms. After 9 months we moved back in. Of the original house only the front two rooms remained unchanged. But we added an en suite and two north facing windows to the master bedroom. The remaining part of the old house became the bathroom, an ensuite and second office space. The new addition is two storey with steps leading downstairs to the large office space (or third bedroom), laundry, bathroom (for the office staff) and wine cellar (NOT for the office staff). Another small room became the hub room where all the cabling in the house is terminated (network, security, coax and electricity). Upstairs, from the original house level, our new extensions is an open-plan living space split over two levels, the lower level is the living area and the higher one the kitchen & dining room leading out to an extensive deck. This extends the living space and suits our outdoor lifestyle. The deck is also split-level and gives us access down into our backyard.

We took advantage of the fact that our house is orientated east west with the rear of the house facing west. This allowed up to create a series of large north-facing windows along the length of the building. These provide plenty of natural light and passive heating/cooling throughout. These windows are double glazed (like all the windows in the house) and are protected from the summer heat with large external awnings and inner blinds. We have added sun sails to the rear deck which also protect the western windows from the summer heat.

Solar Panels

solar array
solar array

Over 60% of our electricity is supplied by 10 x BP 165 watt solar panels (for a total of 1.65 kilowatts). The panels have been placed on the roof and we have the room to install a further 10 panels at some point in the future. Our Power Solutions SGB. 5KW (48V) inverter is situated in the garage. We originally were to have the inverter installed in the houser but changed our plans when it became apparent that it produces a distinct (though not loud) high pitch whine. We also have 4 x Sonnenschein Solar Batteries (12V/185 Amp Hours - a total of 740 Amp Hours) as a power backup standby system, which means that the house does not suffer from grid brownouts or blackouts. This is very handy for our business as we have 4 PCs running all day (and 2 NAS devices in the hub room) and didn't have to install any UPS (Uninterrupted Power supply) systems. The backup system kicks in automatically and will provide us with at least 4 hours of power, depending upon what we are running at the time. Excess electricity is sold back to the grid as green energy. The average annual power generation is 2400KW. Karen would love to install another ten solar panels just so we don't ever have to buy electricity from the power companies again...!

  • Solar electricity system -- North Central Energy Services (03) 5442 8933.

Solar Hot Water

  • Unit -- Edwards Stainless Steel LX305 (305 litre tank).
  • Gas booster -- Edwards Comfort 200A (5.5 star).
  • Solar Hot Water system -- Insolar (03) 9328 4884.

Rainwater Tanks

We have 2 x 9,000 litre water tanks (a total of 18,000 litres) at the bottom of the garden. We have a Davey pump fitted into the garage next to the tanks and this is used to provide water to all the taps in the house as well as the washing machine, solar hot water system and dishwasher. We have one (cold) tap in the kitchen which connected to the mains supply. Should our tanks run low (this has happened twice) we can easily switch over to mains water.

  • Tanks -- Tanks A Lot (03) 9776 6016.

Greywater System

Under our garden deck we have buried a 3000 litre tank for use as a greywater system. This tank is filled with all of our shower water runoff and is also connected to all the basins in the house and to our laundry trough and washing machine. This water is aerated and treated with ozone so that we can use it for flushing the toilets and for the garden. Two x 5 micron filters are used to clear the sediment from the greywater before it fills the cisterns in our toilets. The system works well although we did go through about 6 months of teething problems until everything settled down. We have very little smell from the greywater and it is generally very clear. The toilets have to be cleaned a couple of times a week as a little sediment does seem to build up but this is not too much of a hassle. We don't use any blu loo type products.

  • Greywater System -- Garden Saver Australia (03) 9747 0201.


  • The house is fitted throughout with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The original part of the house (now the bedrooms and entry hall) was unfortunately fitted with low voltage halogens (if a product ever needed to be banned then this is it!) so we retro-fitted them all with GU 10 Megaman 9 Watt CFLs. They take about three minutes to warm up to their full brightness which is not a problem in the bedrooms and is in fact often advantageous. For those that feel they are not bright enough Megaman now have an 11 Watt version.
  • In the office we have LED desk lamps.

Heating and Cooling

The double glazing works incredibly well (as well as keeping the house very quiet). We have a Carrier evaporative air conditioning system in the original part of the house and it still works well. Evaporative coolers are ideal in hot environments with low humidity (such as a Melbourne summer). Due to the passive solar design of the house we rarely use the evaporative cooler (maybe a dozen times through summer). The lower level of the house (and our office space) has a concrete slab which maintains a remarkably constant year-round temperature. This area rarely needs to be heated (we have installed a gas Rinnai Energysaver 308 FTR, 4.3 star) and has never required cooling - even on the hottest days. Upstairs we have a Cannon Canterbury space heater which is our only source of heating. It is a great product,is Australian built and has an energy rating of 4.5 stars. The original part of the house is still serviced with gas central heating and although we have had ducts installed into the lounge area, we have yet to turn it on. Every room in the house is fitted with bi-directional fans.

  • Energysaver 308 FTR gas heater -- Rinnai 1300 555 545.
  • Cannon Canterbury gas space heater -- Sampford and Staff 1300 72742.

Wired For The Future

Because we run a small business that is heavily reliant on computers and the internet we decided to wire the house as follows:

  • A Rackpac cabinet in our hub room has 2 x cat6 AMP Netconnect patch panels (each with 24 ports) for the computer network, and a third 24 port patch panel for faxes and phones.
  • Cat 6 LAN cable (for networked computers)is distributed from the hub room to 35 separate wall outlets around the house. Gigabit networking is much faster than wireless.
  • Telephone and faxes use Cat 6 cable and is available at any of the 35 separate wall outlets.
  • RG6 coax (for both video and tv antenna) is fitted to a further 18 separate outlets around the house.
  • The intercom (colour video) and security system (motion sensors etc) all terminate inside the hub room.
  • The computer network uses a firewall/router and switch inside the hub room cabinet.
  • The network is connected to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server device (QNAP TS-209 Pro). This allows all PCs to access a central server with 2 x 1 terabyte hard drives configured as RAID 1.
  • We use a low energy (compared to plasma) LCD television which is connected to a second NAS server (QNAP TS-201) with 2 x 500GB hard drives in RAID 1 configuration. The television is also connected to a Beyonwiz PVR which has a 300GB hard drive and is also available to the network. This allows us to pull up and view any movies or images on the network, program any channels via an internet connected EPG (IceTV) and even sort through music files.

The Team At Sunpower Design

  • Architect: Brent Lamb
  • Engineer: Andreas Sederof
  • Colour and image consultant: Judy Sederof

The Builder

  • Bryan Tyler 0411 556755

The Plumbers

  • Dayne Hunt at Running Hot Plumbing 0403 184 844;
  • Keith Hodgson 0411 471 763


  • Pickering Joinery 5243 4166


  • Greg Hallinan at Northern Masonry 0418 354 764


  • Reproduced with permission by Sanctuary Magazine and the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) (03) 9639 1500
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