Wall insulation

Improving my house’s heating and cooling and energy efficiency is an ongoing project.

This week it was wall insulation.

Obviously this is best fitted when the house is built, but in a house built circa 1930, the only way is to retrofit it.

They do this by drilling small holes in the walls all the way around the house, then spraying in filler stuff into the wall cavity.

Insulation installation

They’ve filled the holes, but they’ll need sanding and painting, which leaves me somewhat regretting I didn’t do this before I got the house painted in 2015. Not to worry, but for now the house looks like it has measles.

Last year’s winter gas bill (covering 15th June to 15th August) was a whopper, at $489 ($7.87 / 354 MJ of gas per day) – similar to 2016. (In 2017 we were away on holiday for some of winter.)

I’m hoping that by getting the new insulation in time for winter, the gas bill for winter this year can be reduced quite a bit – hopefully daytime warmth can be better retained into the evening and overnight.

It might be a while before the investment (not insubstantial) pays off, but already there’s a noticeable difference, which is good.

Future options around the house include:

  • double-glazing on the windows
  • under-floor insulation
  • PV panels for the roof
  • replacing gas cooking with electric
  • replacing gas central heating with more reverse cycle units
  • and one I learnt about recently which seems like an easy no-brainer: a balloon in the fireplace.

Old photos from April 2009

Another in my series of old ten year old photos.

This turned out to be a bit of a bumper crop – a few months before I’d got the Nokia N95 phone, my first with a decent camera, so perhaps no surprise the number of photos was increasing.

Melbourne’s first wind-powered tram had launched in 2008. Note the “Gone With The Wind” reference, and the pre-platform “safety zone” Elizabeth Street (at Bourke Street) tram stop.

Elizabeth Street tram, April 2009

Bentleigh – directional signage for bus drivers. This one for rail replacement buses inbound into the City.

Connex bus sign, April 2009

A trip down to Geelong one Saturday…

Geelong station, April 2009

…to visit the special Myki Shop in Ryrie Street, so I could try it for the first time.

Myki shop in Geelong, April 2009

I got to try out a Myki card, which you can read about here. I also came home with these amusing Myki wristbands, I guess to get The Kids on-side with the concept. Note the “scan on, scan off” messaging which later became “touch on, touch off” when they realised just how slow the first generation readers are.

Myki wrist bands, April 2009

Spotted in Footscray: a special bus stop for Regional Fast Rail project rail replacement coaches. RFR had finished about five years earlier.

V/Line bus stop sign at Footscray, April 2009

An excursion to the in-laws farm. Like many farm practices, burning off a field was a bit of an eye-opener for this city boy.

Burning off at the farm, April 2009

Federation Square. Note the pre-renovation mustard colour of Flinders Street Station.

Federation Square, April 2009

Flinders Street from another angle, showing the red Tourist Shuttle (not a shuttle) bus that was funded by the inner-city parking levy. When the bus was free, it could be quite crowded, but was virtually unused once they introduced a $5 fare.

Tourist shuttle bus, Flinders Street, April 2009

The Parkiteer cage at Brighton Beach Station was getting plenty of use, as was the fence outside. Prior to 2015, a lot of people from further out would use zone boundary stations like Brighton Beach to avoid paying a Zone 1+2 fare which was about 55% higher than just Zone 1.

Parkiteer bike cage, Brighton Beach, April 2009

The old Bentleigh station in the autumn fog.

Bentleigh station, April 2009

Also at Bentleigh station, where walkway crowding was becoming an issue, authorities made an effort to discourage bike parking.

Bentleigh station - don't park your bike here

Connex introduced its trial layout Comeng train, with a mini-launch for stakeholders one lunchtime. It had fewer seats; similar to later changes made across the fleet by Metro in 2015-16.

2009 Connex demonstration train layout
2009 Connex demonstration train layout

I got Connex’s Lanie Harris to introduce the new layout.

The students are revolting! I don’t recall how big this protest was.

2009 fare protest poster

One of the contenders for the prize of most confusing bus route was the 627. It has since been split into two separate routes, and is much easier to understand. This was one of few recommendations of the 2010 bus reviews that actually got implemented.

The old route 627 - confusing

Finally, this moron in Bourke Street.

Moron in Bourke Street
New car

The monetary cost of driving

One of the issues that contributes to excessive car use is that it’s not straightforward to calculate the cost of driving.

Once you have the car, the cost of each additional trip you take in it is obscured. Apart from tolls and fuel costs, many might see an already-paid-for car sitting in the driveway as “free”, making it an easy option. This is why good alternatives are not based around park and ride, but instead aiming to replace the entire trip, enabling households to own fewer cars.

I thought I’d have a go at calculating the total cost per kilometre of my car.

Obviously there are a lot of variables, so each person’s result will be a bit different.

Depreciation: The Lancer I bought last year cost me $18,000 new. If I assume it’ll be near-worthless by the time it gets 200,000 kms on the clock (I’m not actually likely to drive it that much while I have it, but later owners might), then that’s depreciation of 11.1 cents per kilometre.

