Sustainable House

Gavin Webber is an average man living in an average suburb in an average house, but "its like a suburban food forest I would say bit of an oasis in the suburbs and we try and grow as much food as we can." He's no hippy, he works full time but in an effort to cut his cost of living and reduce his carbon footprint, the father of four swapped lawns for fruit trees, flower bed for vegetables and his backyard now boasts "Cluckingham Palace"

"We get about 6 eggs a day we have 9 chooks at the momement so 6 eggs usually." 16 solar panels sit atop Gavin's roof, obliterating his electricity bills, "the last power bill was $40 but that was the network fee so I pay for no electricity the last gas bill was $20 and that was for 2 months in winter." By growing his own vegetables, eggs and by making jam, cheese and even soap, Gavin has halved his food bill - down from from $400 to $200 a fortnight but by far the biggest difference has been to his mortgage.

"We've saved quite a lot because what we've been able to do is triple our mortgage payments with the things that we've saved." In 2000, Gavin owed $180,000 on his home and was paying $700 a fortnight off his loan, five years ago he began paying $2100 a fortnight and now owes $110,000, estimating he'll have shed the mortgage millstone within the next 2 and a half years.

Renewable energy specialist Jeremy Rich is CEO of Energy Matters he says almost 20% of Australian houses are solar powered. "Its never been more affaordable to go solar in Australia the subsidies have reduced but the cost of solar panels has come down dramaticlaly and in addition to that electricity prices have risen to extreme highs and they're only going in one direction."On average it costs $7000 to set up a house with enough panels to eliminate elctricity bills, Jeremy says "well the calculations that energy matters has done on the paybacks is averaging around 5 years today for Australians to pay off the costs the upfront costs of the solar panels." Gavin says "nobody can relaly be self sufficient they need others in the community to help but yeah you really can you dont need a country block you dont need a couple of acres you can do it in the burbs." And this ordinary man from suburbia is happy to show you how via his blog the Greening of Gavin, "its had over 2 million page views now its been going for a few years now people write to me every day and say they're inspired by the way that I live and the stories that I write about projects that I do I think I've touched people all over the world"

www.thegreeningofgavin.com

www.energymatters.com.au