Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Power Issues

Our last electricity bill was $800 - what a shock! Admittedly, it was for 3 months of power over the winter months, during which we used an electric fan heater almost continuously to warm us. It was a timely reminder of how we are going to have change our ways over the coming months.

Today Laurie Port (from Residential Solar Supplies) came for our final check-up of our new Grid-Connect Solar System, and to explain the intricacies of reading the LCD screens which have information on what power we have created and imported. He believes we will have the capacity to create about 5-6 kWh of power per day during summer.

The new meter boxes which will provide data on our energy usage

I've worked out (based on last years spring/summer bill) that in order to be grid neutral we need to reduce our electricity consumption by 95%. I often joke with people about how glad I am that we have set a realistic goal!

To make this even remotely possible we have installed solar hot water (should reduce consumption by at least 25% I think), installed a wood heater (we will plant trees to replace the wood we burn), and are slowly but surely learning to switch things off at the plug.

My hope is that we will be able to run the fridge, freezer, water pump and the phone from our solar system. Other things will have to be rationed - lights (why, oh, why, did we get all those downlights installed?), TV (we have whopper of a television - it will be saved for Friday Night Movie Parties), computer time and so on.

The clothes dryer will head out to the shed to reduce the temptation to use it, and the kettle may have to be retired.

Our new space age roof set-up

The cost of purchasing the solar technology has not been cheap - about $7500, after government rebates, for solar hot water and the solar electricity grid connect, but I am confident it will be worth it in the long term - it's already changing the way I think about power usage - it has somehow become more precious now that it is sourced from up there on our own roof.

It will be interesting over summer to see if we can break the old habit of worrying about lack of rain - instead seeing sun-shiny days as perfect for charging up the power system!

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