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Progressive sustainability

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truelife

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My family and I recently moved from Darwin to Caulfield, a Melbourne suburb in Victoria. I wanted to be close to my job, I work as an acupuncturist in one Melbourne clinic; and my wife and I were beginning a new phase of our lives with the birth of our third child. Of course the question of what to use for energy source came up during the planning stages.

We wanted to minimise the cost of heating for our home. With energy rates going up, standard baseboard heating for the cold and wet winters in Caulfield would leave a dent in our ability to support the growing family. We also didn't want to depend on carbon-spewing brown coal that the majority of Victoria households use.

So my wife and I did a little bit of research and consulted our builders. With their help, we came to our final decision, that the best option for our home would be geothermal heating. Our builders told us that Victoria has a rich source of from several natural underground geothermal bores and other artificial ones. Some have been used to power towns, but direct heating to homes is also available from several companies that are developing Sedimentary Geothermal Systems (from existing reservoirs) and Engineered Geothermal Systems (artificially created reservoirs).

The System Installation

Once we'd decided we were going with geothermal water for heating, the construction guys helped us with getting the permits. If you're a landholder, you will need to obtain an Exploration Permit from the authorities if you want to extract geothermal energy from land that belongs to the Crown. The company that installs your system should also have an Extraction License.

Our builders were a great help throughout the process. They also got us in touch with a company that had already installed 20 such geothermal units in Victoria in the last 10 years and were licensed to use the technology.

Next, the building process had already begun and it was time for the pipelines to be laid. Our land had the perfect layout to let us easily bury the plastic tubing about 1.8 meters to 2.4 meters into the ground. Ours is a typical horizontal system. But you can also install a vertical system, in which the pipes are laid through holes that are about 40 meters to 60 meters deep. A mixture of antifreeze and water is circulated through the system and the home is heated. The building company helped us through each step of the way, explaining our options and being completely transparent all throughout. (Thanks guys!)

The Cost

While the initial cost is a little hefty, at around $20,000, I believe the operational costs more than make up for it. We've been using ours for a while and each month I pay only $200 towards energy costs monthly. That is at least half of any other major household energy source. The initial capital will certainly pay back down the line in 10 or 20 years when energy becomes more expensive.

The Advantages of Geothermal Heating

The direct heat obtained from geothermal energy can be used for heating water, forced air conditioning and for hydronic slab heating, among other things. The technology uses the fact that the hot water in underground reservoirs remains within a constant range of temperatures. Heat is transferred from these reservoirs to the house with a very high efficiency.

We've been using our two 14 kW heat pumps for a while now with their two fan coil units. They heat water to about 40 degrees C for our domestic hot water and the floor heating. Inside our home the temperature is a comfortable 22 to 24 degrees C, but we can change cooling or heating requirements.

Our heating providers worked with the builders and gave us a choice between indoor and outdoor units. We chose an indoor one, as no ventilation is required. The system is very safe to use and incredibly quiet as well, so I'm immensely pleased with it. It remains to be seen if it is the same a few years down the line!

truelife

House charm is one thing every family would always keep an eye on. How attractive your clothes suit you should reflect the appearance of your home. One natural system of designing and maintaining your house is the Green wall. It is also referred to as living wall system. These are vertical structures that are currently replacing the system of growing small herbs and flowers in containers. This format delicately combines a variety of flora colours splashed on the vertical wall filling it with flowering plants and foliage. This make walls hydroponic gardens that mix beauty and natural art to deliver an aesthetic effect. It also helps to filter the air both outside and inside.

Providing a cooling effect

Offices, malls and even civic centres have benefited from the cooling and calming effect created by an interior green wall. Indeed, it has been discovered that they bring about this effect, especially on guests. The soothing peaceful plants help ease the senses. People claim that this feeling is caused by elimination of organic compounds in the air. You wonder how nature creates a problem then solves it. By removing gaseous components such as carbon dioxide and destroying the dangerous bacteria in the air enable guests to breathe well thus making them feel better.

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Types of plants

Some known and common type of plants used to decorate the house and help purify air include: English ivy, Elephant ear, spider plants, Aloe Vera, golden Pothos and Philodendron. Types of plants used are very many, but most that suit to provide calmness have to thrive in both direct and indirect sunlight. When building an indoor green wall, it is advisable to ensure that there will be sufficient circulation in the room. Fixing fans will help most if they are placed close enough to provide a breeze in the room.

Construction

When coming up with a wall, a good material to begin wit is the Tuffelt synthetic type which is made from corrugated plastic. Cutting slits on them enables flowing plants to grow going down while the backside is supported by the part attached to the frame. It is also preferable that air plants be put on the board as they don’t require soil and water. Well designed systems can be able to irrigate plants while at the same time draining them. You can search online to find some of the latest designs and systems that can provide instructions together with material needed or hire a home building crew with experience in sustainable construction, at least for consult.

Where to start from

It is with no doubt that this method of cleaning air can suit nearly every home. If you check on different social sites, many hobbyists are sharing photos and ideas of how best their rooms look. You can use this displays of lavish green walls to start up your own. It is good to simply start with the crawling Ivy until you gain confidence on how to best mix them. You will progressively find it easier to try out new combinations with the aim of improving the look in your house.

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This wall system is a good idea to aid apartments that are stagnant and airtight. It does not necessarily mean that the wall must be large; one should opt to start with a smaller part of a wall. A perfectly created outdoor system will add life and are simpler to care for because of the availability of sunlight. Patience is needed in trying to improve your home’s environment without concentrating on beauty alone.

Image credit: Flickr

Image credit: Flickr

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