The occasional visitor to these pages may recall that last year, we installed a solar hot water system in our house in Cirencester. It’s worked brilliantly, meaning we didn’t need to use any gas at all through the summer and well into the autumn – admittedly helped by switching the Aga off as well (a beast rightly condemned by George Monbiot in the Guardian last year.)
OK, keeping the Aga (aka Betty) installed at all undoes most of the good we’re trying to do in getting our energy usage down – though in a couple of weeks, we are having an (expensive) intelligent management system fitted – and I don’t just mean Sue – which will allow us to turn Betty down during the day and especially overnight.
Well, now we’ve gone almost the whole hog, short of having a heat pump put in under the garden, and have kitted the roof out with some £12,000 worth of photovoltaic solar panels – as in the picture above. (The link will take you to the folk who installed it for us.)
With the British government’s new so-called Feed-In tariff starting up in April, the panels should pay for themselves, we calculate, within about seven or eight years, and should considerably balance off the electricity we pull in from the grid.
What’s also rather good about the timing is that we’ve also qualified for a government installation grant of about £2000, under a scheme which stops at the end of next month with the introduction of the new payments system.
Best of both worlds, though do I think panels like this will save the planet? Or rather, save us human beings? No. But they do make us feel personally rather better about our carbon footprint, and at least we’re trying.