Despite facing north, Diana and Ivor’s two-storey double brick home in Pymble suffered from dampness and mould on the lower level.
Concerned for the health of their two children they decided to look at sustainable options for improving their indoor air quality.
Tell us about your home
Diana: We love our house and garden - we have a large backyard with tall gum trees that provide a haven for bird life and plenty of shade in summer. The big yard has allowed us to keep two free-ranging chickens which fertilise the lawn and keep pests under control. The kids love collecting the eggs and looking after our worm farm and compost bins.
The main drawback is that it’s on a steep slope. As a result the rooms on the lower level suffered from condensation, dampness and mould and required a lot of heating in winter.
What did you do to change the air quality downstairs?
Ivor: We installed a solar air module system which is a home ventilation system powered by solar energy. The sun warms the glass panels on the roof and the hot air is sucked through a pipe and pushed into the lower storey of the house. This is all powered by a solar panel to minimise energy costs.
It removes the moisture and warms the room. The mould issue does not exist anymore and the air quality is cleaner.
Would you recommend solar-powered ventilation?
Diana: I think all split-level houses where the ground floor is colder could benefit from a system like this. It is now much better in winter but in summer it can make the room slightly hotter. However the ground floor is never too hot and you can control the timing so at certain times of the year you can turn it off or use the thermostat.
Ivor: I’d recommend anyone with a north-oriented house to install solar panels. Once they’re in the electricity is free. The payoff is very quick.
What else did you change?
Diana: Sustainability is an issue we are pretty big on as a family so involve our kids in trying to reduce our environmental footprint.
But anybody can make the simple and free changes - like closing doors and windows and draw the curtains on hot days. Open them in the evening to let in cool breezes and flush out the hot air. Simple actions like these can really make a difference rather than switching on air-conditioning.