A house built on smart ideas with earning power

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A house built on smart ideas

By WINNIE YEOH winnie@thestar.com.my Photos by WAN MOHIZAN WAN HUSSEIN

WITH cool breeze blowing into his house which is also basking in ample natural light, retiree Tan Vait Leong does not need to switch on the lights or air conditioner during the day.

Even at noon, the 56-year-old’s bungalow at Puncak Bukit Mutiara in Pearl Hill is still cool, thanks to the environmentally-friendly and open concept design of the house.

“The planning of the design of the house started five years ago, while construction of the property took three years to complete.

“I would draw up the designs and concepts for the house while I was at airports or in planes, as I travelled frequently for work.

“I enjoyed the process, as it was also an outlet for me to destress,” said the former vice-president of a multinational company.

Having spent a substantial amount of time travelling, the father-of-four said it was only right that he designed his house ala-resort style so he would not “need to go for holidays anymore”.

One of the special features of the house is the photovoltaic (PV) solar panel fixed on the roof, which Tan had obtained through the National Suria 1000 programme to generate power from solar energy.

With that, his household is automatically enlisted under the newly launched feed-in-tariff (FiT) programme where Tenaga Nasional Bhd will buy back power generated from the PV solar panel.

Currently, the PV electricity subsidised about 20% of the household’s total electricity intake while Tan pays about RM700 monthly for his power bill.

“With the FiT, I might not have to fork out a single sen for my electricity bill,” he said yesterday.

A tour around the handsome house with a built-up area of 8,000sq ft shows there are five spacious rooms, four bathrooms, an infinity pool with a view overlooking the sea which is also connected to the living room and master bedroom, an indoor fish pond, a kitchen, a family room, a study room, a living room, an outdoor deck as well as a cosy playroom for Tan’s 10-year-old twin daughters.

Aptly named after Tan’s wife, Foo Sin Gein, 54, he said his home Gein Villa was constructed to blend into existing green environment where the big trees around are spared from the axe.

“I don’t spend money on landscaping. The trees shed leaves seasonally but it is part of the feature of the house. I don’t understand the reasons behind cutting down trees if people want to build houses on the hillside.

“Well there are occasions where our ‘special guests’ — monkeys, squirrels and bats will pay a visit but we don’t harm them as they are not aggressive, just playful,” he said.

There are no excessive furniture in the house, with only the walnut and cherry flooring along with salvaged chengal wood which Tan used to lay the staircase and kitchen tabletop.

“I also use the hollow bricks that were left over from the construction as display shelves,” he said.

“We water the plants with water from the fish pond, and we keep plants at the pool and the filter tub to absorb the nitrate.”

Retiree who still has earning power

By WINNIE YEOH winnie@thestar.com.my

GEORGE TOWN: While most people have to pay for their electricity, a 56-year-old retiree is looking forward to selling it to Tenaga Nasional Bhd.

And Tan Vait Leong (pic) simply can’t wait to be paid by the utility giant for the power generated from his photovoltaic (PV) solar panels fixed on the roof of his Tanjung Bungah home.

Believed to be among the first consumers in Penang to obtain the PV under the National Suria 1000 programme to generate power from solar energy, his household is automatically enlisted under the newly launched feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme.

“This is a blessing in disguise. I have always been conscious about the environment and had incorporated recycling and green ideas into my daily life.

“With this, I might not have to fork out a single sen for my electricity bill,” he said excitedly at his double-storey bungalow at Puncak Bukit Mutiara in Pearl Hill.

The former mechanical engineer said the PV electrivity subsidised about 20% of electricity usage for his sprawling premises with a built-up area of 8,000sq ft (743.22sq m).

Currently, the father-of-four forks out about RM700 monthly for his power bill.

Tan also maintains an open concept for his five-room bungalow where good air circulation keeps the environment cool while ample natural light through glass panels brighten up the interior.

“The swimming pool is part of the house while the indoor fish pond keeps the home cool and is low maintenance too.

“I don’t need to switch on the lights or air-conditioners at all during the day while I do keep several floor fans on,” he added.

Launched last week, the FiT allows individuals or non-individuals to sell electricity generated from renewable energy sources back to power utility firms at a fixed premium price for a specific duration.

The four renewal energy sources that are eligible for FiT are biogas, biomass, small hydropower and solar photovoltaic.

Currently, the rate Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) pays to renewable power producers is 21 sen per kWh. Concurrently, the average domestic rate that consumers pay to TNB is 27.6 sen per kWh.

With FiT, consumers can install their own solar modules at home and earn a secondary income.

Under the Renewable Energy Act 2011, consumers who installed capacity up to and including 4 kWp (kilowatt peak) would be paid a FiT of RM1.23 per kWh.

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