Not just for the sake of it

At this moment in time we can see no reason why we should be off-grid. Nothing would please us more than to deny the government of tax and public service levy totalling over a third of my electricity bill. The thing is, we just don't use that much electricity. When we moved in, all the previous owners' 150W incandescent bulbs were replaced with 6W compact fluorescents. The odd higher wattage ones where needed. In all, the total wattage of all the new bulbs is less than one 150W incandescent.

We bought a fridge and a washing machine and made sure that they were A class energy efficient. Every night we make sure that nothing is left on standby. During the day, we always flick the mains switch anyway if we turn off the television. We wait for a full load of washing before filling the machine. We don't use electricity to heat anything, except for a toaster that produces toast in a minute unlike the poor gas grill that would take an hour if we let it. No electric heater. No microwave. No electric kettle.

In total we use about 3kW/h of power per day. If we put up photovoltaic panels and charged batteries it would take about 20 years to see any savings. It just doesn't make sense. Deep-cycle batteries don't last forever so we would need to replace these every so often. Maybe we would never recoup the cost. So, the money can be better invested elsewhere. During the summer, when we get the time, we shall construct a solar water heater. At present we spend about 500 euros a year on heating oil. In the warmer months the boiler is just boiling hot water for washing with. That could be done with a single solar water heating panel.

When we install a stove in a few weeks time then we shall see how much we can do without the boiler for heating the radiators during the winter. Next year, we will have a good idea as to if we can phase out the oil boiler altogether. The stove will cost us in the region of 1000 euros and the work on solar water heating about another 500 euros. That will show a saving after about 3 years. Now, that's a saving!

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