Just after Leigh Adamson retired, the house next door came up for sale. He snapped it up, removed the side fence to create a rare half acre block in suburbia and is now remodelling the second house as student accommodation as an alternative retirement income. Above all though, Leigh is readying both homes for the oncoming energy storage revolution with small grid-connect solar systems.
At the back of Leigh Adamson’s house is a Lord of the Rings inspired man-cave that towers over his Californian bungalow in suburban Geelong.
Hand built, with an exposed timber frame designed professionally, the shed – which seems too humble a name for such a structure – gives you clue that Leigh is the type of guy who loves a practical challenge.
As well as a small 1.5kW grid-connect system on his own home, Leigh has added an evacuated gas boosted hot water tube, a roof cavity-to-room heat transfer and recently built a sun room at the back of the house with materials he sourced on eBay.
“We don’t have double glazing at the back of the house, so the sun room provides a heat trap,” he said. “In winter it’s lovely to sit in there and have breakfast, in summer we close the blinds and it stops most of the heat coming in the house.”
His latest is converting the property next door into accommodation for up to 7 students. But this is no ordinary house share; as well as a planned 3.6kW system to be installed in December, Leigh has changed the gas water heater to electric in preparation and will plant a communal veggie patch to be used by both himself and his family and the students.
“I’ve always been interested in this stuff, I’ve wanted solar panels since I learned about them in 1976 when I was 16 doing environmental studies in year 12,” said Leigh. “My teacher was building a rammed earth house in the Grampians and was going to have a off grid solar panel/battery system.”
“I could not understand then why this wasn’t happening on every house roof in Australia, a sun drenched country.”
“I learned about climate change then and because I was living in a drought and flood prone area of Victoria, the Wimmera, I was acutely aware of how important it was then to do something to mitigate climate change.”
Leigh went on to teach environmental science himself and says that, over the years, he’s been disgusted by the behaviour of politicians, business leaders and the fossil fuel industry in attempting to stymie the uptake of renewable energy and energy storage.
“Funds for us as a family were tight, so it wasn’t until 7 years ago that I was able to afford my first grid connected solar system, which I was able to purchase them as part of a group bulk buy in my local area.”
“My overwhelming reason for wanting to do this was to assuage my rage at what was going on in Australia with wealthy and powerful groups acting to cling onto their massive profits at the expense of the world and ordinary people.”
“Ultimately, the aim is to get enough batteries to go off-grid with both my houses, as it will give me absolute satisfaction that I have acted to protect the planet in a meaningful way.”
“Saving money was a secondary interest and really more of a bonus.”
Like many, Leigh believes the oncoming energy storage revolution will enjoy a massive uptake by ‘average’ Aussie families like his.
“I believe, to coin a cliche, it will be an absolute GAME CHANGER,” Leigh says. “My prediction is that batteries will greatly contribute to people detaching from the grid or buying nothing from the grid and using it only as a back up supply.
Press link for more: Emma Sutcliffe | onestepoffthegrid.com.au