It was house maintenance week this week. I took a couple of days off to do some de-cluttering and get some people in.
Hard rubbish got rid of two old mattresses, three former recycle bins, a big plank of wood, an old fan and two disused old bicycles. Amusingly, between putting stuff out/booking the collection and having it picked up, one bike disappeared, then came back, then the second went.
On Tuesday I got my ducts cleaned. (Note: This is not a euphemism.)
On Wednesday it was the pest controllers, as part of my self-declared War On Cockroaches. The guy sprayed inside and out, and we evacuated for a while to let the fumes dissipate — into the city for some lunch, a walk around, and some photography.
Of course, the most exciting news this week in the ‘hood has been the opening of the new Aldi store in downtown Bentleigh (in the old IGA site). Wednesday was opening day, and it was packed with people hunting down $10 kettles and toasters, and $89 Android tablets.
I must admit I was tempted by the latter. But in the end I decided not to buy it, for three reasons:  the check-out queues were really long,  although it’s cheap, a review reckoned this model of tablet has poor Wifi reception (and in fact the reviewer ended up returning it due to poor battery life), and perhaps most importantly,  I’d just spent days de-cluttering the house, and buying something I didn’t really need would be a backward step,
And after all, there’ll be other cheap tablets. Wait a few months and there’ll be a better one for the same price.
Pondering adding to the solar hot water on my roof with PV panels for electricity generation.
My last electricity bill says I used up 659 kWh in 92 days, costing $187.61 (only including the cost for power and the 100% GreenPower surcharge; excluding the $76.41 service charge which I’d incur no matter how much power used)… that adds up to 2614 kWh in a year costing $744.32, or about 28.5 cents per kWh.
According to Origin Energy’s online quote (which I’m using as a rough measure, because I use them at the moment and they have a 2-years interest-free deal — obviously other companies may have better offers):
- a 1.5 kW system costing $2315 will generate about 1971 kWh in a year
- a 2.07 kW system costing $4315 (which includes a $250 discount because I got the solar hot water through them) will generate 2628 kWh in a year
- a 2.76 kW system costing $5815 (ditto on the $250 discount) will generate 3626 kWh in a year
Leaving aside feed-in tariffs, and assuming for a moment that every kWh generated I actually use (which wouldn’t be the case), theoretically the 1.5 system would save me $562 per year, taking about 4 years to pay off.
The 2.07 system would pretty much save me the full cost of power every year, but take almost 6 years to pay off.
The 2.76 system would give me an excess of about 1000 kWh of power each year. The feed-in tariff is only 8 cents per kWh these days, so I’d be saving $744 plus another $80 or so, so it’d take about 7 years to pay off.
Some factors to consider:
If I cave and get some kind of cooling system, then my energy consumption will of course go up.
From what I understand, PV panels are dropping in price pretty fast. The longer I wait, the cheaper they’ll be (which is why I’m a little cynical about the ads you see on the telly implying if you don’t get in and order quickly, you’ll end up paying more).
Meanwhile, electricity prices are expected to rise only moderately in the next few years.
The bigger the system, once paid off, the greater potential in future years to make more money back from the feed-in tariff.
But I also need to check how much space I actually have left on the north and northwest-facing sides of my roof, given the solar water panel already up there.
And of course, once I jump in and switch to solar, I’ll be markedly reducing my personal emissions, which will be good!
Thank goodness that scientists aren’t warning of any kind of permanent warming of the climate that might prove, y’know, dangerous — otherwise a record-breaking run of hot days might be a tad alarming.
One shouldn’t jump to conclusions of course. As Jon Stewart quipped:
“Global warming is a total hoax. And I’ll tell you how I know. Because it’s cold, today, where I live. That’s jus’ science.”
…and the opposite applies.
I don’t know if this record run of hot days is some freak weather event caused by something else, or a demonstration of how climate change manifests itself. But at the very least this record being broken should be a warning of what’s likely to keep happening into the future as temperatures rise.
We upgraded the kids’ beds to King Single… because they’re both getting big.
Unfortunately the place I bought the excellent old bunk beds years ago (“Chunky Pine Bunks”) seems to have closed down… a real shame because all I wanted was fairly plain, but really sturdy beds.
I hunted around and eventually found these:
Good price, looked sturdy. I went in and checked them out in person, and they looked okay, so ordered them.
When they arrived, I noted that unlike the advertisement above which implies they are made in NZ, they are actually made in China.
I’ve got no problem with the quality of them; so far they’ve been fine. And frankly, the price was right.
But I’m not sure how I feel about the advertising implying they’re made in NZ, when they’re not.
Of course it’s possible that the wood originates in NZ but is shipped to China for construction. Or perhaps it’s some type of wood that is known as New Zealand Pine?
Oh well. Just one of those things I suppose.
I guess the message here is that if the country of origin is important, be sure to ask — don’t trust the advertising, especially if it’s a bit vague.
I was chatting to a work colleague about birthdays, the amazing fact that we’re now well into the 21st century, and what happened to the promise of robots who would do the housework?
Of course, we have dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers… and then she said she has one of those robot vaccuum cleaners. Apparently it works wonders in a flat with floorboards and cats that leave hair everywhere.
It gets switched-on when leaving for work. It roams around the house (I guess the cats are used to it) and then returns itself to its charging station.
Apparently it handles rugs okay, and given I have floorboards (but no cats), I’m wondering if it might be a good Christmas present to myself.
Previously I’ve been wary of these things as being an expensive gimmick. But I wonder if the technology is sufficiently advanced now that they are reliable and effective enough to provide some genuine benefits for the cost.
Anybody else have one? What do you think of it? Are they as good as the reviewers on the HN web site claim?
(No, I don’t think this is a big part of the future of urban transport.)
Disaster! No internet at home.
Yesterday iiNet/Netspace had major outage in Victoria. It was eventually fixed, but even after a modem reboot we couldn’t get back online.
Then I noticed the home phone (yes, I still have one of those) was getting no dial tone. My assumption initially was that this was just an unhappy coincidence; I’m unclear as to how a widespread ISP outage would somehow affect a home phone line.
So I rang Telstra, whose call centre person (offshore, I’m assuming, given how scrupulously polite she was) ran through some basic checks before declaring a tech will need to look at the lines on the street.
That will apparently take until Wednesday or Thursday. Sigh.
Netspace support was closed last night by the time I got around to looking at things, but I’ll try and reach them this morning to see if anything can be done from their end.
Until then, apart from limited mobile use, I guess we’re cutoff from the outside world.
Update lunchtime: Got hold of iiNet support; they can’t see a problem that would affect the phone line, but asked me to check the sync light on the modem. Since I’m not at home, they suggested they could ring me back tonight (at 8:39pm to be precise) to go through it with me. Cool.
Update 6pm: Text message from Telstra a couple of hours ago to say all is resolved, and it appears to be so. Woo hoo!
A cheap and cheerful hedgetrimmer, $50 at Bunnings.
To be used for occasional trimming of hedges (well duh) in between visits from Andy, my trusty gardener… specifically around the back of the house, where sometimes the hedges grow so fast it feels like the open space in the garden is getting a little smaller everyday.
No, I don’t plan to go all Edward Scissorhands and do any topiary… though having looked at some of the examples on the Wikipedia entry for it, I reckon it’d be pretty funny to develop one that was, say, Dalek-shaped.