It's been a while and, like so many, it's been an especially difficult time, as we've experienced the loss of a loved one. This week we want to thank you for all your messages of love and support - they mean so much and have kept us going.
We're back with a new episode focusing on energy and looking at the ways it can be collected, stored and distributed in-line with the government's sustainability and carbon zero goals.
We discuss everything from solar panels and smart meters to electric vehicles and the future of travel, so join us and don't forget to contact us with any comments or thoughts you have regarding the episode.
We love to hear from you!
Sarah-Jayne and Dean
Dean Gratton 0:01
Welcome to Tech uncorked. I'm Dean Gratton, and I'm Sarah-Jayne Gratton. And together we explore a new world of technology and innovation with lively discussion and some great interviews. It's been a while since we've been here a few weeks. And that's because like, most people, we know, we've suffered a loss in the family. And we know many people have in these challenging times. But it's it is very hard as
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 0:30
You think, it's happening elsewhere. And when it actually hits home, and it becomes personal to you, then.
Dean Gratton 0:39
Yeah, it knocks you for six. It's been it's been a very difficult time. And we can empathise with anyone who's gone through a similar period, which is incredibly difficult to deal with.
But we're back and this week we're talking about Energy!
Whether that's renewable energy, sustainability, all those wonderful keywords that have been knocked around for, for the past 10 years or so. And understanding how you are using new ways of providing energy for yourselves, whether that's adopting solar panels, whether that's using a heat or an air source, heating system, ground. In our house in Cambridgeshire, we have no gas in the village. So heating tthe house and the water was very challenging. We had an immersion heater to heat the water and we had what's called a GEC night store 100 system that would use economy seven tariff of seven hours where it would heat up during the evening and night, and then disperse this heat during the day, but it becomes so inefficient, and power hungry. Our bills were astronomical, those are astronomical, and we were never warm. And we Yeah, I mean, it would be four hours of the morning would heat the house and then that would be it.
It would have to drain new energy from the main grid to actually heat the house but it was so ineffective at doing so I remember walking around and actually seeing my breath inside the house and thinking this is not good. Because the energy was so expensive, the electricity to power this unit was so expensive, we thought Oh, okay, let's, let's choose solar panels. And we got solar panels installed with batteries as an option, which was great, but it still didn't really overcome the issues with this ineffective heating system. We continued to research and we came across two options- one called air source and the other ground source. Ground source is beneficial from from the renewable heat energy incentive, which was provided by the government because you chose a heating system which has carbon zero effect doesn't use gas or oil or anything, it's carbon zero, so they provide you a benefit for choosing such a system.
We could also replace the immersion heater which will give us the hot water and of course with the system we had the and we had three levels so on the top floor was the master bedroom with the with the shower and so on and so on. And we actually use a pump with the immersion heater to shift the water upstairs. But the actual system with this air source allowed us to provide mains pressured water across the house because the actual unit the cylinder that we installed which was which effectively became the brains of the whole entire system would distribute the water upstairs. mains pressured and elsewhere around the house means pressured and it was such a tired it. I know it's a first of all problem but the joy of having means pressured hot water in the house. was so wonderful. It was so good. And it really made the place feel like home actually having heat. It got to the point where we decided to do the whole thing with the smart home technology we installed a nest thermostat which was connected to the to the heating system. And it would monitor set temperatures and all this kind of stuff. So it would it use weather compensation to to check the weather outside to adjust the temperature of the of the radiators, and vice versa, and so on and so on. And, of course, you could set the heating system with Amazon Echo, I won't say her name because she's right there!
