Energy, energy…E=mc²

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Energy efficiency in my house, and with my writing, has been the theme of my past week. However, even finding out about it has totally zapped up my physical and emotional reserves. Making the PLAN happen isn’t so straightforward.

We’ve recently had an energy efficiency survey done of our house and our knuckles were well and truly rapped. Making my house super-energy-efficient isn’t possible but there are improvements I can make – given time and whole bundle of cash. Certain improvements will boost the household energy efficiency rating and will reduce its carbon footprint. That’s really important nowadays.

It sounds brilliant, but guess what? The PLAN isn’t a case of take one step at a time. There’s a SEQUENCE fairy out in my garden just waiting to wave her wand before saying ‘Stop, not that one! This improvement has to come first.’

20150128_113722The main front part of my house is an 1820s, solid granite building under the white rendering you see in the photo. Granite is the typical building material in my part of Scotland, Aberdeenshire having a lot of granite quarries that were exploited in centuries gone past. The three-feet thick walls are built to withstand serious howling gales but there has come a time when its ancient roof slates are saying ‘enough is enough’. The slater comes annually to replace slates that have come loose or have fallen off, but I’m sad to say that after such a long time my roof is SICK. ‘Nail sick’ means it’s getting more difficult to pin back slates that come loose. Not a very energy efficient situation because a roof over one’s head (that doesn’t leak) is a useful thing!

I had considered that if my roof needs to be replaced, or I need to have serious repairs done, does it make sense to have PV solar panels (photovoltaics) put in, panels which would generate electricity for my household needs and would be very good for the environment? In Scotland, there’s a major drive on by the government to encourage people to install solar power, a nice green energy production. I’d love to put a big √ on that one. There’s the added bonus that any surplus electrical power generated by an individual house that’s not used can be sold back to the grid- thus making a small profit for the householder.

20150122_101319Sounds like a fantastic idea but… it turns out that my roof style creates too many shaded areas and it doesn’t face directly south- South-south east isn’t good enough! South facing and no shading are  needed for maximum solar energy trap. So, I’m told that I don’t have a suitable roof for putting solar panels on and I’d likely need to cut down my favourite silver birch since the minimal shade it would shed on any panels would make them even more inefficient. Okay, so, maybe roof repairs can go ahead but no solar panels.

However, I can put in ground mounted solar PV panels though that will reduce my garden space by a large chunk. I’m thinking about that one because that would mean no garden chores in that area and more time for writing! *insert smiley face* √ Big tick soon?

Oh, NO!  There’s that SEQUENCING thing again! To get the maximum tariff return on any extra electricity generation that might be produced I need to do the inside of my house energy efficiency measures first! What? Apparently – Yes. I do.

So what are they? Install low energy light bulbs? Already done. √ More roof insulation added. Not done yet, but soon. Similarly for lining the under floor area in my lounge, that’s possible since there’s a cellar below. Interior solid wall insulation? That will have to be done room by room: a lot of redecoration needed afterwards. I have 2 operating coal fires which I love, but they’re very energy inefficient. 80% of the heat goes up the chimney when a fire is lit using up precious fossil fuels like coal or wood. fire 7

Multi-fuel stoves look like they might be in my future –  though not before the solid wall insulation is installed on those fireplace walls. That SEQUENCING thing again.

A new gas boiler/ furnace system for the central heating in the rooms will be much more efficient than my present oil-fired one – even though the price of oil across the globe has recently reduced. But since my efficiency measures are for the long term, I’ve requested gas to be laid into my house. Sadly, that might not happen for a number of weeks. So, which PLAN do I follow in the interim?

Please SEQUENCING fairy tell me what to do? *smiley face here* because I’m not actually despairing, but my budget is very small.

And what of my writing? Am I energy efficient with that? Last week’s writing slots vanished doing seemingly small tasks. However, I can tick some boxes.

√ I’d already used the services of a professional editor for my YA time-travel adventure. (sort of cheating here)

√ I’m now in discussion with a graphic designer who is going to make my cover image.

√ I’ve consulted with some of my author friends who’ve given me self-publishing advice – one of whom is our very own Cher’ley Grogg. Yippee! Cher’ley’s helped with SEQUENCING issues.

I’d thought to publish the ebook version of my YA novel on Amazon first because e-books are great on the carbon footprint trail. √ The paperback version’s not quite so good since it gobbles down those trees…but I really want to have some physical books for selling locally. With Cher’ley’s advice, I now know that the SEQUENCING of publishing a Createspace paperback version first can be followed by the immediate ebook publishing on Amazon,  so that’s my aim. The post – launch promotions could do with a very good and successful SEQUENCE as well, with lots of good energy put into them but right now I need to boost my own vigour before making that PLAN.  Have I got my writing roof on yet? Is that Amazon itself? Or do I need to employ some further insulation in the form of publishing elsewhere like Smashwords to make my venture more efficient and to provide more returns?

Now where did I put those budget sheets? Oh dear, they’re buried under mountains of brochures and estimates for all sorts of improvements.

My weekend is busy making more plans – how about you? Have fun whatever you’re doing!

Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures, contemporary mystery thrillers and YA time travel adventure. Watch this space next time for news about that PUBLISHING date for The Taexali Game.

Nancy Jardine Award Finalist The People's Book Prize 2014Find her writing at Amazon US


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