Day 14 Na BloPoMo: Running on low power

 

Here we are relaxing after dinner- I’m playing with the lappy and Spotrick is watching the old movie “Taxi Driver” on pay-tv.

 

Just as we switched the air conditioner on before dinner, there was an item on the news saying that the price of electricity would be going up 12% in the next 12 months. This made me put a one-hour timer on the aircon, as our power bills have been shocking during summer and winter quarters these last few years. That reminds me- I need to put up some blinds over our atrium windows to reduce heat conduction. The length of the windows is 2.3 metres, which is 10cm longer than the standard pre-made blinds, so we have to get a measure and make job done. This costs money, and that’s something that’s not going to be around because it’s Christmas. So- out comes the poor old credit card again, giving Spotrick another lump of credit to pay off. Never ending story. Imagine if we had even less income, plus some kids? This piece told me all about local problems– it’s shocking!

 

The cost of power (and emitting carbon, I suppose) has climbed astronomically since I haven’t had employment, amounting to 30% over the past three years. Pensioners and the unemployed are really starting to have a terrible time much as they always have, I gather from this article written in 1904!. With our climate, we find it very difficult to get by without cooling in the summer as the nights can be nearly as warm as the days, eg. 43 degree day followed by a 28 degree night. Phew! Similarly winters regularly go to 5 or less deg C and many days don’t get above 14, meaning some sort of heating is needed unless you’re doing vigorous housework.

 

The last couple of summers and winters I have tried to go without heating or cooling as much as possible while I’ve been home alone, but it can be misery-making. I’ve been very depressed for years so anything likely to make me more miserable was a bad idea and Spotrick encouraged me to stay warm in winter, at least. Also, in the heat of summer, if I don’t cool down somehow, I just become a zombie and sit in a heap all day, unable to find the energy or motivation for anything. I truly HATE the heat, although I can tolerate cold better. What’s going to happen when the electricity becomes too expensive to use for temperature regulation? We can’t afford to put in solar power and wind seems to be expensive to fit as well.

For about the last 6 or 7 years a good friend of ours has been trying to get finance for a new power station to serve the city. He has a place to build it, proper builders plans, approval from council and emissions permission from the Environment Council. He even made a down payment on some huge turbines in Hong Kong, but was gazumped by the major power provider in our state who had been informed of his intentions- they bought the turbines and have sat on them ever since to keep the price of power high. He’s located some more turbines but the finance has been upset by the Global Financial Crisis and the turbine manufacturers/distributors may have been embroiled in the EnRon thing in the USA. It’s been a rocky road and I think all the investment so far may be lost- sad all round.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have fetched the portable fan from the bedroom and switched that on as it’s quite warm sitting here digesting dinner! We can’t open the back door for a breeze as the courtyard is still quite hot (it’s 8.30 pm) and there are lots of mosquitoes. Spotrick is allergic to mozzie bites and the repellant disk doesn’t work in the fan breeze! Life!

I wonder if electricity is so expensive compared with the cost of living in other parts of the world? Roger Valdez makes some good points in this article from the USA. I’ve always thought it must be very expensive to use heating oil all winter in the USA- whenever I’ve lived in houses here with heating oil, people always let the tank run to empty and don’t refill until the next year. It was certainly a lot more expensive than gas heating, but I’m not sure now. For a while the authorities were saying we should reduce reliance on oil and gas because they were running out, but now they seem to be almost limitless! I’m confused!

On the other hand, coal mining is supposed to be reduced to stop filling the atmosphere with carbon, so coal-fired power stations will have to give way to something else. I hope it’s nuclear, but a lot of people are against it in the community because of the old disasters like Silkwood and Chernobyl. I think that a few pebble-bed reactors, in the style used by the Chinese would be a great improvement on what we do now and my impression is they are safer than most alternatives when working at their optimal level. Politics will decide that one.

 

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