Sunday, April 30, 2006
May to September
Tomorrow is May 1st, or the ancient Pagan Festival of Beltane, which in my book is the day I officially try to turn off the central heating.
We now have 5 months of relatively warm weather to look forward to, before we have to prepare again for the colder weather.
It is difficult to think about the cold nights, when you are cutting the lawn, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but now is the time to start planning your renewable energy systems.
Solar Water Heating:
Now available as a low cost kit from Navitron in Wales ( www.navitron.org ) Expect to pay about £400 for the 20 tube panel, £70 to £130 for a controller, £35 for a pump and if you need it, £300 for a large 200 litre, twin coil storage tank. These systems are soon to be featured on BBC2's "It's Not Easy Being Green" shown on Tuesday nights at 8:30pm.
Wood Fired Central Heating.
Some very economical Stoves are now appearing as imports from China, and fitted with backboilers. Don't wait until October before you think about it, ask for a quote now, and most installers will be glad to do you an out of season special. Try Sussex Woodstoves in Horsham.
A stove might cost you between £400 and £800, but remember that you need a flue liner (about £80 per metre) and these days John Prescott's office is more or less insistent on a professional installation, which could be up to £1000 on top, and a 68 page guidline on how to install - I do wish he'd keep his fat fishy fingers out of everyone else's business. So budget about £2000 for a top job, then recoup this back over the next 5 to 10 years with very much reduced gas bills.
Low Energy Light Bulbs.
I have finally made ammends, and replaced the double dimmer switch in the living room with a simple dual gang switch. I can now go and fit low energy bulbs into the main ceiling lamp and the wall lights. The ceiling light is normally on for 6 to 8 hours per day so we now are going to save about 0.5kWh per day on our lighting bill. All the main supermarkets have low energy bulbs on special offer. They start saving after just 300 hours of usage.
Little Stack of Horrors.
Yes I am referring to my TV and VCR stack that has been drawing 20W in idle for the last 5 years! I finally identified the chief culprit - a Freeview box made by Thomson. This box can be switched from active mode - a green LED, to standby mode - a red LED, yet it makes no difference to the 8W power consumption! What on Earth were our Gallic chums thinking of when they designed that feature?? The box is now switched off when not in use.
So with a few simple measures I can now save a whole kWh per day in the living room, with no loss of comfort or convenience, and this extra kWh can be used to justify running our "one luxury item" the Bosch dishwasher!
Picture courtesy of "The Wicker Man" a cult spooky film with weird May Day happenings on a remote Scottish Isle.