Photo: Energy Australia
Want to live rent free for a year, and pay no costs for energy and water needs? Not enough incentive for you? How about the possibility of having a plug-in electric car in your garage, as well?
This is the deal that Energy Australia is offering, in concert with Sydney Water. They'll be interviewing successful applicants, who will ideally be a family with kids to spend 12 month live-testing an energy and water smart home in the west of Sydney. The project that has been described by the NSW state government, one of the backers, as a 'bit like "The Jetsons" meet "Big Brother.'
Photo: Energy Australia
Newington was the Sydney Olympic Athletes Village in 2000. At the time it was one of the largest solar suburbs in the world. Now energy and water utilities are looking to ramp up the technologies considerably. And see it they work in the real world of family living.
While the house may not require any fiscal outgoings by its inhabitants for rent and utilities, (estimated as a saving of around $32,000 AUD), it does require they otherwise pay for the privilege by sharing "their experiences in this house on a regular basis via media, blogs, and websites."
To this end the ideal housesitting family need to meet quite specific needs.Essential criteria for selection include: Excellent writing skills with a proven track record, and recent experience in print and/or other media coupled with an interest in and experience of residential environmental/ sustainable/energy issues.
Desirable criteria include: experience with blogs and on line content.
"And we'll probably need a family who's got a good sense of humour and plenty of patience, because not everything we test in the house we know is going to work perfectly every time."
The house package itself is said to sport rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, a 2kW BlueGen fuel cell converting natural gas into electricity, an electric car, OLED TV, state of the art lighting solutions (controlled plasma, CFL, LED). The Newington Smart Home will also be fitted with a HAN, or Home Area Network, such that lighting and household appliances can be remotely controlled by an iPhone. And there is much more besides.
The project will monitor all manner of gizmos and designs applicable to water and energy efficiency in residential buildings. But it is part of larger scheme whereby 1,000 smart meters with two-way communication and 100 HANs will be installed in select Newington properties to create state-of-the-art homes with intelligent controls, renewable energy technology and storage. This part of the program will test, what TreeHugger readers will recognise as Smart Grid designs.
But if you want be The New Jetsons you'll need to act soon. Applications close on 22 February 2009. The first selection challenge is navigating through Energy Australia's online business tendering portal to retrieve the detailed information and application form. Let's hope the rest of the project is not as convoluted as that process :-)