My best investment!

Where can you get a return of over 10%  on an investment, tax free,  in these days of almost zero interest rates and low inflation? Well, the answer is up on my roof! Yes, solar panels.

IMG_8249A couple of years ago, we took the plunge and made enquiries about the practicalities of installing panels on top of our rather tall house. We had it surveyed and were delighted to hear that the roof would be an ideal location. It faces south south east and is at the rear of the house so the panels would not be visible from the road. It was calculated that 14 panels would generate 3000 kwh per year and that they would pay for themselves within seven years. So we went ahead and placed the order. Scaffolding was required for the installation but, nevertheless, the total bill only came to £6600.

That was in the autumn of 2014 so I’ve now got almost three year’s worth of bills and statements to assess the economic viability of the installation.

Firstly, our electricity bills have decreased substantially because we use, free of charge, any electricity we generate during the day. OK – we’ve changed our routines a little. The washing machine and dishwasher are used during the day, never at night. Hot water on tap (see what I did there!) so that we only occasionally need a boost from the immersion heater. Comparing our last twelve months consumption to the final twelve months prior to panels being installed, we have saved over £180 in hard cash!

But the more obvious benefit is the money that is paid in to our bank every quarter. We get paid money for generating electricity – called the Feed In Tariff. All excess electricity generated by our panels is fed back down the cables into the grid and we get paid for it. So every morning, when I open the curtains and see the sun shining, I know that my bank balance is going to benefit!. Again another calculation reveals over the last twelve months I’ve been paid £483 by way of FIT.

So, combining the Feed In Tariff and the savings on my bills, I have received a total of £667 in the last twelve months, a tad over 10% return on my investmnt. Beat that if you can! Of course, there’s an environmental benefit to this as well. The specification for our installation also calculated that the panels would save over 1.6 tonnes of CO2 over the life (25 years ) of the panels. That makes me feel even better.

Which all prompts me to ask the obvious question – why am I in the minority. Why on earth doesn’t everyone put panels on their roofs? Go on – you can see it makes sense!

Plastic Bag update – plus another issues.

tesco logoAfter my post a few days ago about Tesco withdrawing 5p single use plastic bags, I’ve had time to do a bit of research on other supermarkets plastic bag policies. And it has raised a couple of interesting other issues!

Trawling the web has been an fascinating exercise. As far as I can discover, we have six supermarkets locally.aldi logo

lidl logoTop marks must go to Aldi, Lidl and Tesco who have withdrawn the 5p bags and will sell sturdier re-usable bags.

Bottom of the class are Morrisons, Sainsburys and Asda who continue to provide the single use plastic bags.  Pressure is required to encourage these three to play catch up!

But the journey around my Google searches threw up a couple of other issues which were raised on several websites and in numerous forums.

Firstly, there were numerous complaints about the number of plastic bags being used in Home Delivery schemes – instances of single items being placed in a bag and numerous images of loads of bags for a single delivery only partly filled. Questions were raised as to whether these bags were being declared as having been ‘sold’ bearing in mind that the stores were charging a set delivery charge.

And secondly, several correspondents raised the seemingly simple question “If a scheme can be devised for plastic carrier bags, why not for plastic bottles?” Do you remember paying a deposit on your bottle of Corona Dandelion and Burdoch? You never threw those bottles away! And if you did the local kids would retrieve them and get the money back. So simple! Of course it could work.

My new Bus Pass arrived today

One of the advantages of growing old is that I qualify for a bus pass! Yes, you know you’ve made it when you can hop on any bus and just flash a piece of plastic to go wherever  you want without paying!

bus passI’ve had one ever since I retired. Over the years I’ve used it many times and never cease to be puzzled why more people do not get one. I suppose I’m fortunate in that I live in Stone, a small market town midway between Stoke–on -Trent and Stafford and in the middle of the FirstBus 101 service. So I can head north to Newcastle and Hanley or south to Stafford. The Stafford journey is brilliant. A direct route down the A34 and I can be in Stafford almost as quickly as by car.  And you can get off at three or four different stops around the town. No parking problems! No parking charges! And a bus every twenty minutes. How can you beat that? Continue reading “My new Bus Pass arrived today”

Good News from Tesco!

No sooner have I got to grips with the complexities of WordPress in order to create this site than the topic for my first blog leaps off the news channels at me  – Tesco has announced it is to end the sale of  5p single use plastic carrier bags!


Tesco has just carried out a ten week trial in three stores across the country and achieved a 25% reduction in the sale of bags. This has encouraged Tesco to roll out the ban across all its stores at the end of the month. Customers are encouraged to take their own shopping bags or to purchase a sturdier ‘bag for life’ for 10p which Tesco will renew when worn out. This policy, incidentally, brings it into line with Aldi who have always had such a scheme. Continue reading “Good News from Tesco!”

Every Little Bit Helps

Hello my name is Richard Stevens. As you can see, I’m getting on a bit!

Richard StevensI’ve had a good life and I’ve seen a lot of changes. Some good – some not so good and some that really worry me. By that, I mean that the older I get the more concerned I become about the future of our planet. Almost every day I am reminded of the damage that we human beings are doing to the world – global warming, melting ice caps, air pollution, oceans full of our plastic waste, our continued appetite for timber from tropical rain forests – and nearer to home, our love affair with the internal combustion engine, the obscene amount of food wasted every day, the slow uptake of recycling schemes etc. I could go on. 

Now I have seven amazing grandchildren and I want them to have long and happy lives. But unless we do something now I hate to think what state the planet will be in when they reach my age. Continue reading “Every Little Bit Helps”