Sustainable ideas underpin these alternative homes

OPEN the door to sustainable living by touring some of Australia's most environmentally progressive homes on show during Sustainable House Day on September 11. 

The Robinson house at Tullera in the Northern Rivers was designed specifically to maximise air flow in summer and capture as much of the sun's energy as possible in winter. 

"It is working brilliantly," owner Helen says.

"We have a pedestal fan in storage and didn't get it out once last summer. The house was really comfortable all through.

"We have a slow combustion fire which we light from time to time when we have guests or just want to look at the fire, or maybe cook on it.

"We grow all our own fruit, except green apples, and almost all our own vegetables. The garden, approximately half-an-acre, is more productive every year."

The 100-square-metre, owner-built home contains two bedrooms and one bathroom.

"We have a comfortable lounge/dining room in which 20 of our Landcare friends could sit and socialise comfortably in," Helen says. 

"My kitchen is big enough for me to whip up a storm. We have a smallish bathroom by modern standards but it has a lovely big shower and room for a bench seat outside the shower. 

"We don't have a bathtub but then we live on tank water so we wouldn't be wasting that water anyway. Jim and I share a study which can be a bedroom for visitors. There is also an entrance space/music area which can also accommodate visitors.

"The short and tall of it is that we have a house which very comfortably accommodates us and all our visitors. 

"Why would we build a house bigger than we need to live a lovely comfortable life?

"We are very happy with our house. It is very, very thermally efficient, so much so that I have to open the sliding door in the middle of winter to cool the bedroom a little. 

"Two adults, two dogs and sometimes a couple of cats generate quite a bit of warmth. 

"The house was put in this spot with this orientation to utilise the prevailing breezes."

Helen looks forward to lots of people visiting the place on Sustainable House Day and sharing knowledge and experiences.

The Robinson house will be open 10am to 4pm on Sunday, September 11.

See the Sustainable House Day website for details of other homes open in the Northern Rivers.

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