Sandy and Tom Tyndall’s Nuriootpa home looks like the beautifully appointed, modern home many aspire to own, yet it’s only when you step inside that its hidden secrets are truly revealed.
The Buna Terrace house is anything but normal, there are certainly no cookie cutter design concepts here.
Open living space with a free flowing layout maximises comfort and liveability, whilst Sandy and Tom’s extensive research into the latest building materials and state-of-the-art technology have resulted in an independent assessor giving their home a 7.9 energy rating out of a possible eight.
“You can’t get much better than that,” Tom said.
“We wanted to build a really comfortable, warm, environmentally sustainable home. That’s what we set out do and that’s what we’ve achieved.”
Use of extra high quality insulation in the walls and ceilings of every room, including the garage which has a well sealed, enviro-panel-lift door to reduce heat loss; the inclusion of hot water diverters and the installation of insulation barriers around the footings of the house are just some of the clever ideas used.
“The big one is the ‘hydronics’ which is plastic tubing that carries hot water all through the slab,” explained Tom.
“As the house was being built, it was integrated so we have under floor heating in all the living areas including the laundry and linen press.”
The day The Leader visited, the thermostat for the slab was reading 26 degrees.
Sandy said, “The air temperature is 22 degrees. In the afternoon it goes up to 22-24. It holds its heat all night until the pump comes back on in the morning!”
The system’s controls are neatly hidden in an easily accessible cupboard within the home’s impressive walk-in linen press behind the large laundry and the electricity powering the pump for the system is generated through the 11 kW solar array.
She said excess power generated during summer pays for winter.
“Although you are only getting 10 cents per kilowatt hour back as a rebate now….it’s still worthwhile getting solar put in because it does, overall, reduce your power bill.
In summer we built up our credit to $570. Our first winter bill was only $30 and that came off our credit amount. It is costing us $1.87 a day on average and we are consuming 12.1 kW per hour on average which is pretty damn good!”
“We haven’t paid for electricity since we’ve been here,” added Sandy.
“We were renting last year and our last winter bill before we moved into here in September, was $1,200 and now it’s nothing.”
Tom and Sandy chose not to install batteries after deciding the technology was still too expensive. However, their inverter is battery ready, saving extra costs in the future.
“That’s just one little tip that we’ve learned along the way!”
The installation of double glazed windows has been a revelation for the retired teachers who have not only seen a dramatic reduction in power consumption, but also consistent temperatures for year round comfort.
“Double glazing isn’t just for winter, it’s for Summer as well because it keeps your house a lot cooler too,” added Sandy.
“I think we only used the air conditioner twice last summer.”
Tom said the orientation of the house is crucial to its success in sustainability.
“It’s north facing so that gives us an ideal position for the solar, but also the windows. The blinds normally go up and create a lot of sunlight on a day like today.”
Skylights and direct current (DC) fans found throughout the home not only offer a stylish touch but add to energy savings.
“Although they are little bit more expensive to start with, the cost effectiveness in the long term is fantastic. They are just so cheap to run. It’s something like half a cent an hour, it’s ridiculous.”
A butler’s kitchen and other well thought out storage areas, including walk in robe in the master bedroom, all add to the liveability of the home.
Tom has nicknamed the outside patio area the “entertainment precinct” with its automatic blinds, energy efficient heaters, more fans, Bose sound system, mood lighting, television and casual furniture enticing visitors all year round.
The installation of high quality synthetic lawns means mowing and watering are things of the past. However, the couple’s young dog “Coco” can still burn off energy running around catching his ball.
In the corner of the allotment is a paved area with a fire pit and more seating surrounded on two sides with extra high screens ensuring privacy.
Garden beds are drip irrigated and grow drought tolerant plants, all adding to the lifestyle Sandy and Tom enjoy.
“This is the ideal environment in which to have these elements in a sustainable home,” Tom said.
“That, to us, was our most crucial factor. To have a cost effective home which would potentially last us out, without any costings.”
Originally from Cairns, the couple are used to wearing short sleeves and they do inside during Barossa’s chilly winters, due to the cosiness of their home.
Both agree it was well worth putting the extra effort into researching the latest technologies and the ideas they have used are a result of knowledge they have accumulated over the past three decades living in other homes.
Tom has the following advice for anyone looking to build a sustainable home.
“Just do it! If you are going to live in a cold or hot environment, then you really need to weigh up how you are going to achieve that comfort,” Tom said.
“At the end of the day, it’s done through careful planning, careful consideration of the geography of the area and where you orientate the house. And don’t be frightened of using the technology that we’ve got available because it’s really helpful.”