vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

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cmonkey
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:57 pm

So it's been a while. Wondering how that baby is doing. :)

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vexed87
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:21 am

@cmonkey, Yes sorry, it's been crazy at home, but finally we are coming up for air! DD is doing great, just over 6 months old now. We are very lucky compared to some other parents I know. We got a good sleeper! There are some exceptions but most nights DD sleeps 12-13 hours uninterrupted. She seems to be hitting her milestones consistently, preterm babies are often behind in hitting milestones, so that's reassuring.

DW hasn't taken her to a weigh in clinic for a month so no idea where she is up to on the weight charts presently, but last month she had reached the 25th percentile for her age, after understandably being much nearer the 5th percentile at birth (a source anxiety for both of us). She's already catching up in weight to the average baby, but she still has some way to go in that respect and will be on the smaller side for some time to come, nevertheless it's great progress and arriving early hasn't yet caused any notable health concerns. Some of the other baby's from the same unit in hospital are not doing so well in health and weight gains, so it just puts in perspective how fortunate we are.

Adjusting to the responsibility of parenthood is tough at times, definitely way more demanding than a puppy, but I think both being in our 30s we got our shit together and are mature enough not to be missing out on drinking in bars, dining out etc etc, adding a baby to daily life for us isn't that much of a burden. DW has taken to the role of mother extremely well. It also pays that she's the organised type! We are really enjoying having DD around, we are already at the stage where we couldn't imagine life without her at this point. DW has it much harder than me though, I'm at work full time whilst she is the full time carer for the first year, but once DW returns to work, I'm dropping down to part time until DD goes to school, at least that's the plan for now. That way I can spend more time with her. It hard going to work in the morning knowing I'll only see DD for 30-60 minutes in the evening before bath/bedtime, so I'm living for the weekends for the time being. :roll:

Dropping to part time will delay FI somewhat, but hey ho. I'll think of it as semi-retirement! DW has seen a notable decrease in her spending on account of being housebound a lot, having resources in the kitchen and having less expenses related to eating out, entertainment, clothing, travelling to/from work, but she is now actively trying to get out more, tough to do so in wintery weather with a tiny baby, but it's getting easier now DD can sit happily in a sling and snowsuit! DD loves the outdoors, we go walking a lot when the weather is agreeable!

DW and I have been batch cooking all DDs food. DWs frugal side is shining much more lately too. I've been really impressed with the measures she taken to reduce spending as her own income has dropped to basically 0, its been a bit of an eyeopener for her, and has made the case for reducing spending to retire earlier much easier for her to grok, now the link between what is affordable whilst earning and spending is broken.

How far on is Mrs cmonkey now? Have you shared the due date on your journal? Sorry I haven't stopped by in a while, what with the baby and all ;)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:32 am

I'm glad you guys are doing so well given the challenge of a pre-mature baby! Especially glad to hear that a baby can sleep for that long so consistently. It gives me hope for us! Our little girl is VERY active in utero so we are planning for an active baby.

DW and DD are both doing well and expected date is January 25. DW has no health issues at all and has gained a heathy amount of weight. She is 32 weeks this Friday and estimated weight is 4 lbs 5 oz from yesterday. She's growing consistently too, hanging on to the 69th percentile at each visit.

I looked back at your birth announcement and I see we are now right at the point where your baby came so this naturally unsettled me a bit, even more so give some recent findings with our baby. Nothing serious but its been a rather stressful couple of weeks. I'll give an update later this week in my journal so I don't derail yours.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:54 am

I'm glad to hear they're both doing well considering - I'll keep my eyes peeled!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by FBeyer » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:09 pm

vexed87 wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:21 am
...Adjusting to the responsibility of parenthood is tough at times...
Mine is 5 years old by now, and I'm still not ready for fatherhood :lol:

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Energy saving special

Post by vexed87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:31 pm

I was going to post this over in the energy use log thread, but then it got a bit lengthy and I figured I've neglected my journal of late anyway, hey, I'm still alive /waves...

