Home loan: some progress at last

Here’s a graph of my home loan, which I got just over nine years ago.

The loan was approved in August 2005, but only took effect in October that year (the huge leap on the left).

Home loan balance, August 2005-August 2014

In the first year or so I was able to pay it down a bit. It only took me about 8 months to get the balance down to 95% of the initial loan. With interest burning up most of the payments, it took another 5 years to get down to 90%. This of course is why the graph looks jaggy — each month we go down a bit, and up a bit.

In the past few years I haven’t concentrated on paying it down further, but I do have a healthy working balance in an offset account. That combined with the current low interest rates have meant it’s taken under 3 years to move down from 90% to 85%.

The bank reckons the current forecast term is still 20 years and 3 months (gulp).

The nature of big loans is that the balance starts to drop faster the further you are into it, but one way of ensuring that would be to lock-in a fixed interest rate. The last time I tried this was precisely the wrong time — just before the Global Financial Crisis sent rates tumbling.

Still, rates are pretty low at the moment, so now might be a good time… though you can bet whichever way I go, the bank will win.

Painting

Helping out at M+J’s house yesterday: The perils of paint rollers… splattering paint.

Painting

Makes me wonder if my own house needs painting… Being weatherboard, the outside probably needs it more than the inside.

I’m also moderately impressed at the amount of detail from the phone camera.

Electric kettles use power. LOTS of power.

I have an electric kettle. It’s pretty fast to boil water, but wow, does it burn up electricity.

Here you can see our live electricity meter thingy on the fridge. On the left, a couple of lights are on, as well as the fridge and I think a computer was on as well. On the right — the kettle is boiling as well.

Power consumption - On the right is when the kettle was turned on

Conclusion: Put just the water in the kettle that you need; don’t fill it up every time if you’re only making a cup of tea or two. It’s not just quicker, but it uses a lot less power.

Update Wednesday 9:30pm: Some information from an Origin Energy insider (they are my power provider, and supplied the meter), in reply to the post and some of the comments.

The comments on your blog are correct. Almost all electrical appliances should have a power consumption label in an inconspicuous place that will tell you the maximum power consumption. Kettles are normally around 2200W. It’s interesting to see how much energy heating and cooling systems use – even ducted gas heating and evaporative cooling which require powerful fans to propel air through the house.

Your energy monitor will continue to work if you leave Origin BUT it may not show your energy costs accurately. It will stop showing costs completely after (I think) six months, because they didn’t want out of date energy costs being shown indefinitely. Your electricity consumption in kW will continue to be displayed indefinitely.

If you do a factory reset though it will lose the connection with your smart meter and Origin will have no ability to reconnect it, as only the current electricity retailer can do this. However, if you are in the United Energy or Jemena distribution areas you can use their ‘Energy Easy’ portal to reconnect it (you should be in the UE area?) You would love the Energy Easy portal anyway as you can do all kinds of number crunching on your electricity consumption (but not see it in real time).

Standing on the inside looking out – graphing my house temperature in the heatwave

So, how did my old wooden house cope with the heat?

It’s not brilliant, but it’s also not unbearable.

I was at home most of Tuesday, and graphed the temperature rise. Inside temperature from the thermostat / Outside from the BOM Moorabbin Airport readings.

Inside vs outside temperatures in my wooden house, 14/1/2014

Unlike last time (2010), the overnight temperature had been a lot warmer, and thanks to this being just day one of a four-day heatwave, in the evening it didn’t drop off allowing the house to cool down.

The roof insulation that we have now made a little bit of a difference I think, but undoubtedly we saw the inside temperature slowly rise across the day. Better window protection is what’s really need to fight off the heat coming in, I suspect.

The additional fans we have make a real difference to comfort levels, even if they don’t seem to affect the temperature reported by the thermostat. Ceiling fans in two main rooms (plus a third in one of the bedrooms) plus portable fans help make it bearable.

Overnight Wednesday/Thursday the outside temperature dropped a bit more — down as low as 24 at midnight — allowing us to cool the house just a little from outside. As I write this, the thermostat reports 28 degrees. But to really cool the house will have to wait for the cool change on Friday afternoon.

And, in time, I’ll keep considering further house upgrades such as external blinds, window glazing, wall insulation, and the dreaded evaporative cooling and/or air-conditioning.

(By the way, if anybody had an appointment at the mobile Blood Bank in Bentleigh this week, they’ve cancelled the session due to the heat.)

Power consumption

Meanwhile, some interesting reading:

– Stuff like this makes me ponder that it’s a little unfair that some areas likely to see power cuts caused by the stress put on by those with juice-hungry air-con, but which affects everybody — whether or not they have air-con, and whether or not they are offsetting their grid usage with solar. Surely in the age of smart meters, they could limit everybody to X kilowatts off the grid?

Ceiling fan – and the forthcoming heat apocalypse

I’ve got a new ceiling fan in the kitchen. The bloke at the lighting shop said that in a kitchen, a metal fan is good because it can be easily cleaned — whereas in a bedroom, quieter wooden fans are more often used.

He also reckoned for the size of the room, the larger 52 inch blades would work well. So here it is in all its glory.

Ceiling fan in kitchen

I’m still getting used to it being there up. Sometimes I catch it out of the corner of my eye and think it looks like a gigantic spider up on the ceiling.

At full speed it certainly produces quite a breeze, and helps cool the room down a lot. Wish I’d got it done when I got the livingroom ceiling fan put in, but better late than never.

(I’m hoping the installation cost isn’t too bad… it’s been almost a fortnight since it was installed, but I still haven’t received the bill from the electrician.)

Which brings us to the weather. Here’s the forecast.

7-day weather forecast, Melbourne, 13/1/2014

I’ve previously graphed how the temperature rises in the house, but that was before I had the good insulation put in the roof (might do an update this week). The insulation means the house doesn’t heat up very quickly… so a single hot day is usually quite manageable.

The run of long days we’re expecting this week (worst since Black Saturday in 2009) will be a challenge though, as the house won’t get a good chance to cool down overnight. Having tried the ceiling fans (now in three rooms) on previous hot days, they do help, as do portable fans.

But no doubt I’ll be pondering my stubborn refusal to get air-conditioning… though there are other less energy-hungry approaches, such as outside blinds over the windows, window treatments, and wall insulation.