Energy providers

The solar panels on our roof provide us with power, especially when it is sunny. When we make excess power we sell this back to citipower for 8 cents a KWH. This is pretty paltry since the typical purchase price for power is around 20 – 25 cents a KW.

Had this system been installed prior to the end of 2011 we would be selling power back to the grid at at least 60 cents a KWH and we would be getting that price till 2024. This was to encourage Victorians to take up solar energy – a worthy cause and a good offer. This was know as ‘Premium Feed In Tariffs’ or PFiTs. When that ended a new ‘Transitional Feed in Tariff’ was set up (TFiT) at 25 cents/ KWH but ended at the end of 2012. This kind of tariff should be encouraged.

The 8 cents/ KWH we get makes little difference to our bill this means that by far the best time for us to save money is during the day when we can use the power we produce (when we are working). Some of this happens automatically with the fridge being on but we also save if we use the washing machine and dryer during daytime – i.e put laundry on timers. Other than that there’s not much we can do.

That aside we also need to buy power when it is not sunny. This is when things become extremely complicated. In my view it should be a case of ‘we sell electricity at x cents/ KWH. But like mobile phone plans this would make it too easy for customers. It is so complicated that swarms of door knocking energy sales people plague the suburbs and confuse the innocent. With energy accounts there are discounts and fees, various tariffs, signing up bonuses, conditions and contract lengths. To sift through this I found a number of useful websites the ‘get advice’ websites give general information, the compare plans helps you choose energy plans:

To compare plans. (I didn’t fill in my personal details to get access)

To get advice:

I need to review our energy use better but we’re with AGL now and it seems likely that we can do better.

Also the government should ‘do better’ with feed in tariffs. The argument is that subsidising the development of a solar powered Australia will cost Australians but we all know this is short term nonesense from one of the worlds richest countries.


Double Glazing Or Not

Double glazingI posted this on the Alternative Technology Association forum ( ):

“We are renovating a house. According to our ‘first rate’ energy report we can use single clear glazing. Doing so means that we will use 41000 mega joules per year for heating and cooling.

We will use natural ventilation to cool the house and hydronic heating (radiators) to heat the house. The energy rating gives our heating component of energy use at 30540 mj/annum. At 1.8c per megajoule we are looking at $550 per year to heat the house (no cost to cool)

If we use double glazing throughout then our heating consumption changes to 24170mj/annum. This translates to $435.

This is an annual heating saving of $115

The single glazing option is $15941 + gst
The double glazing option is $20311 + gst

A difference of $4370 + gst or 38years of $115 to pay off?!

Have I miscalculated?”

I received many replies generally agreeing with my calculation but recommending double glazing never-the-less. The arguments put forward were reducing CO2 emmissions, better sound insulation, increased resale value and reduced temperature fluctuations internally. These were all valid to some extent but not what drove us to choose double glazing. The reason we went for it is best articulated by ‘Phil A’ who wrote:

“If you go with the double glazing you will have a really good set up.
Imagine the place in ten years time and power has doubled again. You will be glad you did. The place will even “feel” better with double glazing, being warmer and quieter.
Hydronic under floor heating over insulation and double glazing are three things I will never be without again. Magic.”

A nebulous sense that we will have ‘a really good set up’ in ten years time rather than a ‘we could have afforded double glazing, I wonder if we should have’ in ten years time.