In his recent documentary Ten Bucks a Litre, entrepreneur Dick Smith asks the question of how Australians will cope when the price of petrol reaches ten dollars a litre and our electricity costs double or triple (click here to watch it on YouTube). It was sobering to watch, but it made our decision to buy a small home in the inner city seem like the right one for these times.
One of the best things about living close to the city is not having to drive everywhere. When we moved from the country, we were determined not to buy in a suburb where we would have to get in the car just to buy a carton of milk. On a recent walk we counted six car-free homes in our street. While it’s difficult to be completely car-free in Australia, selling our second car was one of the most satisfying things we did after buying our house. We saved a ton of money, and simplified our lives in the process.
Smaller houses cost less to run, particularly if they are well-insulated and face north. They are also cheaper to maintain and renovate, and a lot easier to clean. One of the most important factors in determining your family’s environmental footprint is the size of your home. As Kevin McCloud says in his book Principles of Home,
The most nonsensical eco-houses I’ve come across are the big ones. In fact they can’t rightfully be called eco houses.
According to Dick Smith, when my children get their driver’s licences petrol may well cost ten dollars per litre. And those families living in the outer suburbs without access to public transport may find the cost of living simply unaffordable. So I’m glad we bought into a lifestyle that we will be able to afford as our world changes.
PS: The Kindle version of Kevin McCloud’s book is now on sale for $1.96. It has lots of information about how to build an eco-friendly home.