May 4, 2017: Episode 12 – Replacing the Sewer Lines

This week we have a new video to share about the ongoing Energy Retrofit of the old fibro cottage next to the Greeny Flat. If you’re new to our site you can catch up on all eleven of our previous short little videos about the project by CLICKING HERE.

Our latest episode (below) shows us replacing the underground sewer lines on the west side of the house in preparation for the new deck and awning roof we plan to build. Replacing sewer lines might not seem like it has much to do with an energy retrofit but everything affects everything else.

In this case, we have had trouble with roots getting into the old, earthenware sewer pipes in the past. That’s not the end of the world when the pipes are buried under the grass in the back yard but it could become a much bigger problem if the pipes are inaccessible underneath the new deck.

So what does that have to do with improving the performance of the house? Well the deck will be covered by an awning roof running down most of the west side of the house. This is where the hot afternoon sun comes from in summer so the roof will help to shade the west wall, keeping the house cooler and more comfortable and reducing the need for air-conditioning.

Cintia and I are going away for a bit of a holiday and when we get back we’ll start building the new deck and roof. I’m planning to use a prefabricated steel frame for the new structure. This will be a new experience for me and I’m curious to see how it goes. So watch for more little videos as the project progresses.

Adani Disaster

In our Newsletter on April 14th I showed images of the coal spill from the Adani port facility at Abbott Point into a sensitive wetland adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Yesterday I got an email from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) with more detail about just how bad the situation is.

‘Tonight, it was revealed that Adani breached their licence, spilling highly polluting coal slurry next to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Adani got a special licence from the Queensland Government to release discharge into the Caley Valley Wetlands and the ocean from their Abbot Point coal terminal.

Even with this special licence to pollute, Adani exceeded their permitted limit to the ocean by more than 800 per cent. The ABC is reporting that Adani faces a possible multi-million-dollar fine.

It’s outrageous they got this license and even worse that they massively breached it. It’s outrageous that they turned the wetland black. Weeks later, locals and scientists are still picking up coal.

Adani cannot safely operate a coal port on a cyclone-prone coast. There’s no way we can let them dig Australia’s biggest megamine – which threatens to drain and pollute groundwater, wreck our climate and destroy our Great Barrier Reef.’

If this bothers you as much as it bothers me I suggest you visit the ACF website and consider joining and/or donating to their fight to stop the Adani Megamine.

New Local Solar Installers

I am often asked by people in our local community (i.e. the Southern Highlands of NSW) who I can recommend for installing solar systems in our area. There are a number of local installers. Some, like my good friend Manuel Cilia (owner of  Cilectric Pty Ltd), have been installing solar in this area for donkey’s years. But Manuel prefers to focus on larger projects and off-grid installations.

So what about smaller, grid-tied systems for homes and businesses? Lately I’ve been hearing about a new company in our area called Simmark so I thought I’d better find out more about them. It turns out they’ve been installing solar in the Nowra area for over twenty years and have only recently expanded their business into the highlands.

Earlier today I met with the owners of the company, Mark Horsfall and Matthew Simms, to hear more about the company and what they have to offer. I was impressed with both gentlemen and particularly with their philosophy of understanding their customer’s energy requirements and encouraging them to find ways to conserve energy before installing solar on their roof. Regular readers will know that I preach the same sermon.

I also learned that Simmark does not restrict themselves to solar installations. They also do heating and air-conditioning systems, electrical, plumbing, security systems and maintenance work on all of the above. The following video is a short introduction to their business.

To be clear, I have not worked with Simmark on any projects and I do not receive any kind of payment from them. I can’t vouch for the quality of their work or their customer service but, from what I have learned today, I suspect that both are excellent. So I suggest that, if you need any of the above work done, you consider contacting Simmark for a quote. And please let me know how it goes… I will be very interested to hear about your experience with them (or any other local installer for that matter).

Solar Payback Period

Finally, the following link is to a piece that the above-mentioned Mark Horsfall wrote on Linked-In about the Payback Period and Return on Investment for a solar power system. I agree with Mark’s assessment that…

‘…6-7 years implies a 10.3 – 12.0% compounded annual return.

This opportunity needs to be put in relative terms. What other asset class is going to provide that kind of after-tax return in a world where $12 trillion of sovereign debt (or about 1/3 of all government borrowings worldwide) are now attracting negative yields? This is particularly the case when viewed on a risk –adjusted basis (i.e. the return on one’s solar investment is a virtual certainty as far as I am concerned, and easily competes with the aforementioned sovereign risk).’

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