Waiting, waiting, waiting. We are now 6 months behind our expected date for getting Title. An over optimistic estimate by the developer combined with a run of bad luck. Or as we like to say…so far, we are behind time and over budget – so all is going as planned!

The good news is that we have had plenty of time to research and consider what I can only call the bits and bobs.

Tony has been determined to have a small but smart house. While slightly larger than we anticipated at 172 m2 (though all for very good reasons), we still hope to achieve a smart house.

We started with solar.

Do you remember when NZ used to be a test ground for innovation? Our small size made us an excellent place to pilot world firsts such as eftpos. Well, what happened?! Nowadays it feels more like we’re used as a dumping ground for 6-12 month old technology.  So, we are now great producers of innovation (more on that later), but no longer the place to go to for experimentation. Subsequently cool things like the smartflower.com (all in one solar system) are light years away from  being affordable here, and in the absence of subsidies, solar options are feeling uneconomic for the ordinary kiwi with power to the gate. Solar tubes for hot water heating were our first consideration, but if we are to harness the energy from the sun, then we are keen to really make the most of it.

So we turned our search to Photovoltaics (PV). We appreciate that smart energy use is all about understanding how you consume power and responding accordingly, but at some point it is equally helpful to understand just how much something is going to cost to install, run, and what the return on investment is. When we finally got some answers to these questions, we felt that none of our options were realistic or compelling; not (a) a 10k to 16k upfront investment for on-grid option, (b) a full off-grid system starting from $30,000, nor (c) locking into a 20 year contract .

In all fairness we did actually make an appointment with SolarCity with full intentions to go with PVs. Getting an appointment to talk to their “experts” meant a phone conference meeting to hear what they suggested we should get. After waiting weeks, the night finally came and then went with no call, apparently the “expert” (sales person) went home early and didn’t bother to call us. The days and weeks that followed was a bombardment of phone calls and emails from telemarketers working for SolarCity trying to rebook us into another meeting. The whole experience felt like a big sales pitch and left us feeling a little despondent, as all we wanted were some hard numbers and technical install information, instead it felt like a crazy pyramid scheme. This was just our experience, so don’t let this put you off trying for yourself.

In the face of this and NZ’s largely renewable energy resources, we’ve decided to park PV for now. One day, when and if the price comes down, we will reconsider.

Amber & Tony

Author Amber & Tony

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