In my spare time, I think about very little outside collapse and sustainability these days, I think I even dream about it, so with that in mind it's time to put some money where my mouth is. 2019 is going to be a year of action. No, that's not a resolution to be forgotten about by March. :D

Energy saving special update

I have a few confessions to make after revisiting my post there in June 2017...

I haven't yet weather stripped the house, I noticed after the initial post most windows were done before we moved in so that reduced some urgency, but some strips need replacing now they are showing their age and the front door still needs doing, I did buy a roll with best intentions, I need to get motivated! It's just a case of cutting desired length with scissors and pulling off the sticky plastic covering for goodness sake, the inaction is inexcusable! :lol:

The dog ripped off the inner letterbox draught excluder in the spring... (he hates the postman!) I couldn't find a replacement at the time and forgot to sort it before winter set it, it wouldn't go back together because the chassis is ruined, we may get a new front door when the dog karks it, but that could be 6 years or more unless some tragedy were to befall him, the claw marks on the door all but have ruined it. Hah :evil: :roll: . I could also do with covering the keyhole somehow too, but need access internally still. Just the front door is leaking huge amounts of air, you can feel the draft 5 meters away on a breezy day and I swear it makes the whole ground floor feel cold, even if the ambient temp is 18C. Any DIY/bodge ideas for those ladies and gents?

We DID swap out halogen bulbs for LEDs, with a couple exceptions, rooms and appliances that are hardly used didn't get the upgrade. Because I whipped out so many functional bulbs (mostly halogen and a couple florescent energy saving type) we've been re-using them in the infrequently used downstairs toilet, garage and conservatory rather than throwing them out. Unlike the rest of the house, the kitchen seems to have an excessive amount of light sockets for such a small space, 7 in total. I haven't yet successfully trained DW to turn off lights when leaving the room (despite best attempts and persistent pleas). The light rails are adjustable, so with a bit of positional tweaking, I was able to remove 3 bulbs without making the room noticeably darker by focusing the light where it's needed most. DW still hasn't noticed, but when left on, the lighting in that room now use 42% less energy :lol:

And... to offset any savings, we recently acquired a tumble dryer (I know, I know!) on account of the ridiculous amount of drying you need to do once you have a baby that throws up, pees and poops on everything. We don't have room to use 3x clothes horses without turning the house into an obstacle course, its too cold at 53.8N to dry outdoors in the winter. The dryer is used sparingly though, all my own clothes are dried on the horse by a radiator.

I also added a mini fridge to the garage, to keep beers cool in the summer but it's cheap to run, well insulated and opened so rarely I swear the compressor kicks in only once a twice a day for a few brief moments. I mentally justified it to myself in case I decided to build a DIY solar system so I could refrigerate on a much small scale than the main fridge freezer in the event of grid down... I haven't gotten around to seriously planning that yet. I may never do. It's been off since October now the garage is cool enough to chill beers from ambient temps alone. It will remain switched off until spring arrives.

I've literally just run around the house and reduced the time to auto-off on everything with that feature to combat DWs efforts to warm the planet.
2x TVs (One 300W, the other 100W) now switch off after an hour inactivity.
1x Sound system (150W) same
2x PCs (1 tower 80-220W depending on usage), 1 laptop 20-25W) Screens off after 5 minutes, sleep after 10, hibernate after 30, both down to 1-2W when hibernating.

Space heating is suboptimal, but DW insists on it and with a baby in the house, I kind of agree, I have taken measures to reduce waste. The thermostat rarely goes above 16C, it looks like I won thermostat wars after all, DD no longer complains. It doesn't go higher unless we have guests or we suspect DD is poorly. The mother in law does not get special treatment, when she's around the thermostat doesn't budge! :lol:. I also added a thermostatic switch to the conservatory's 2000W electric fan heater that keeps being left on unattended (by she who will not be named!) Surprisingly it hasn't got one built in and makes the room obscenely hot if not managed manually. Infuriating. I'm thinking about installing those fire door contraptions that shut doors behind you for rooms that are used infrequently, the radiator thermostatic valves are turned low in the spare room and kitchen when not occupied, but leaving those doors open results in warmer air leaking in when not used rendering the efforts with the thermostats pointless.

