Archive for July, 2011

Saving Money at home Part 2

Posted on July 31st, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

When I last talked about saving money at home I talked about installing the OWL electric monitoring system and did a small video about it.  In this next video I’m talking about how to start and save some money at home using the data I’m collecting from the monitor.

This video I talk about how I’m installing some new plugs that will turn off anything attached to it rather than being on standby all the time.

The plugs I used in the video above were bought from ebay and were basically the cheapest I could find after hunting around for 10 minutes.  They are not a big solution on how to reduce the amount of energy we use through the day but it should slow the amount used through the night as we will no longer have baby monitors on, TV /Wii and my Hard Drive backup device all running on standby.

Morning energy usage


This picture shows the amount of electric we are using first thing in the morning.  At the moment with the TV, Wii and various other devices left on / standby throughout the night I’m hoping there should be a slight drop when I first wake up.

I’m not expecting the reading to go much lower and I may have to connect the OWL monitor to the PC and look at the actual night usage of electric to really see if there is any difference.

I’ve installed the plugs so it will be a case of having a check in the morning to see whether anything is different but of course I will report back with any and all findings!


Later in the week I will be looking at further ways to try and help reduce the amount of electric we use in the house, without spending a lot of money this is a uphill battle to save money but hopefully the results should, in the long run save some money for me.. and you.

Electric and Solar Cars

Posted on July 30th, 2011 in Green Cars by JP No Comments

I keep coming across news about the solar car ‘World Solar Challenge’ where you enter in a 3000 km race where the car is totally solar powered.

The cars at the moment will never (or at least in my life time) go in to mass production as they are not good enough in anyway but the concept of a solar powered car is something that may start hitting the streets.

At the moment we of course have the fully electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and of course hybrid cars and it’s getting to the point that most of the main car makers are trying to get in to this market area.  What you don’t see and I really don’t know why is a fully electric car with built in solar panels to charge the batteries.

I know Toyota have the hybrid car the prius and a optional extra is a solar panel roof which will help run the air conditioning unit for the car so the question is why are the ‘all’ electric cars not actually running solar panels to help recharge the batteries?

There seems to be a few cars that do seem to be adopting ‘build in solar panel’ for the car but I would of thought this would of been high on the list for the new green cars.

To me having build in solar panels on all electric cars would make some sense, I would not expect the solar panels to keep the batteries fully charged but surely it would help them to gain a little extra charge.  It should, in theory, give the all electric cars a slightly better range (although depending on solar panel size it might not be very far) but it would also help with charging times and cost by reducing both of these.

Perhaps in the near future when the solar panels and batteries get better they might be a little more common as lets face it, they should go hand in hand!

Saving Money at home – Update

Posted on July 28th, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

It’s been a few days since I first got / installed the OWL electric monitoring system and it’s been quite interesting although I have bored half my family talking about it!

The system was easy to install ( Saving Money at Home ) and I started collecting data right away.  Tonight I’ve finally got around to installing the software to read the data on the PC and I’ve managed to make some nice fancy pictures for you all to see!

The first picture just shows the usage since it’s been turned on (a few days) so it’s not really that interesting / offer a lot of information.

OWL electric system

Electric Usage


So as you can see the graph does not really show to much information at the moment other than we are using electric in the house.. so at least it’s working!

It does start to get more interesting once you go further ‘in to’ te graph and actually look at a full days use of electric.






OWL electric use for the 26 / 07

Graph showing the electric use for 1 day


As you can see from this graph the in information starts to make some sense when looking at it.  Of course from midnight till around 08:00 there is not a lot  happening which is to be expected.

From 08:00 onwards you can see that of course we started using up a lot more electric in the house.

The very large spike around 17:00 is of course tea time in the house.  I can’t remember what we had to eat but I do have a funny feeling we did use the oven, boiled the kettle for cups of tea and perhaps various other devices were switched on.

You can also see that once our son goes to bed (around 19:00) there is a bit of a drop before the energy usage starts to rise again.  I can only guess that this is the time we started watching TV, making cups of tea and turning on extra lights around the house.

