Saturday, June 11, 2016

Improving things -and a puzzled electrician!

We had the electrician in this week to do a few jobs we have been saving up. One of them was to add a timer to the solar hot water system booster. This winter we  I have had some rather chilly showers because we haven't got the 'turning off and turning on the booster during the day when the solar array is most active" thing going as a routine. We are pleased to have this now as an automatic 4 hours in the middle of the day. Our young electrician was most bemused however, as he couldn't understand why we wanted the booster on during the day, rather than at night just before the morning shower routine. I think he was struggling to get his head around the 'use your own power first" idea that comes with solar panel ownership.

The Science Show on RN was on the topic of solar power and battery storage. Here is the link. Just as soon as battery storage gets a bit more affordable, we would love to have even more chance to 'use our own power first". The show points out that there is still some resistance among power companies to the whole idea of battery storage AND being connected to the grid for those weeks when the clouds just don't allow the home owner to make enough power and store it for all their needs. I am confident this will change as power companies realise that they are saving money by not building more power stations. We need to do this for the climate! 

The hot water booster is not a problem for our budget, as we get free hot water for most of the year, so having to turn on the booster during the winter months in Perth is not a big deal for us-especially if we can use our own energy wherever possible! We will gradually cut back the number of hours that the booster is on, as we move past the winter solstice and the days get longer with the sun higher in the sky, thus making the solar hot water system more efficient.

We finally got the electrician to put up a new light fitting over the piano -only about 15 years since we needed it! It is using a LED light globe just like most of them we have in this house now.  DH is very happy because there is no shadow on music books which are on the piano ledge any more!

I have been out in the garden today setting up a new wicking bed in a large but damaged plastic pot. I lined it with black plastic, and used the crack in the side of the pot for the overflow pipe bung- it is a bit high up the side of the pot, but I hope the veggies I want to grow will manage, without it turning into a lake when it rains. I have planted broad beans and spinach-fingers crossed that they come up! If you would like some instructions on making a wicking bed try this helpful post  and this YouTube clip .

I am happy to have kept this large plastic pot out of the landfill. It gives us an extra veggie garden bed, and saved us the cost of purchasing a raised garden tub -we have three of these already. It would have been a squeeze to add another complete tub, as I wanted to just use a small corner of the garden near the citrus trees. That is a saving of about $200!

Talking of citrus trees: I tried a new winter salad on some Friday guests -using two of our grapefruit cut up with no pith or membrane, added to finely sliced fennel and home grown parsley and mint. Served on a bed of spinach leaves, it was a refreshing crunch to the vegetarian quiche I made. The salad is simply dressed with grapefruit juice and olive oil.

I am thinking of freezing some lime zest as we have quite a good crop. I have frozen lemon zest in the past but heard a story on the radio about a lime farmer who was making lime salt with zest, and also selling frozen zest to restaurants. The story said the farm was also making lime-and-chilli cordial, which was proving quite popular too! Some of the limes will go in gift bags to our guests at next week's Winter Feast, which we are now planning. It feels so good to be able to share our abundance like this!

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