Low Bills Living - saving your wallet, and the planet

micahel and chook 3.jpg
micahel and chook 3.jpg

Low Bills Living - saving your wallet, and the planet


Learn how to create a low-bills lifestyle with this four day course over four weeks with Michael Mobbs at his off-grid home in Chippendale, Sydney.

Since 1996 - for 21 years - in a four person household, we've had energy and water bills less than $300 a year.  With this course, you can, too.  All appliances are ordinary and any tradesperson can install or maintain them.

By the end of this course you will have for a renovation, existing or new house:  a draft budget, draft water and energy designs, key contract clauses, key contacts, and more.  With a maximum of 9 in the course you'll see how your fellow householders have chosen their designs and swapped stories, costs and ideas. You'll already have started low bills living at your place. 

Couples note:  $900 + GST for first person, $450 for the second person arranged by email.

My financial goal for you: I’m aiming to get each person doing the course a saving in their bills in the first three months which is at least equal to, and preferably, much more, than the course fee.

No refunds are available once 5 people have booked so please consider your involvement in this course carefully.

NOTE:  Deadline for enrolling is:  Monday 4 June 2018.  Minimum of 5 students for course to proceed.

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The Low-bills Living Course

The kitchen in Sydney's Sustainable House

The kitchen in Sydney's Sustainable House

NOTE:  Deadline for enrolling is:  Monday 4 June 2018.  Minimum of 4 students for course to proceed.

I’m Michael Mobbs, the Off-grid Guy.

Since 1996 my four-person household has had energy and water bills less than $300 a year.  

Even when my two children were 6 and 10 years old, when the clothes washing machine went every other day, the bills here were less than $300 a year.

This course is offered by me to anyone who wants to live with low bills.

You need no special skills or qualifications.  The appliances, materials and designs are ordinary. Local trades can install and maintain them.

A low bills house is easy to build and to live in.  You can expect energy and water bills less than $1000 for a four-person household.

We can go low bills in steps.

Rule of thumb:  if you spend about $20,000 you will save $2000 to $4,000 a year in energy and water bills; spend about $10,000 and your savings will be about $1,000 to $2,000 a year.

We’ll choose options you prefer to start getting low household energy and water bills.

We’ll identify the details and options for your project.  I’ll share the must-do's, the options, the mistakes, and cost saving examples.

Laura Ryan says:

"I recently attended Michael's 4 day course. I'm about to start renovating a house in Newtown. This will be my second renovation and I wanted to make sure I don’t repeat the mistakes from the last renovation. Michael’s course provides invaluable project management guidance with everything from guidance on negotiating a building contract, selecting the right materials to “bill proof” your house, how to select the appropriate battery and solar panel combination and how to engage builders/architects/suppliers to make sure you get the right outcome. The added bonus is that I also learned the most cost effective ways to simultaneously reduce my carbon footprint and reduce my bills!"

Donna Russo says:

"Michael Mobbs has invaluable knowledge on all things sustainable.

A practical man, he shares from experience adding great insight from a lawyer's mind. A must experience, if you are considering sustainable change and want guidance, knowledge and great food and company."

      Fiona Little says:

"I signed on for Michael's course because I wanted to reduce my environmental impact in daily living and and an upcoming renovation. Over the 2 weekends of the course we covered the an extraordinary range of material and were able to see and feel what could be achieved in low bills and sustainable living. Michael's course helped me bridge the gap between my environmental "wish list" and the nuts and bolts of putting it into place.
Great course Michael, thanks"

Time Required

In four days over three weeks you’ll see, smell, practice, learn-by-doing and working in a small, focussed group.

There’s a maximum of nine people plus me, with some experienced visiting guest teachers - a builder, plumber, solar installer, story-teller, and food providore.

By spreading the four course days out the course gives you time to think about the information, to develop questions and ideas. 

By the end of the course you will:

  • be data-rich, confident and focussed about your project;
  • have created a draft budget, draft design;
  • have a list of appliances, products and materials (insulation, timber, steel, masonry) of what you need and will work for your project;
  • decide where you wish to begin – you’ll probably have begun already;
  • have a list of tradespeople and other contacts;
  • decided if you will seek price reductions by buying with others, for example, whether you will buy a solar system designed for your house but reduced in price because you will buy in a small group from the one installer;
  • located farmers who can supply you with healthy, nutritious food;
  • begun to turn your waste food into soil by composting;
  • have had four days of intense interaction with a maximum of eight other course participants, myself and guest teachers, plus our contacts and tips
  •  received special inclusions with a total value of $200:
    •  A copy of each of my two books:
    • A night at Sydney’s Sustainable House at a mutually convenient date may be available on request so you can experience the water, energy, recycled water and food systems (value - $110)
  • Morning tea and lunch included
  • Created draft water, recycled water, materials, energy and food design options for your house;
  • Enjoyed a truly unique opportunity to develop your ideas, and to compare and to discuss your choices and needs with those sharing your course.

Course venue and outline

Four day course; conducted in Sydney’s Sustainable House, Chippendale, Sydney - experience an off-grid house:

  • Building and design concepts, approvals, costs
  • Contract options, draft conditions of approval
  • How to make a budget
  • How to survive red tape *
  • Design options for water, recycled water, grey water, materials, cool/warm house, healthy house, recycled materials, insulation options
  • Potential to reduce prices, and to share tradespeople contacts
  • Potential to buy in bulk by buying with your fellow course members or friends; for example, by buying solar systems (tailor-made to your project) with other course members or friends

Who is this course for?

This course is for you if you are interested in:

  • Low household energy and water bills
  • Deciding where to start your project for having low energy and water bills year after year
  • Going off-grid, partly off-grid, or simply having low energy and water bills
  • Learning with others so you, too, can show your friends and others how to use what fall for free from the sky – the rain, the sun’s light and heat, and the wind that blows
  • Developing contacts with builders, plumbers, solar installers
  • Renovation, new build or for existing homes
  • Couples note:  $990 for first person paid via this site, $450 for the second person arranged and paid by email and internet.

Preparation, fact sheets and course materials

Upon enrolment and payment:

  • Initial course materials are provided by email to enable you to begin preparing for the course
  • You provide me basic information I need to help you prepare your budget during the course and to begin developing concepts for low bills living; for example, property location, your budget so far, list of priorities so far, bills showing how much energy and water you use
  • Materials are supplemented during the course with further notes, fact sheets
  • At the first day you receive a copy of Sustainable House and Sustainable Food

Off-grid scholarship offered for two people living outside Sydney

I may offer two scholarships for two people living at least 100 kilometres outside Sydney to do the July 2017 course by distance for no fees and by using Skype from your home to join lessons being delivered in my house.  To obtain a scholarship email me your story and explain what you wish to achieve by doing the course, and how you would participate.

Both course members and scholarship holders will be welcome to contact me during and after the course for no additional fee.

Next Course

The next course will be over these four dates on two weekends:

  • 23, 24 June 2018
  • 30 June, 1 July 2018

NOTE:  Deadline for enrolling is:  Monday 4 June 2018.  Minimum of 4 students for course to proceed.