Aside from abstaining from kitchen appliances, TV, web-browsing and gaming, I can no longer think how we can reduce electricity consumption without switching to non-electric alternatives, i.e. burning wood fuel in an outdoor oven, rocket stove, etc. The low hanging fruit have truly been picked. These are resilience projects I have been thinking of implementing anyway, had DD not arrived last spring, I probably would have started working on them by now. I'm going to dig out my permaculture stash and plan the garden layout soon, and with a bit of luck and a solid business plan, DW will grant me permission to start tearing up the lawn in the spring! I'm not sure this is our forever home, so I haven't yet ripped out the natural gas burning fireplace. UK households have a strange obsession with these faux open fireplace alteratives, a hangover from after the war I think? I haven't seen these in houses on the continent or anywhere else?! I'd love a wood burner for added fuel resilience, but the gas flue isn't suitable for a wood burner, so it will involve extensive remodelling... but the delicious smokey scent makes me all tingly. I may pull the plug on that next year as we have little else in the way of home improvements left to entertain. I would hate to get caught with my metaphorical pants around my ankles should gas supplies become intermittent in a SHTF scenario. Putin may not always be so obliging to share his nat gas with us! :roll:

I'm in the process of doing a full energy audit in the house to see if I missed anything else obvious, tune in later for the results.
Last edited by vexed87 on Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:55 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Energy saving special

Post by jacob » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:50 pm

vexed87 wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:31 pm
Just the front door is leaking huge amounts of air, you can feel the draft 5 meters away on a breezy day and I swear it makes the whole ground floor feel cold, even if the ambient temp is 18C. Any DIY/bodge ideas for those ladies and gents?
A draft stopper. It's a piece of cloth sewn into a tube (arm's thick) the width of the door and placed at the bottom of the door. If you're clever, you can attach it to the door with double-sided velcro. Actual weather seal will work much better though.

Here's a cute example of the general principle: https://www.amazon.com/WHAT-EARTH-Dachs ... 07JYP8DQX/

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:03 pm

Sorry, I can't have explained well enough. The draft is mostly coming through where the old (but ineffective brass flap) draft excluder was positioned that covered the letterbox hole. Here in the UK, mail typically comes in through the front door, we don't have the stereotypical/iconic street side receptical/can things you get in the US. A similar setup to an external receptical would solve the problem as the letter box could be permanently sealed off (brainwave!). Aside, the keyhole is about 1.5cm diameter and you can really feel the breeze blowing through there too, but it can't be sealed off permanently as access is required to lock the door from the inside.

Letterbox looks like this: https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http ... 450%24&f=1

I have just seen keyhole covers, I did not know they existed. I'm going to have to work out how to fit one now, it doesn't seem as simple as it looks, because the euro style key hole protrudes from the door surface along with the handle fixture.
Last edited by vexed87 on Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by jacob » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:11 pm

Build a secondary box behind the slot and attach it to the door? This would also catch the mail.

For the keyhole, maybe a flap that slides to the side. Like this:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frelan-Chrome- ... 00746QAU2/

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:15 pm

I'll post some pictures tomorrow, that may help better than my poor explanation.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by jacob » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:27 pm

Meanwhile, check this out: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 6:47 pm

It is a funny coincidence you posted that. It was only the other day i was looking for this site, I had forgotten the URL. It's been a while since I last saw it. It shows how increasingly dependent we are on gas turbines with renewable intermittency and no energy storage capacity. Scary stuff given the closure of coal plants. Gas electricity generation capacity looks to be maxed out regularly. Supply shortages resulting from prolonged cold weather in Europe also affecting our electric imports could take down our grid easily if coal capacity falls much lower and demand isnt well managed. Presently heavy industry gets paid to just shut down. Fascinating! I think we came close last March IIRC.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:11 pm