It was wonderful. And having such a heating system and effective heating system made the house actually warm, which we would use to know. So really, yeah, it just it was it became uncomfortable because it was so warm. I mean, complaining about that is insane. And so we would often set the temperature is lowest, which was 16 degrees Celsius. And we did notice a huge difference and a benefit to our, to our bills. So in the summer months, with the solar panels, we were hardly paying anything. And of course, conversely, in the winter months, the the price will go up slightly. But overall, it would compensate and balance itself out over the year, it was very good. I think one thing I'd say to anybody thinking about getting solar panels is you have to think in terms of of a new way of using the energy available. because traditionally, when we had the old system, you know, it was all off peak at night. with solar panels, you want to do your washing, you want to do your drying, you want to do your dishwashing, when the sun is shining, and you've got maximum amount of energy coming in, into the property. So it's kind it did take a while to get my head around, oh, oh, sun shining, 11 o'clock in the morning, midday, let's get that washing on. Because that's that's going to save you money. So that's just a little tip to anybody thinking about. The other caveat to that is that you whilst you're having the energy coming into the household courtesy of the sun, you should only use one appliance at a time. So you put the washing on, because that washing machine will use that energy. Yes. Once that cycle is finished, then put your dryer on. So don't use the your appliances simultaneously. Yeah, because you're likely to use more energy than the the sun or your panels are generating from the sun. So yes, Another good tip there. But it's so interesting the ways that technology sustainable technology is is changing people's lives for the better. And, you know, helping to keep costs down, helping the environment of course, and we're all pushing forward towards those goals the government has set, the government changes every five minutes. I mean, for example, with smart metering, which was supposed to help with your energy consumption, the rollout was going to be achieved by 2020. Yep. We did learn of later that this will be pushed out to 2024. And no, no doubt with the pandemic and the the issues that are going on right now. That's going to be pushed out further, which is absolutely fine. But smart metres are our helping people to monitor and reduce their their bills. Well, yes, they naturally they would help people monitor what's going on in the household as to whether or not it helps reduce the bills. I suppose if people are that conscious and aware of what's going on, and how they using their appliances in their home, then they can choose to use their appliances at different times of the day. But then that's that would only be a benefit if they have an economy seven tariff, where they can defer or set a timer and their dishwasher to wash at night during that period. My cousin Judy said to me that having a smart metre made her aware of how much power was consumed what when things were in standby on standby. And by actually turning off, the things that were normally on standby she was saved saved an enormous amount. And it was her smart metre that made her aware of that. But it's something we chose to do so because we so we did the whole the SOS thing, the solar panel thing. Fortunately, we did other work in the house. And part of that work was to have electrical work done. And we had various items in the house where we could actually choose to switch it off completely. So for example, our TV system or cinema room, we could choose to have that completely shut off. We made that decision not to have anything on standby. It's amazing how much power thinks do you use? You don't think about that. You think if you've you know see that little red dot it's not not really doing anything. But yeah, it is still taking power.
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 9:55
The red eye of doom?
Well, for me, it I'm still out as to whether or not the whole smart metre thing will help. Because the great thing about the economy 70 is that you can defer your appliances to start up particular times when they can do that with your drying or washing machine or dishwasher. Which, okay, that does that those of you that that the benefit of energy use of reduced energy use, but with the energy companies, the big six, they will be looking to replace the economy seven, they want you to want on different terrorists. I mean, I spoke to one supplier, where they were looking to introduce a three tiered tariff, where they would offer you different rates during the day. But at the peak rate when energy is used the most, I think it was from four o'clock in the afternoon to seven o'clock in the evening. Where the that's the peak use across the UK. And they wanted to introduce that as a premium tariff. Well, that's a bit of a booger, because I mean, kids get home from school, you finish your work as that's when you got your electric oven on cooking the pizza or whatever nonsense you've got in the oven. I mean, that it's a big period of time when you're going to need to use it anyway. So I don't understand that mentality
Dean Gratton 12:57
doing all this stuff. Well, that's great. But we need to see the battery really change and evolve. We need to see it, we need to see these cars do 200 miles to 300 500 miles, we need to really see it and the actual charging time when you have exhausted part of your your most of your battery in the car, and you go to your service station. You don't be waiting there for hours, five hours.
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 13:25
No, there are vehicles. Now. I don't know if you've read about this, but there's a vehicle electric car. I don't know how far it goes on this, but you can plug it in, and it will charge in five minutes. And it's ready to go fully, fully, fully, fully charged and fully, fully, fully.
Dean Gratton 13:43
Well, that's fantastic. Yeah. What's the range of that? Do you remember?
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 13:45
Yeah, I don't know. If anybody knows that, please let us know. Yes, please. That would be great. But no, it's I think it's meant to be a sort of a second car shopper, charged up, pop down to the shops. I don't I don't think it's meant to be a sort of grand adventure vehicle. You know, you go off on a road trip. I think it is meant to be a very practical second car. But it mean, if you're able to do that now with a small car charger in five minutes, it won't be long before the larger cause in practice that perhaps they already can be charged very, very quickly. I don't think the four hours is the case anymore.
