Is this the daftest solar power promotion in Australia?

Watching the late movie on TV last night the most ridiculous ad for solar power I have ever seen came on.

I nearly fell off my sofa when I saw that if you buy a 1.5kW solar system from these guys, they’ll throw in a ‘free’ 50″ plasma TV.

Large Plasma TV’s are, of course, the most energy inefficient form of watching telly known to man. Apart from maybe hiring your own multiplex cinema every evening.

Let’s do some sums:

Having a quick look on tells me that a typical 50 inch plasma with typical usage patterns will suck about 850kWh of electricity per year.

So that’s 2.3kWh of electricity per day.

A good quality 1.5kW solar system in Adelaide will produce approximately 6.6kWh per day.

So that ‘free’ plasma is going to reduce the output of your $10,000 (gross of all rebates) solar power system by 35%.

And if you were planning on exporting that 2.3kWh of electricity to take advantage of SA’s generous net Feed In Tariff then you would be losing $503 per year thanks to the ‘free’ plasma TV.

What a great offer!

P.S. The number one sign of a great solar panel installer is that they actually care about your current and future electricity usage so that you will get the maximum benefit and maximum payback from your shiny new solar panels. If the installer doesn’t care about energy efficiency, quickly move on to someone that does.

Daily Telegraph gets on its high horse about Solar Power and Electricity prices

I’ve been in Sydney for a couple of days (including a really interesting tour of Silex Solar’s impressive Solar Panel factory at Olympic Park).

I picked up the Daily Telegraph in the hotel this morning to see the front page screaming about electricity prices.

According to the paper, the only person who can bring NSW electricity prices down is the Premier: Kristina Keneally – and the Telegraph is demanding that she does something about it – or else…

Now I’m no fan of  the mob of incompetent cronies and hollowmen that has made up the NSW government for the past few years, but electricity prices are high because of massive demand and limited supply. That demand is created by the NSW public building black roofed McMansion hotboxes with 10kW air-conditioning as standard and almost no insulation or window shading – never mind double glazing.

Let’s take some responsibility for our actions and accept that if we create massive demand for something (through being hopeless at implementing simple energy efficiency measures) we shouldn’t be surprised if the price goes up.

The Telegraph’s solution to all this is for the State Government to hand out hundreds of dollars a year to people with high bills and stop encouraging people to invest in solar power by scrapping NSW’s Solar Bonus (Gross Feed In Tariff).

So let me get this right: the journos at the Telegraph think that the solution to high electricity prices is to reward the people who use the most electricity, and stop rewarding those people who choose to generate their own?

I say: just leave the market to sort itself out. High electricity prices (combined with intelligent rebates for energy efficiency) will encourage more people to be more energy efficient, which will reduce the demand for electricity and increase the supply from solar power, which can only push electricity prices down.

And don’t forget that the majority of the increase in electricity prices is to fund the building of more wires and poles to cope with “peak demand” periods. These peak demand periods are basically when the sun is at its hottest in the afternoon and everyone’s air conditioners are running full throttle. Power output from residential solar panels peaks at exactly the same time, helping to reduce peak demand. And because the solar panels are on your roof and any power exported will be used locally, they don’t need pylons and hundreds of km of power cabling to get the power to the end user.

Is Global Warming a Hoax and Solar Power a waste of time?

Most of my websites are all about energy efficiency and also using technologies like solar power to get your electricity bills down.

Of course, a huge motivation to do this is that many people believe that CO2 emissions damage the environment though global warming.

Other people are motivated financially. Others just like the thought of taking responsibility for generating the power that their household uses.

Whatever your personal view on Global Warming, you can’t have failed to sense a growing scepticism about the issue recently.

A lot of folks are wondering whether the whole thing is just one big hoax by vested interests. For example: Scientists who want research dollars. Or Pollies who want an excuse to collect more tax dollars.

So what’s the truth? Is it a hoax, or if you don’t believe in mass conspiracies, are the majority of climate scientists simply getting brainwashed by the research dollars waved at them?

Well, anything is possible!

I certainly live my life by the adage, that if the government, says something is a given – then usually the opposite is true…

Example BS pedalled by the government:

• the US Banking System being safe as (sub prime) houses,
• the need to be protected by internet censorship filters
• first home owners grants make houses more affordable
• Canberra is a nice place to live and work ☺

My personal take is that, yes a lot of politicians do get very excited at the thought that they can tax us more and use Global Warming as an excuse,

And yes – some scientists have a very vested interest in GW being real, but… I’ve never really been one for conspiracy theories.

And the mind boggling size of the conspiracy you would need to subvert the thousands of scientists who have contributed to the peer-reviewed science is just mind boggling. Forget the moon landing being a fake – this would be on a whole new level.

The other thing that has convinced me of the reality of global warming is a Pommie journalist called George Monbiot.

If, like me you don’t have the time or patience to read through the science and decide for your self if it is sound, you could do worse than to read Monbiot’s opinion. ( a quick Google will find these articles)

He has read the science, formed a very objective opinion. And he is scared witless about what the future holds.

He now makes it his mission to question the arguments against GW head on. He recently went into verbal combat with one of the world’s leading global warming sceptics, Australian, Ian Plimer on Lateline.

Have a look at the video and see what you think– If nothing else it is a fascinating showdown:

Ian Plimer and George Monbiot Battle on Lateline

How to build a giant Solar Powered Oven

Does your house feell like a forced fan convection oven in summer?

Here’s how to build a highly efficient, giant solar powered oven.

Eight steps to making sure your oven gets as hot as possible in summer: powered by nothing other than the sun!

1. Erect a wooden frame about the size of an average house.

2. Build bricks around the outside of the frame. Bricks have a good thermal mass, which means that as the sun shines on them in the day, the bricks will store the heat and radiate it back into the oven long after the sun has gone down.

3. Fix a very low thermal mass material (like plasterboard) to the inside of the timber frame so that if any cool air gets in the oven (heaven forbid), the coolness won’t be stored in the inner walls.

4. Put lots of glass in the walls (avoid double glazing at all costs), especially the north facing one. Make sure these windows have minimal awnings.

5. Put black colorbond (ideally) or dark tiles on the top of the timber frame to maximize the heat absorbed by the ‘roof’ of the oven.

6. Add a fan that blows air down from the top of the oven. This way, as the hot air inside the oven rises, you can blow it back down to floor level to makes sure that anything on ground level gets suitably cooked through. To keep things simple, we’ll refer to this ventilation system as the ‘Ducted Air System’

7. If you are worried about cool air getting into the Ducted Air System, then simply add an insulated ceiling to create a roof space.  Ensure all the ducted air system’s pipes are kept inside this ferociously hot roofspace.  This will  minimize the chance of any air in the pipes actually getting cold.

8. If the meat in the oven needs a little more grilling, then add dozens of high powered halogen heaters liberally recessed into the ceiling. As well as producing enormous amounts of heat these little halogen bulbs will produce a small amount of light as an added bonus.

If your house was built like this and resembles an oven in summer,  the two most cost effective things you can probably do are:

a)   Fit mains or solar powered fans into the roof to remove the hot air from the roofspace. These will remove 7-10 times as much air as a passive ‘whirlybird’.

b)   Fit external awnings on all N, E and W facing windows.

If you do those and your cooling bills don’t halve, I’ll eat my cancer-council approved wide brimmed hat.