Solar Powered Motoring

Thanks to ticking a little box somewhere in a signup process that signified me as the kind of eco-conscious person who does not want to see our planet burn-up and die due to excessive use of envelopes, each week my power company sends me an e-statement detailing exactly how much further into electrical debt I and the currently Mrs Grimley have plunged. A neat little feature of this is a little graph which tracks our power consumption and lets us know by how much our usage has varied from the previous seven days; usually it’s no more than a couple of percent each way, so you can imagine my shock to find that this week we had outdone ourselves to the tune of 1057%.

After climbing off the floor and double checking I hadn’t been sent a report on the historical rate of inflation in Zimbabwe, I sat down and did a few calculations. Admittedly we were out of the country for a couple of days, but even with that taken into account things weren’t adding up until I remembered the heat pump.

Get in. Drive. Tama-nui-te-rā demands it.

Thanks to the Antarctic blast that swept the country and brought single figure temperatures to the inside of Grimley Towers, our usual strategy of simply adding more layers was abandoned in favour of the mechanical wonder that has sat patiently unused on our wall since we moved in last December. This was a good move in the sense that it allowed me to walk around in my stubbies and get full enjoyment from chilled beer, but in hindsight it would have been far better on the bank balance to find heat from other sources. Like shivering.

But it got me thinking that if it is so easy to unintentionally eat up beer money just by keeping warm, then it may not be a bad idea to investigate other aspects of our life that might be haemorrhaging dineros.

Naturally, after the house, it seemed only logical to turn my attention to the car and several hours were spent poring over it in the garage removing the unnecessary and surprisingly heavy clutter that had been accumulated. A rough estimate tells me that I’d been carrying the equivalent of a fat Labrador around in defunct sporting equipment, pie wrappers and CD cases.

Unfortunately it turns out that all my efforts have been completely in vain, because while shedding kilos may add up to a cup of petrol here and there, real fuel economy is actually controlled by the sun.

Given my recent need to work slightly beyond normal hours I have, by and large, missed the gradual lengthening of the days. By the time I get around to hauling myself out of the office, night is either well on its way or has very definitely arrived; but thanks to a sneaky Friday finish, things were different today.

Ra was still very much in evidence and his rays warmed not only my skin, but thrilled something primeval inside me with that first wonderful sensation that spring had finally come. Basking in the celestial glow made me feel deeply happy and there is nothing like a bit of a natural high, in conjunction with a Supergrass CD turned up slightly too loud (By the way New Zealand, how did they only get the pretty average “Sun Hits The Sky” into the Rock 1000? Shame on you all – the campaign for “Richard III” entering the chart next year starts now) to add extra poundage to a persons right foot.  Although I didn’t realise quite how much poundage until I received a text from a friend questioning why she had just been passed at exactly the legal speed limit* by a BMW containing a one man party.

So as much as the little do-gooder on the Energy Spot adverts may bleat on about saving money, the simple fact is this; the Sun Gods want us to get out there and drive like we are bloody well enjoying it. And seeing as I’m going to need a nice long summer to elevate my surfing to a level even approaching competence, then I for one will be doing everything in my power to pay homage to their wishes.

Fortunately I don’t get weekly updates on my petrol consumption.

*this may not be entirely true

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