Saturday, August 28, 2010

Solar installations giving home owners a disappointing average saving of $200 a year on electricity bills.

I noticed this article from the online version of the local paper where seven neighbours compared the savings of their solar installations over the past twelve months.

In particular this comment interested me.

"The data, collected over the past 12 months, showed an average saving of $200 a year on electricity bills."

I also thought this comment about going solar was interesting.

"Templestowe resident Ron Gaudion said that while he found that the savings were "disappointing" and "below predictions", the decision to install a solar power system, which cost around $1800 after the Federal Government rebate, was not about making money."

Over the last few months I've reviewed both solar and basic energy reduction strategies. Whilst the local government offer was a bulk offer for $1,800 to install solar, the common figure quoted in the press is around $2,990. Local residents are finding the payback is around nine years and if others pay the dearer price, they may find the payback to be closer to 15 years. What also has to be kept in mind is the government is chipping in an amount I suspect to be around $7,000 of our taxpayers money to benefit the few who thought they'd save a lot of money. I personally don’t believe others should have to pay for my choice to install solar, so I prefer to pay for it myself.

On the other hand basic energy reduction strategies cost very little to implement. For example I've purchased a foot switch and a remote controlled power board for under $100 in total. I also purchased low energy lights (whilst on special) rather than having taxpayers pick up the cost of around $10 per light using the governments scheme. The benefit is I also ended up with the lights I wanted rather than the one size fits all approach. In addition I purchased a basic device which showed me the wattage a device was using for around $40, so I could make informed decisions.

The savings I'm seeing are around $150-$170 a quarter which means I paid off the devices in the first quarter and have been saving money ever since. No taxpayers money. No solar panels detracting from the look and potentially the value of my home. Just a bit of investigation and then some simple changes in habits.

I continue to look for ways to utilise solar panels without other taxpayers having to pick up the tab. It is quite hard however as I'm finding it difficult to get a payback of under 7-10 years and that's just for the solar panels. But of course that doesn’t include any form of grant.

For those who are interested solar and energy reduction techniques, I've created an Energy Cost Calculator which will enable you to work out how much a device is costing you. The calculator plus the energy meter is what I used to reduce my energy usage.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, August 27, 2010

Smartbus 902 (Smart bus) - The adventure

Ever since the Smartbus 902 service started running via Templestowe I've wanted to test out the service and share the experience with others, who like me, may not take public transport very often, if at all.

Roughly speaking, during the week the Smartbus runs every 15 minutes and on weekends every 30 minutes. I remember when I first moved to Templestowe I waited for an hour on the weekend for a bus on Williamsons Road and nothing came in either direction. Things have certainly changed for the better.

I decided to take the Smartbus from the corner of Foote Street and Williamsons Road to Eltham station and then catch the train to Southern Cross station. From there I was meeting a business colleague.

Before taking the Smartbus I called the Metlink info line to make sure I could purchase a ticket on the bus and confirm the daily travel card was $10.60. It was confirmed I could buy a ticket on the bus. I checked the timetable and felt I could make the 10:54am so I was off on the adventure. But first a check of the weather on the internet. It was currently 9 degrees with a maximum of 13 degrees and cloudy, so a thick jumper was in order. I also threw a pocket raincoat into my bag in case of rain. It is Melbourne after all. Much easier to carrying than an umbrella. I was now ready for the adventure.

A brisk walk to the bus stop and the Smartbus was there waiting. I was lucky as I'd left home at 10:49am and arrived at 10:58am, but when I checked the ticket it was 10:53am. The clock on the bus was slow which meant I caught the 10:54am by luck.

There was one other person on the bus and arrived at Eltham station at 11:08am. Next was a 13 minute wait at Eltham station for the 11:21am semi express from Clifton Hill to Jolimont. I was actually quite surprised the train trip was 46 minutes. I thought it would have been less. From there I had about a ten minute walk. The total time was about an hour and a half, which is about twice the time it would have taken for me to drive. The good thing is I had no problems with parking and had a good reason for a bit of walking.

The return trip consisted of the ten minute return walk to Southern Cross station. I arrived at 4:39 and the next train was at 4:52pm which arrived on time. I arrived at Eltham station at 5:36pm with the Smartbus scheduled for 5:48pm. The Smartbus arrived on time and reached my bus stop at 6pm, another brisk walk and I was home at 6:08pm. Total return trip was again around an hour and a half.

I found the buses and trains comfortable. There was a disgruntled patron at Eltham station which was a concern, but other than that no real problems.

One thing I did notice was there was only one other person travelling on the bus to Eltham. From Eltham there was also one other person with another person getting on for a short section.

I wanted to test the Smartbus service so I could compare the experience with driving. Given I was driving off-peak, the time to drive would have been somewhere around 30-45 minutes, or about half the time on public transport. With just two passengers the bus probably wasn't any more energy efficient than using the car. For a single fare when compared with driving a car, if you take into account petrol, wear and tear on the vehicle and parking, public transport is reasonable value. However, if there were two of us, it would be much harder to justify public transport.

I've also been fortunate to recently travel overseas. For example in London I found buses and trains more frequent. From the Heathrow area if I travelled into the city of London the cost was about $13, but if I avoided the central area (staying within zones 6-2) I could travel for around $9.40. Had I stayed one zone in (zone 5) it would have cost $7.60 a day. Our ticket costs are thus dearer and the frequency of public transport less often. Other European countries I found were just as good and cheaper again. Melbourne transport has a bit of catching up to do if they are to match other countries.

In the end however we have what we have and overall the experience, cost and time to travel for a single traveller was a good experience.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mobile speed camera locations in Templestowe for August

Courtesy of the Victorian government the following are the locations of mobile speed cameras in Templestowe for August 2010. As stated on the government site "Mobile cameras are installed in unmarked vehicles parked on the side of a road."

High Street, between Rosemary Street and Linton Avenue
Serpells Road, between Church Road and Killibury Court
Reynolds Road, between Hawtin Street and Smiths Road
Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, August 9, 2010

News in the Templestowe area

For those interested in what has been happening around Templestowe the following is a collection of news articles from the web. If you are interested in more easily finding products and services from local businesses
you can use the search feature on the 3106 postcode page. Over 120 local businesses are now included in the local search engine.
If you are someone you know has a business based in Templestowe and wish to be included in the local search engine please contact me.
A BUDGET blowout, teaching disruptions and “mismanagement” are the reasons the $3.25 million federal stimulus project at Templestowe Park Primary School has been an “unmitigated disaster”, the school council president says.

TEMPLESTOWE teenager Linus Couper is facing one of the biggest challenges of his life - a battle with cancer.

JULIAN and Sarah Yule will embark upon a 590km father-daughter bonding experience when they set out on the Great Victorian Bike Ride in November.

PLANS to build a dog activity centre in Templestowe have been scratched.

Marco has a rare condition that causes regular seizures and learning difficulties, but an assistance dog could help keep him safe and happy.

The new high-visibility uniform has been tested by Templestowe posties this year, and has proven to improve safety for postal workers.

"Josh" has found himself at the Halfway Home Animal Rescue in Templestowe after he was plucked from a dog pound two months ago.

YOUNG soccer gun Nicholas Krousoratis has big dreams.

FOR most musicians, playing an instrument outside in the rain might cause concern, but for avant garde composer Ross Bolleter, who performed on a piano at the Heide Museum of Modern Art's sculpture park in Templestowe yesterday, harsh weather conditions are almost welcome.

FOR five years a grieving Templestowe family has maintained a roadside memorial at the spot where their son died in a car crash, hoping it will remind drivers to take care.

Kelvin Eldridge