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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:32 pm

I went through this a couple years ago and to not much avail. Reducing energy usage can be frustrating. Most of our usage comes from water heating, the stove and the geothermal system. Almost everything else combined costs less than the taxes and fees! So to reduce I'd have to implement some major lifestyle changes and with a DW in the picture it's difficult.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by tonyedgecombe » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:16 am

cmonkey wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:32 pm
with a DW in the picture it's difficult.
A common problem. :D

One of the things I did was to put a cheap digital thermometer in each room so we can get an objective measurement of the temperature. It's surprising how often it feels cold just because you have moved from a warm room or car and just need to adjust (or put a sweater on).

The obvious item you haven't mentioned is increased loft insulation, out of all the items I have left that's the only one that looks cost effective.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by chenda » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:18 pm

I think my grandparents had a thick curtain which they drew across the front door in the evenings which would have helped keep out drafts and heat in. (They also had one of those weird faux-fires, definitely a post-war thing :) A more expensive solution would be building a front porch.

Thinking there could be significant advantages to buying a pre-industrial era dwelling to deal with future energy shortages; open fires for cooking and heating, thick stone walls giving high thermal mass. What they were designed for.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by jacob » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:48 pm

chenda wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:18 pm
Thinking there could be significant advantages to buying a pre-industrial era dwelling to deal with future energy shortages; open fires for cooking and heating, thick stone walls giving high thermal mass. What they were designed for.
I am not convinced this is a good idea unless you have access to pre-industrial resources like easily sourced firewood, ... The problem with civilization is that one can not go back. In effect it's like climbing a ladder but removing/cannibalizing the steps below as one climbs up. This makes it as hard to climb down as it is to climb up. Just because the technology is easy and once existed, it doesn't mean that it's still viable. It's similar to the fantasy many enjoy in the US that in the event of a disaster, people will just hunt for their food. But there are way too many humans/too few animals to do that anymore. Is there enough trees in the UK to be able to afford burning wood again? Well, maybe there is. What about CCS considerations? Those trees might be required for other services.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by daylen » Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:17 pm

jacob wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:48 pm
Just because the technology is easy and once existed, it doesn't mean that it's still viable. It's similar to the fantasy many enjoy in the US that in the event of a disaster, people will just hunt for their food. But there are way too many humans/too few animals to do that anymore.
Who are we talking about here? Unless humans consume a particular resource to extinction, some humans will utilize it. Birds, small game(*), insects, rock/dirt/sand, and so forth may not be used exhaustively(**) due to the individual/group skill required to use them effectively, the inability to scale up production, and/or the sheer abundance. In general, once our current system cannot continue on because of scarcity then some of the lucky/skilled humans will scavenge the scraps.

Trees are unlikely to be completely wiped out and the seeds are easily transportable, therefore once civilization undergoes a phase transition people will start regenerating forests. Other things could happen, but I think that this is a viable yet localized outcome.

(*) ..squirrels, rats, raccoons, and so forth.

(**) ..and will likely survive ecosystem disruption.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by chenda » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:01 pm

@Jacob - no not as a macro solution, but at a micro level it could be useful and add some flexibility as a hedge against short term power disruption or to reduce the need to retrofit insulation in an inefficient building. I remember my primary school was comprised of a solid Victorian building and a 1960s extension; as you can guess the 60s bit had abysmal energy performance and was freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer.

Energy might deserve a separate thread least we hijack vexed's journal...

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by prognastat » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:24 pm

I suspect in many places, most of all those where guns are banned/heavily restricted that if forced in to a subsistence lifestyle where hunting became necessary many humans would die rather than that the resource would be depleted, I could be wrong in my assumption and possibly humans would pick up these old skills faster than expected. Definitely wouldn't be able to sustain current population levels on it, but having the skill could be useful as most wouldn't be prepared with these skills if they did become necessary.

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