January 2021

2020 was difficult for all the obvious reasons but the big task we had last year was to start making enquiries to re-roof our house. It is covered with cedar shingles so that needs a slightly different set of roofing skills to normal and we also started looking into putting solar panels on the roof. We haven’t achieved either of these yet. But, having worked out it was possible and, for us, affordable we then looked at what else would support a move to solar energy for the house.

At the end of 2020 my husband’s car lease was up for renewal, armed with a little confidence about solar power and storing the energy in a battery, we looked at opportunities for a fully electric car or some sort of hybrid. The affordable fully electric cars just didn’t give him the journey range he needed for work, so we looked at the opportunities for a plug in hybrid and out of those he found one he was comfortable driving.

It will do about 25 miles all electric on one charge which isn’t earth shaking by any stretch of the imagination. But in context, it easily does the school run and local journeys round town without emissions before he gets out on the motorway for the day job so we are happy with the choice for now.

Just before Christmas, earlier than expected, the new car arrived so thus ensued in a bit of a flurry to get car charger installed and the battery. All ahead of new roof and solar panels where the original enquiries began!!

The consequence of all this new tech arriving is we also changed energy provider because the battery and the car charging facilities now give us opportunity to take charge from the electricity network at night (off peak). Our existing provider had no off peak tariff or any intention of taking energy we might over produce from our solar panels. The new provider (the switch finally happened yesterday) will, when we have a smart meter fitted, give us that flexibility. Brave new, and a little bit exciting, world……

I’d just like to say that yes solar panels, car charger and battery are expensive and not everyone is in a position to make these choices. We bought our house four years ago knowing that the roof was going to need replacing (the shingles are 60 years old with a design life of about 50 years – we can see daylight through them in places) and that meant we had an opportunity to look at solar power. We have been saving money madly since that point in order to be able to afford the scheme. If we only had funds for the roof then the other stuff wouldn’t have happened in quite the same way or at this time.

It has made me realise that if we hadn’t looked for opportunities to produce energy we would have missed any possibility to fit solar panels. They can’t be retrofitted easily to a cedar shingle roof.

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