Saturday 26 February 2022

You can call me Greta

So, it's been a while since my last blog and a lot has changed.  I am a little older, not so much wiser but as interested to share as I always have been. The Lycra is on hold as the cycling has stopped, for now, I’m getting too old and was starting to scare the public.

So whats different about me,  well,  I am on a mission to be more environmentally friendly and to take the state of the planet that little bit more seriously.  Maybe it's an age thing, maybe not, but I do have a new hero (well heroine), that my wife tells me I am turning into, Greta Thunberg  the 2nd here I come.

What does all this mean? Well, I believe we can’t just wait on governments to see sense and manage the world in a better way, or, wait for giant corporations to put the planet before profits especially if we can’t be bothered to do it ourselves.  If we all do our bit, be more self conscious to what we do,  then I think we can make a difference.

Some people think, doing something ourselves,  is expensive, or, they look at the amount of time it will take until they get their money back.  I myself, am not as concerned of getting back my money, my concern is having a positive impact to my own life and doing my little bit to make the planet better place.  If that means, my family needing to say every now and again "Gary's going Greta again" then fine, I'll take it, knowing I am doing my little bit to make the world a better place. Leaving something that can be enjoyed by my children and grandchildren in the times to come.

So What has Greta 2 (I mean Me) done so far and what am planning to do?  Well here is just a little of what I have done and what I plan to do.

I got a big butt!

Yep, that's right.  My inner Greta stirrings started a couple of years back by me getting a large butt (not the one in Lycra) but the type that holds water. This is one of the cheapest environmental changes one can make, adding a water butt to your garden.  When it rains it captures water that we can then use to water the garden.  I have to say, here in the UK,  we have a lot of rain as well as some dry spells, so no problems in keeping my butt full and ready for action.

I found that,  most of the time I was able to keep my garden green during dry spells by using the water from the butt. It's only ever completely emptied once and even then, it was full within a week or so.  

It's better for the plants too,  not putting tap water on the garden results in better plants,  less water waste and a greener garden even when there is a hose pipe ban in place.  It's also only around £30 and takes 10-15 minutes to fit.  

I went electric

So, for those of you that know me, know I am a real car mad person.  I once may have called myself a petrol head, but I've traded them in for electrons and gone for the full Greta experience.

Yes, around 18 months ago I changed and adopted electric motoring, purchasing an Audi E-Tron.  Although many complain about infrastructure,  range anxiety and the capabilities of electric cars.  I can honestly say it's one of the best moves I have made.

I think getting the car was the start of making wife the Eco Rebel.  Yes I needed a charge point installed which resulted in having a trench dug through her wonderfully manicured lawns.  This is the one headache I needed painkillers for especially as she still hasn’t forgiven me, even though the lawn now shows no evidence of it’s turmoil.

The performance is exhilarating,  no changing gear, just instant torque at any speed.  Yes it's a half a second slower to 60 than my old 4.2 V8 RS4, but it's every much as fun. In fact, having torque constantly on tap, I’d say it might be more fun.  It’s also much more refined,  almost silent.

This did cause me an issue at the traffic lights one.  A young wanna be, in his Golf R was sat at the side of me revving and popping his exhausts.  He couldn’t believe it when I wound down my window, and shouted “Vroom Vroom Vrr Vrr Vrr” and then set off in silence.  I did say it’s just as much fun as before.

It can, in summer, do over 220 miles on full charge and can fast charge at an Ionity fast charger in around 20 minutes.  Anyone who doesnt want to stop for 20 minutes and coffee break after 220 miles of driving is mad.  

I have driven home a couple of times with just 10 miles left in the battery and I'm confident it really has 10 miles.  Not like a petrol, when the warning light goes on, you have no idea how long you have.

My wife is now being dragged, kicking and screaming into a new Eco world (more below) but I’ve even convinced her to 'Go Greta' later this year.  The experience has been so good she's trading in her 3.0 V6 for electric as well.  

I went electric (2)

As well as going for an Electric car, we have also had Solar Panels and battery installed at home.  I ordered them last July, but, due to needing permission from the grid due to the capacity we could generate, it finally got installed on the 7th December.  Yep, that’s right, 2 weeks before the shortest day, our solar was installed.  Even though we’re not generating anywhere near what we would expect,  January has seen a huge reduction in our electricity costs (its around 30% of what it was, yes that right I am saving 70%).

In addition, we also replaced our tumble dyer for a new Heat Pump Tumble Dryer.  But now, this is where my wife has become the total eco rebel.  She can now see that if she puts on the washing machine, tumble dryer, iron, tv etc etc; just to see how much electricity can be consumed and how quickly the battery can be drained.  It’s her mission to see the quickest method to drain the battery, I am sure I can hear it’s pain.

But, we’re both so glad we have moved on the energy efficiency front, especially with the recent rise in energy prices and possible rises to come.  I am certain we will be self sufficient for Electric from March to end of October.  

In addition, having an electric car, we have an electric car tariff with cheap charging between 00:30 and 04:30.  As well as charging the car during this time we also charge the solar battery in the winter months.  It can hold nearly 9Kwh of power which is a lot of what we use during the day.  So even when the sun don’t shine, we’re still saving. 

As well as going Solar,  we have also dropped all alkaline battery use.  Adopting rechargeable batteries (which we can now charge for free during the day) and reducing harmful, alkaline battery waste. 

So what’s next ?

Get the Eco rebels new car first,  we’re test driving a number of vehicles.

Get a Air Heat Source Pump and replace our Gas Boiler.  Using the Solar / Battery power for a super efficient heat source pump making use of the new UK Government grants towards the cost that are due to be launched in April. We’re expecting this to be a great saving,  reducing our gas burning significantly which after all, it’s a fossil fuel.  Heat Source pumps take energy from the air and are highly efficient (in fact usually for every KWh of electricity you put in you get 4KWh equivalent of heat), compared to even the most efficient boilers which return 0.9 KWh equivalent for every KWh put in.  This should mean our water and heating costs should be negligible going forward.

Tune my inner Greta and try to work out how an Eco Warrior and an Eco Rebel can enjoy the same journey together.

I have also rekindled my interest in photography as I try to take pictures of the old and the new world. I’ve included some of the photos above.  My current project is Energy Old and New.

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