Some of the other costs are annual fees, so the cost per kilometre will vary according to how much I drive. The Australian average is 15,000. We’re well below that in my family, though it’s increasing a bit since one son got his P-plates last month. I’m going to use 8,000 km as an estimate.

Insurance: $708.20. (It’s definitely gone up since having a P-plater behind the wheel!) That’s 8.9 cents per kilometre.

Southland Station - shopping centre car park

Registration: having just bought the car, it was paid for the first year, but ongoing annual cost is $816.50. That works out to 10.2 cents per kilometre.

Servicing: This will vary a lot, and will get more expensive as the vehicle gets older. But for now, because I bought a brand new car, this is capped at $230 for each of the first three years = 2.9 cents per kilometre.

Petrol: The car’s got an information display which can tell you various things. One is how many litres per 100 kilometres it’s burning. From my observation this usually varies between 6 and 10, depending on whether we’re driving on country freeways with little traffic, or start-stopping along a busy city road. (On the bright side it never gets driven in commuter peaks.) The official government number for a 2017 Lancer is 7.4, but let’s be a little pessimistic and use 8.

How much does petrol cost? The Australian Institute of Petroleum reckons in Victoria the average price in 2017-18 was 135.2 cents per litre, which seems roughly right, though I wonder if it’s creeping up.

So every 100 kilometres we’re using $10.816 of fuel, or 10.8 cents per kilometre.

Thankfully this is not my car

What about tolls? We only use tollroads occasionally, perhaps about $50 per year, so I think I’ll exclude this for now.

So the cost for me is: Depreciation 11.1 + insurance 8.9 + rego 10.2 + servicing 2.9 + petrol 10.8 = 43.9 cents per kilometre.

(Contrast: public transport within Melbourne is generally $4.40 for any individual trip of up to 2+ hours, with a cap of $8.80 per day, but it gets a lot cheaper if you buy a Pass and use it regularly.)

Obviously there are a lot of costs that motorists don’t pay for directly. Driving is very heavily subsidised.

But having a number, even if it’s only an estimate, means I can quantify how much it’s costing each time we use the car.

Did I miss anything, or mess it up? What’s the cost in your household? Leave a comment!

Old photos from December 2008

My regular post of ten year old photos

The smiley in the sky (first posted here)
Smiley in the sky

Tram of the beast (First posted here)
Tram of the Beast

The next station is Connex
The next station is Connex

Back when the trams were battleship grey, and they used obscure route numbers like 47.
Tram in Collins Street, December 2008

In December 2008 a brand new bike parking cage was under construction at Bentleigh. It would be demolished just 7 years later as part of the rebuilding of the station.
New Parkiteer cage under construction at Bentleigh, December 2008. (Demolished: 2016)

Selfie on a train
Selfie on train, December 2008

I’m not even sure why I snapped this photo: view of the city from above the Bunbury Street tunnel in Footscray. It certainly wasn’t high resolution by 2018 standards, but you can view it larger here.
Bunbury Street tunnel, looking towards the City, December 2008

Desire lines in Bentleigh

Desire lines: signs of bad design?

Desire lines are where authorities intend for people to go one way, but people (especially pedestrians) quite logically ignore them and go a different way.

Often they indicate poor design.

Here are some quick examples from my neck of the woods.

You have to wonder whose bright idea this was. Try and divert the pedestrians away to a crossing. Why do it? The worn grass indicates not many people follow the recommended path.
Desire lines in Bentleigh

Similar story at this roundabout. It’s a less busy street for pedestrians so the grass looks more intact, but again, why? Puzzling since another roundabout 100 metres away doesn’t have this design.
Desire lines in Bentleigh

Down at Southland, the new station is a roaring success… except for the pathway to the shopping centre, which diverts people via an indirect route – though at least it’s got priority zebra crossings all the way – visible at the left. Still, an awful lot of people come out of the station and instead dodge around the fence and make straight across the car park for the entrance. Are we really that surprised? Hopefully sooner rather than later, Westfield will fix it.
Southland station desire lines

The centre of central Bentleigh: the station. This new pedestrian crossing is very welcome, as it connects the westbound bus stop with the trains. Amazingly, before the grade separation, there was no nearby crossing. With a little thought, they could have made this new crossing wider, stretching towards the bus stop, as when buses arrive, there’s a swarm of people crossing the road.
Bentleigh station pedestrian crossing

And this, around the corner. Having a zebra crossing is good, but it’s clearly in the wrong place. It should be no surprise at all that most people cross at the point aligned with the supermarket entrance. Authorities must have realised this, or there wouldn’t be this signage.
Desire lines in Bentleigh

Often this type of thing appears to be just trying to make life difficult for pedestrians.

I really hope whoever is responsible for these designs is observing how people use these spaces, and isn’t continuing to make these mistakes.

More reading: Desire paths: the illicit trails that defy the urban planners