Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Solar Stats - June 2012

So...I haven't been very good at checking my solar stats every month. My bad.

Here's some new figures based on the inverter data on the 9th of June:

Stats for months 4 & 5 - 52 days (18 April - 9 June 2012):

Month 4 & 5 export: 183.1 kWh
Month 4 & 5 operational hours: 451 hours
Month 4 & 5 average daily export: 3.52 kWh

The daily export has decreased almost by half - what a different winter makes!

Cumulative total (since installation on 16 December 2011):
Total export: 898.6 kWh
Total operational hours: 1653 hours
Average daily export: 5.91 kW

My electricity bill was much lower than the same quarter last year which was great - exact figures to come.

Excuse the quality of the photo - it's really tricky to get a photo of the readings because the screen cycles through three different sets of data, and I can never actually see what I'm taking a photo of due to the glare on the iPhone screen!

Living room: before and after

I hesitated when naming this a "Before and after" post. There are still a few things I need to do in the living room for it to be truly 'finished', but it's looking pretty good at the moment, and makes for some great before and after photos!

The room originally had these wonderful features:
  • worn, dirty brown and yellow speckled carpet
  • dark wood window frames and door frames
  • dingy walls 

The positives were that under the disgusting carpet were timber floorboards (pine unfortunately, but I'll count that as a win), big windows that let in the light, and a decent sized space.

I had the floors polished and they turned out just gorgeous...at the time I was hoping for something a bit darker but I really do love them. After pulling up that carpet I don't think I'll ever live with carpet ever again. The dust and dirt just gives me the heebie jeebies (spelling?!) and the ease of cleaning up cat vomit from a wooden floor is something to write home about.

Carpet gone!

Newly polished floorboards (excuse the iPhone pic taken at night):

In person the colour is more saturated that this - in the photo above the colour looks really light, but they are a warm medium brown colour.

And now for the "after":

  • Couches - technically a couch and an ottoman, but I added a long body pillow against the wall to make an extra couch. Bought for $100 from a friend who was getting a new couch. I think they were originally from Freedom.
  • Coffee table - from my parents...this was the coffee table in our family room in South Africa. My mom keeps suggesting I paint it white, but I'm quite reluctant to! Ordinarily I'd be the first to suggest a coat of white paint to update wooden furniture.
  • The white box on the right is also a family piece - it's essentially a crate with a hinged lid, apparently originally used as an egg crate (I picture two stacks of the 3-dozen egg trays sitting side by side). We call it the egg box. Creative stuff indeed!
  • The large frame has a poster of a painting depicting Las Ramblas that I bought in Barcelona. 
  • The three smaller frames on the left are three acryclic paintings on canvas that I bought in Nepal, framed in market-bought frames made from reclaimed wood.
  • The lamp on the left is an op shop (charity shop) find - I bought the base and the shade separately (see pic before for a close up)
  • The lamp on the right I found on eBay for less that $20.
  • The basket between the couches has extra blankets for winter, I bought it on eBay for about $10.
  • The newest addition is the rug - it's 100% jute from IKEA (Tarnby). I have been looking at this rug for years, every time I went to IKEA. I was there last week and decided it was actually a bargain ($129 for the 180 x 250cm size) so I finally got it. I think it just finishes off the room, and helps to define the space, as it's shared with the dining table.
On the wall opposite the proper couch is an IKEA Expedit TV Unit that I found on eBay for just under $200. I'll still need to really tackle the styling so I haven't taken any photos yet.

On the right, diagonally opposite the window is this funky chair I found on eBay for less than $20. I love all the textures from the jute and the rattan and the wood tones paired with the crisp white.

Walls are painted with Lexicon quarter white, and the window frames have been painted in semi-gloss.

A few final touches before I deem this room officially finished:
  • remove old flesh-coloured roller blinds and replace with white wooden venetian blinds (already purchased and cut to size, just waiting on my brother to hang them for me!)
  • remove current lace curtains (although they're great for privacy) and replace with IKEA curtain rods and FERLE curtains.
  • remove the old wall heater (the dark blob behind the funky chair) which has been disconnected from the mains electricity, repair hole and touch up paint.
  • style bookshelves and photograph
  • perhaps make the wall above the couch a gallery wall?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bathroom mini-update

My bathroom is original to the house...built in the 70s or early 80s, so it's a lovely combination of brown patterned tiles and beige fixtures. I don't have the cashola to do a full renovation yet, so for the moment I've had to make do with some paint and accessories.

This is an iPhone photo taken during an inspection:

Here's a wider angle - a screen grab of the photos on www.realestate.com.au. Gotta love the professional photos, the bathroom actually looks quite nice!

Since then I've painted the window frame white, painted the walls (Lexington Quarter White) and added a basket of towels. I also changed the taps by the basin - just simple chrome taps instead of those big brown plastic monstrosities. I must remember to get another two sets for the bath and shower (I bought them for about $3 at the Reject Shop, hopefully they still have them!). A huge improvement in person, although it's hard to photograph.

I'm debating whether to paint the tile...I'm worried that will enhance the beige bath and basin, and gold shower, and make the room feel really cold. On the other hand, it could make the room full much lighter and bigger once all that brown is gone. I'll probably end up doing it, since eventually there will be a full bathroom renovation. Nothing to lose!

Last but not least, my lovely brother installed these Lillholmen hooks on the back of the door.

Next up...living room progress.

House progress

So...it's been a while. No excuses...