Dean Gratton 14:23
That's great. I mean, I'm thinking now about taking the car up just to go down the shop. We often use Waitrose to deliver our goods to the house. Do we need to get in the car actually back Do we need our car?
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 14:36
Well, it depends where you live, doesn't it because we don't but say many people who either don't have access to online shopping deliveries living in the rural areas and some of them still don't or actually just getting out of the house for a trip in a you know during lockdown. It's just been a joy, to have an excuse to leave the house in the car to get groceries. So We don't, we don't want to become agoraphobic due to due to the virus.
Dean Gratton 15:06
And I mean, I personally think electric cars Well, I don't think I know. We know electric cars of the future 2030 or their cars will be
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 15:17
electric. Now we have driven Jaguars for 20 years, and we love the power,
and also the sounds, that's gonna be really strange to anybody that drives the car and it's got that room,
Dean Gratton 15:31
especially with a V eight.
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 15:32
Yeah, when you plug in when you turn the key,and hear nothing.
Dean Gratton 15:43
It's not nothing, but it's entirely true. Because when we when we had our first jag A long time ago now, yeah. And it was a lovely thing. The Xj was lovely. And I remember walking and walking, driving down at an area which was ordinarily pedestrianised, but we could actually drive down there. And we did so slowly. They couldn't hear the car, even though it was a V eight. They couldn't hear the engine.
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 16:10
Yeah, that's true. But you said to me recently that you hear the electric cars go by because you hear the sound of the tires. You don't hear?
Dean Gratton 16:20
Well, we have cobblestones here. So, and I heard I did hear electric car travel where you can hear the hum of the car itself. But because it's tires, were hitting the cobblestones, you could either put a little bit of wood.
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 16:34
But you knew, it was electric.
Dean Gratton 16:36
I but I knew it was Yeah, distinctly electric because of the ham. Like almost like a high pitch. It wasn't annoying, the pitch. But you could hear it just made a different sound altogether. And this is something we're going to experience more and more and rightly. So.
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 16:51
It'll be interesting to find out more. And one of our neighbours is thinking of getting an electric car. So I will report on her experience if when she tests rise, because she's asked me to go with her. So that will be an interesting experience to test drive with her little electric car and find out more. Because this is something we haven't tried ourselves we don't know that much about. It's an area where we are keen to learn more about the technologies that are advancing and evolving the electric car market
Dean Gratton 17:22
and where we're heading, it's for me, it's the battery
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 17:25
to the battery.
Dean Gratton 17:25
That's all down to the battery. That's it for me. And also going to the solar panels again, I remember going to Norway went to Paris for a show for energy show how good it was many years ago. And they were talking about how all houses, modern houses today should be built with solar panels. And how if you building up a say, for example, a newest state, we say maybe 80 houses on that estate, every house in that estate should have solar panels. And that's a state would have a community hub of batteries. Yep. Which would, which would charge during the day charge perhaps on economy so and tariffs are a cheap tariff. I remember this Yeah. And then of course, when all the households exhausted that energy from both the sun and the batteries, then it would only tap into the grid. But for intensive purposes, it would sustain itself, mostly on the sun, or the batteries that had been charged on a cheap tariff, ultimately not to draw from the grid constantly. Another idea?
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 18:39
Yeah, it's a fantastic idea. And I wonder if that's something that's sweet, we will look into that and report back as to whether or not that's something that's already happening, because I think it's a great idea.
Dean Gratton 18:49
Well, I know we did over here on the train on the Eurostar going to Paris, how in America, they are taking that philosophy, which is surprising to hear giving the previous administration how all houses are being built with energy in mind, and solar panels are there as default. Yeah. And I think that's brilliant. And I'm wondering why Europe and the UK, because we're two separate things now aren't doing the same?
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 19:22
Yeah, an interesting question. An interesting question. If anybody knows any more information about that, please share with us because we're fascinated by this. And it's great to be back. And just on a personal note, want to thank you all for the many messages of support you sent through to us
Dean Gratton 19:42
Kind words. Thank you
Sarah-Jayne Gratton 19:42
It really was such a boost to receive such incredible feedback and support during this difficult time. So I think that's it for today. Yeah. Thanks so much for listening. And we'll be back very soon. with another episode
Transcribed by https://otter.ai