Monday, 9 November 2015

Let there be...electrickery!

Not only has Maison Squidge been plastered recently - last week, it acquired solar PV panels.

We are producing our own electrickery! It sounds really grand, but of course we only produce during daylight hours (wonder whether bright moonlight will work too?). In a dull grey and somewhat rainy November so far, you wouldn't think the panels would be working - but they are! We've got twelve panels - eight on the garage and four on the roof, because since having the loft extension a few years ago, our roof space is somewhat limited by dormers.

When they were connected, I admit, I sat in the cupboard under the stairs with a torch, waiting to see the meter go backwards as all that lovely power zoomed back into the grid. However, we've since discovered that our meter has a back stop, so it won't go just doesn't go forwards as quickly when the sun's shining and we plug the kettle in, if that makes sense?

Mr Squidge spent quite a long time trying to explain how the new meter in the garage shows what we're producing, but neither it or the normal leccy meter can show how much we are exporting; apparently, that's done by guesswork for the feed-in tariff payment. It's assumed you use 50% of what you generate, but of course you could be exporting a lot more than 50% if you don't use much electricity. (And we don't, in spite of being at home most of the time. I'm a natural light, turn off the lights kind of girl!) You can get smart meters, which tell you the separate import/export figures, but they are expensive to fit and can be confusing to read. And frankly, I'm not sure it's worth it.

I know a lot of folk have had solar panels fitted to take advantage of the feed-in tariff (which is due to be phased out at the end of this year) - but for me, that misses the point rather. We've got solar panels because it's a Good Thing. It relieves the pressure, just a little, on the Earth's precious coal and oil reserves. And, like Bob our wind turbine, makes us feel that we're giving something back to the world rather than simply taking all the time. Mind you, to really take full advantage of the panels, we need batteries to store up what power we generate in the daytime for use at night. Those, as yet, I don't think are available for domestic use.

Meanwhile, Mr Squidge and the Squidgelings might have to wait for clean undies 'til the sun comes out and I can put the washing machine on, guilt-free, in the daytime...

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