Many years ago, I heard it said that Aboriginal people tread lightly when they walk because they perceive the earth as their mother, and to stomp around on her would be disrespectful, insensitive. That awareness of the earth as mother has been with me ever since. I’m not claiming that I pick my way along like a water bird stalking the shallows, but I do recoil from the attitude that the planet and the creatures on it are ours to take for granted, to exploit and tread all over as we like. And like many others, I have grown ever more conscious of our desecration of the natural environment, and my personal responsibility to “do the right thing”.
I do my best, within reason, to minimise my carbon footprint. No aircon, no bar fridge or freezer, small shared 4-cylinder car, lawn replaced with waterwise natives and organic vege beds laid with sub-mulch drip irrigation, all vegetable waste composted or dispatched to the worm farm.
OK, “within reason” for me might seem extreme to some. It so happens that I find the sustainable living concept attractive, regardless of any climate change factor. I don’t like waste and excess. I do like picking herbs and veges from the back garden and cooking – and eating! – my own organic produce.
I do not seek to present myself as some sort of noble environmentalist making sacrifices for future generations. I enjoy living the way I do. It is no sacrifice. And my topic here is not myself or my lifestyle choices, but hard economics – specifically, in the context of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Yes, even for people like me, practising sustainable living as far as is practicable in an urban environment, choices come down to the bottom line at some point.
Last year, I decided to investigate the viability of installing solar PV panels on the roof. Since we qualified (sadly, very easily) for the Federal Government’s $8,000 rebate for households with incomes under $100K per annum, I assumed the PV panels would pay for themselves within a few years. It seemed a win-win, environmentally and personally – if we could afford the initial capital outlay, we could look forward to smaller energy bills not far down the track, perhaps even no bills at all! Perhaps Synergy would be paying us (such are the claims that are bandied about by some who have taken the plunge and installed solar panels).
Oh yeah? Do the homework and you’re in for a jolting reality check. Continue reading Installing Solar PV Panels – The Figures Don’t Add Up, BUT…