Friday 7 June 2019

Solar a Go Go

A couple of days ago, I was giving some back-story about domestic energy efficiency. I was talking about direct marketing in this field because I was whacked by a direct marketeer, called Killian, almost as soon as I got home from work last Tuesday. He was calling from Activ8 Energy Ireland and said he was following up an earlier enquiry. Dunno! I talked to a fellow about solar panels a few weeks ago; fobbed him off with "I'm super busy right now; have you got a web-site? why not call me later? [much later, by implication]". The back-story says that I am not the one to talk to on this: The Beloved used to be a consultant in Domestic Energy Efficiency; she wrote a Primary Schools Teaching Pack, she taught in the field in two countries for about 10 years; she examined the subject for City and Guilds qualifications. Killian may have represented the same people with whom she had been starting to negotiate a meeting or may have been from a new player in a busy field.

But it seemed likely that I was, for him, a new Mark because he wanted to ask me a few questions to establish if I/we were a suitable candidate for the Solar Panel Miracle that his company hoped to install on our roof.
My response: "Nope! sorry, but I have a question for you . . .
. . . what is the payback time for your product?" [You can see I've been schooled in the importance of this parameter].

Poor Killian wasn't able to answer this, because there were, in his head, too many variables, which would need to be thrashed out during a site visit by one of their consulants. "Yes, yes", I replied, "but you can give me some ball-park figures for the cost of installation; then I can get an average annual electricity consumption from our bill and from those two figures, I can calculate if your proposal is ever likely to fly.". Suddenly he caved in and told me that
  • After a government grant of €1,400 - €3,800 . . .
  • and an Activ8 Energy Ireland discount of €1,200 . . .
  • there were two products that might suit our "average home"
  • Activ8 claims that their systems are able to shave 40% - 60% off the electricity bill
Our electricity bill varies quite a bit but €900/year would not be wildly off; So a Solar solution could be saving us €450/yr. Therefore  the pay back time is somewhere in the region of  €7,000 / €450 = 15 years. Young Killian was a bit non-plussed, when I suggested, gloomy like Eeyore, that 15+ years didn't sound too good because I was likely to be dead before I recouped my investment in roof-bling.

But here's the point. We live in a world where the value of things is wildly disconnected from their cost. [for example: We could surely manage with fewer paper-pushing, meeting-attending, middle managers in the Health Service and really need more nurses on the wards - but a "manager" is pulling in 4x the salary of a nurse. And is incapable both of dealing with a bed pan OR dealing with a crisis requiring some managerial skills]. Maybe, in deference to the planetary abyss into which we are carefully not staring [far too frightening after all] we should do anything soonest that will save electricity because that will impact our carbon footprint the most. Because Carbon Footprint will trample us all to death.

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