Anyway, I had a week off work and lucky for me my mom came to stay. Otherwise I may have spent the whole week being lazy and eating chocolate! But instead we tackled quite a few projects:
  • cleared the back garden of weeks (again!) and this time laid down weed mat
  • planted basil, chives, chillies and spring onions 
  • planted some liriope in the back garden
  • planted petunias, lobelia and white daisies in the front garden
  • scored a bargain outdoor table at Bunnings
  • finished painting the kitchen cupboards
  • patched and painted most of the holes in door frames leftover from having wall light switches installed (and removing the architrave switches)
  • painted the door frame leading from the kitchen to the laundry
  • laid down my new rug in the living room
  • put up curtains in my room and the spare bedroom
  • donated a bunch of clothes, books and bits and pieces to the op shop
 Still to do:
  • paint the wardrobe doors in the spare bedroom
  • paint the door frame and door in the hallway 
  • paint the back door and door frame
  • paint the laundry window frame
  • touch up areas where I've patched walls
  • keep plugging away at removing the wallpaper in the hallway
 Next up...some "after" photos.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Monthly solar stats: 20 Feb - 16 April 2012

I know this isn't exactly a month's calculation, but my solar PV system was switched off for 3 weeks from when my bi-directional meter was installed to when Jemena finally got around to configuring it.

The bi-directional meter was installed on 29 February and my solar PV system was off from 29 February - 21 March. During that time my electric hot water system was on a peak rate.

Stats for month 3 (36 days: 20 February - 17 April, not including 29 February - 21 March):

Month 3 export: 225.6kWh
Month 3 operational hours: 395 hours
Month 3 average daily export: 6.27kWh

The daily export has decreased slightly which would be due to the change in weather - winter is on the way!

Cumulative total (since installation on 16 December 2011):
Total export: 715.5kWh
Total operational hours: 1202 hours
Average daily export: 7.16kW

So far I am really happy with the output. It will be interesting to see how the system performs in winter - since the last measurement the weather has been inconsistent - we've had some lovely sunny days but also quite a few overcast rainy days.

What I was not happy about was having my solar off for 3 weeks AND having my hot water usage charged at peak rates during that time. Jemena said it would take 1-2 weeks for the meter to be remotely programmed before I could turn my system back on, and in the end it took 3 weeks after me calling twice and emailing to follow up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excited about an electricity bill....seriously!

I've been waiting with bated breadth for my electricity bill - not because I'm dreading it, but because I hadn't yet received one since having my solar panels installed in December 2011.

Today was the day!! Never have I been so nervous to open a bill - to see whether all the money and hassle paid off.

A few notes...

  • The bill is for 17 Nov 2011 - 14 Feb 2012. I had my panels installed in 16 December so there was electricity being produced for two of the three months
  • I hadn't yet had a bi-directional meter installed, so there is no calculation of how much electricity the panels produced except the readings I take from my inverter, on the 17th of every month, if I remember! Also, technically I am not getting paid for electricity I produce - the meter was spinning backwards when there was electricity being fed back into the grid, which is equivalent of a Standard Feed-in Tariff (more on that soon).

My Nov 2010-Feb 2011 bill was $207, and my Nov 2011-Feb 2012 bill was $67! Note that the $207 bill included a $35 re-energisation fee which I think is just the connection fee - it was my first bill. So not counting that one-off fee, that's a saving of $105 or 61%.

I had my bi-directional meter installed at the end of February, and my solar panels were switched off for three weeks whilst the meter was being programmed. The bi-directional smart meter replaced my old two-rate peak and off-peak meter. The off-peak meter was only connected to my electric hot water system, which used as many kWh as all my other electricity usage combined, on a typical bill.

For the three weeks that the bi-directional meter was not fully programmed (to Time-of-Use metering), my electricity usage for heating water was being charged at peak rates, as there was only one meter.

I'll explain the whole meter story in another post, should I ever get around to it! (I have three draft posts err...drafted... to explain my solar experience...)

Anyway, that's part of the reason why I didn't do a monthly solar stats post for March - my system was off at the time so I couldn't check the stats...I will do one in April and will just have to factor in the three weeks it was off.

Now that the weather is changing and we have less sunny days and less hours in the day, the electricity production will reduce, but I still expect there will be a decent effect on my winter bill, especially as it was extremely high last year. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Getting organised

A few weeks ago I was wandering around one of those $2 shops - you know the kind that stocks just about anything, and hardly anything is actually $2?

I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but realised it had the perfect 'equipment' to help me get organised in the kitchen. So I spent about $50 on various containers and baskets to get my pantry under control.

To get warmed up, I started with my second kitchen drawer - you know the one that has all the random utensils: scissors, measuring cups and measuring spoons, spatulas, can opener etc. It took about 5 minutes to organise and every time I open that drawer I feel happy.


Yes - nothing to be proud of - but you know what they say: the worse the before picture, the better the after picture is! Ok I just made that up, but it's true, don't you think? And please keep your jealousy of my stunning yellow linoleum kitchen floor to yourself - I know it's super stylish, it's the highlight of my kitchen - really! :P

Now for the after...drum roll please! The two blue plastic containers cost less that $1 each, and were perfect for the job:

I've done the pantry too, but only remember to take after photos at night - I'll aim to get some on Saturday when I'm home during daylight hours!

Hopefully this is step one in a big journey of decluttering, sorting, organising and generally turning my home into the kind of place that makes me feel calm, cool and collected rather than tripping over stuff on the floor, searching all over because I can't find things, and generally feeling like it's all too messy to deal with.