Thursday, 19 January 2012

Solar part deux

Steve came round today for the survey part of the process of Solar Panel installation.

We'd agreed I'd be flexible.  Steve was travelling from the other side of London and I was going to be at home most of the afternoon.  Our "meeting" was for sometime in the afternoon.  In conversations with the Carmichael Brown office we had a guess that it might be about 2:30 ish.

Steve finally made it round the inglorious M25 and to my door by about 4:40, just as I was thinking we needed to leave to get the kiddiwinks to their swimming lessons. I said hello to Steve, unlocked the garage and then abandoned him to the garage and the house.

You might think this is strange as I don't really know Steve, but I trust him because my friend Sindy wouldn't marry a bad'un.

Having dumped the children in the changing room I legged it back home to make Steve a coffee and answer questions.

I need room for a generation box and a meter.  I'm probably using the wrong terminology but I need something that shows what's being generated at any point in time and a meter that tells the Feed in Tariff pot holders what to pay me.

Steve said that it is possible to link the generation box to a Bluetooth system which allows generation to be shown in the house.  This is perhaps more of a consideration for us because our system will be based in our garage which isn't attached to our house.

The other exciting thing is that we might be able to link a system with our Wattson which will show how much electricity we are using or how much we are feeding into the grid.  Steve went away to explore that a little further.

It turns out the judges that were looking at the Government's Appeal regarding the Feed in Tariff reduction couldn't make a decision and so have given themselves some more time to make a decision.

So just over an hour later and Steve was done and on his way.  He'd measured the roof, looked at the electricity supply, realised we didn't have an earth in the garage (oops) and explained the Bluetooth Wattson solution choices.

I then dashed over to the swimming pool to collect two children who were exhausted and hungry, not unlike myself.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Horns of a dilemma

I am a lucky person but maybe that's because I "always look on the bright side of life."

Yesterday I spent most of the day in a Planning Appeal Hearing.  I was supporting the Council, and on the opposite side of the table were our neighbours.

We, "the residents", did a good job of making our case.  There were a lot of us in the room and we presented our points effectively.

I don't know whether the Planning Inspector will uphold the appeal or not.  He seemed to be a very fair and reasonable gentleman and I have complete faith in his abilities.  He had clearly done his homework, as we had, prior to the meeting and this was very reassuring.

You might think that I might resent my neighbours for putting us through the stresses and strains associated with the Planning and Appeal process, but I don't.

Ken and Jane are trying to improve their circumstances, and I don't know that many people that would say no to an opportunity to make a quick profit.  What they don't realise is that, regardless of how the Planning Inspector concludes this case, they have done me a favour.

How many of us know our neighbours?  We might say hello.  We might nod acknowledgment when we pass our neighbours in the street.  We might even pop round to collect a package left by a courier company in our absence.  But that isn't really knowing them.

Because of this planning application I have knocked on doors and met people.  I've had proper conversations with the people in my neighbourhood.  I've invited local people into my home for tea, coffee, wine, beer and cake (always cake).  I've got e-mail addresses and phone numbers.  I don't just say hello to these people anymore.  We stop and chat when we bump into one another.  And you know what - they're the best people.

I've had an amazing amount of support from this wonderful group of people and I like living here even more than before.  I have Ken and Jane to thank for this.

I hope the Appeal is refused, but Dave and I need to think about what to do if it is allowed.  Previously we had said we would move.  In fact we had planned a big extension to our house but have scaled back our plans to something far more modest.  Our current plan is to fix the house and mend the things that need mending, decorate the things that need decorating.

If the Appeal is allowed we will then have a house that is ready for sale (in a few years time after the build is completed because nobody wants to move in to a house that is next to an existing or potential building site).  If the Appeal is refused we will have a house that is mended and decorated and a pleasant place to live.

The dilemma is that if the Appeal is allowed and we plan to move, we will be moving away from lovely people.  Maybe that would be enough of a reason to stay put.

Friday, 13 January 2012

A little gem

Today I needed to get a document printed.  46 pages of A4 in colour.

I went to Hussey Knights which is a well-established company in Shenfield.  They told me they were busy and I'd have to wait an hour and a half and then quoted £58.  I fell over and had to be resuscitated. Not quite, but that's expensive.  I walked out without any prints.

I remembered someone recommending Brentwood Community Print in Warley so I hopped in the car.  They could do the job while I waited and would charge £13.80.  I asked for two copies.

Brentwood Community print is a fantastic organisation that helps people who are recovering from mental illness to integrate back into the community.  They are helpful, friendly and cheap.  I can't recommend them enough.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

We're taking the plunge

I've wanted to install a Solar PV (photovoltaic) system for a while and I mean years.

Things that have held me back include: husband's reluctance, not knowing which company would be a good company, not understanding how it all works and generally being busy and not having time to find out more.

The thing that changed all of this was a conversation with a friend and the discovery that her husband and son are in the Solar PV business.  I've known this friend for a long time and, whilst she's as mad as a badger, she's also someone I admire immensely.  She has endless energy and the biggest heart which feeds her generous spirit.  Any husband and son of hers would be excellent people to do business with.  They would be trustworthy, reliable and do a good quality job.  They wouldn't be able to help themselves; it would be genetic.

Sindy's son Seb came round one day to explain the systems to us.  He was knowledgable, affable and patient.  He sat with a foot in plaster talking to me while I was wearing a Santa hat and he didn't bat an eyelid.  He went away with the task of preparing a quote and we stayed at home convinced it made sense.

I could try and explain the feed-in-tariff, the energy bill savings and the export tariff to you but you should really talk to Seb.  I will tell you that in April the feed-in-tariff is likely to reduce and acting sooner rather than later is a good idea.  There will be a decision this Friday that could restore feed-in-tariffs back to their pre-December values for the short period between now and December so if you are interested you should move now.

My lethargy seems to have paid off.  Solar PV is much cheaper to install now than it was a few years ago and if we're lucky we'll get the high feed in tariff too.

Seb came back today with a quote and a pen and I signed on the dotted line.  We're getting 10 x 327W Sunpower PV solar panels fitted to our garage roof.  Apparently these have an estimated peak rating of 3.27kwh/peak.

I actually quite excited.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Company contact details if you're interested too:



Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Santa has a plan

Hannah is a very considerate and thoughtful child.  She's always been quite impressed by Father Christmas' abilities and she's spent some considerable time contemplating how it is he does what he does so well.

I know every family has a slightly different Santa experience.  This experience is often a combination of inherited traditions which are combined or which morph into something new.

In our house Father Christmas is treated to a mince pie and a tipple.  The tipple varies but I'm pretty sure he's had beer, sherry, port and wine at different times.  Rudolph always gets carrot which this year was chopped up at  upon request (apparently the other reindeer were losing out to greedy Rudolph.)

Stockings hang from the mantlepiece and are filled sometime between bedtime and wake time.

Santa also provides one present per child, generally one that has been requested via letter. This request has to be reasonable because Santa doesn't look upon greediness favourably.  This one present is generally left near the hearth.

Other presents from friends and family are collected under the tree (if our house) or another corner of the sitting room (if we're at Grandma and Grandpa's house).

Hannah has been considering the stocking bit and she has a theory.

She thinks that Santa buys maybe 100 different stocking presents and these will not all be suitable for all children.  Some will be better for older girls and some will be better for younger boys but there will be some that are universally appropriate.

What then happens is some sorting so that each child has a number of age appropriate stocking presents allocated for delivery.

The rest is history, or something.