Although it’s still early in the ‘How to save money at Home’ series the graph is also very similar on the following day so I can already start to see a trend happening in our house.

I’ll be starting in another video soon titled ‘How to Save Money at Home Part 2′ where I will start to look at what I can do around the house to keep the energy use down.

Electric charge points on our motorways

Posted on July 27th, 2011 in Green Cars, Green News by JP No Comments

The company Ecotricity is going to be installing electric power points at Welcome Break services on the main motorways between London and Edinburgh.  It will be a bit of a welcome addition for electric car owners as with still having a fairly hopeless rang the electric car was never one for people who need to drive long distances.

The electric car has come a long way since it was first created but really still has a long way to go before the UK will / can adopt the idea as a real solution to petrol / diesel cars.

We are still faced with some big limitations, one being the useless range a electric car has and two the time it takes to fully charge the battery.

As time goes on though the range is starting to get a bit longer with some cars showing a 100+ mile range and the charging time is starting to reduce but until they get to more realistic figures I can’t see the electric car taking off as it should!

I guess the other biggest factor with electric cars is the price… basically they are very expensive with many costing £16,000 (ish) for the basic model which can then rise to … well far to much more!

I would like to have a electric car but with many of my car journeys being 165 miles (from my house to where my holiday caravan is located) having a electric car is just not feasibly.. more so as I also have a 2 year old son and I refuse to wait a couple of hours for the car to charge, he would drive me insane!!

SolarGorilla review

Posted on July 25th, 2011 in Solar Panel Reviews by JP No Comments

I’ve had the SolarGorilla now for a few months and I’ve been trying and testing this portable solar panel unit on my travels within the UK.

The device is a nice unit in the build quality and functionality but is totally let down by the fact it does not really work in the UK.  I’ve done a short video talking about my experiences so I hope you enjoy it.

If you have watched the clip above then thank you for watching! I would of liked to said better things about the Solargorilla but I could not get it to work very well.

I will be looking at further products to review so if you do have some suggestions please leave a comment and let me know!

Saving Money at home Part 1 – Electric Monitor

Posted on July 24th, 2011 in Money Saving by JP No Comments

We all know that the price of gas and electric is going up in the UK so I’m starting a number of tests to see how we can cut our costs without sending to much money.

My first task is monitoring the use of the electric in my own house.  I’ve bought and installed a ‘owl electric monitoring’ system which, as it says, monitors the electric use in the house in real time.  Below you can see a short video about how the system installs and what I’ll be using it for:

I will run and monitor the amount of electric for a few days to try and establish a base line of how much electric we use in the house.  The house is a 3 bedroom detached, double glazing, central heating, washing machine, tumble dryer, fridge freezer etc.

There is also living in the house myself, wife and 2 year old son.  As I work from home ( JPSZ ltd ) I also run a standard PC, 2 monitors, printer and backup hard drive.  The PC is on from first thing in the morning till very late.

In a sense it is a ‘normal’ house but working from home does mean I ‘should’ use more electric than most.

Over time I will be reporting back with findings and real data on how much electric certian devices save (or don’t save) in the house.  This will be made easy as the owl system can connect to the PC and I’ll be able to download the data and share it here.

change is here

Posted on July 21st, 2011 in Web Site News by JP No Comments

If you have been to this site before you will notice some changes (large changes) are happening.  We have had the site redesigned with a new template which is being placed over the next couple of days.

Our directory of Solar Panel suppliers is still working as normal though but we have moved our ‘nature blog’ to the front.

The main reason for the change is the amount of work which will be going into the blog over the coming months / year.  We have lined up a number of tests and reviews with a larger on going review / test on how we can all save money at home by using various cost cutting and green methods.

Part one of the “money saving and green” test will be up shortly, this will not only include various posts and pictures but also video which will follow the progress.

We hope you enjoy the new template and we look forward to helping everyone save some money at home with the help of Power By