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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Solar, so good

Pete, Nicola, Lola, 9, and Nell, 7, spent three happy months during summer of 2007 travelling around Britain. Now we’re home, but the travel bug is still there. Join us for the occasional sightseeing plus tips on how to shrink your carbon footprint. This post is from Nicola

That rash promise I made to myself to do something to tackle climate change every day is making me work far too hard. Sometimes all I have to do is organise - the pic is of Howard Johns from http://www.southernsolar.co.uk/ visiting to see if our roof has enough room (and at the right angle) for solar panels. Today I did the work - possibly because I’ve only had to do an hour’s teaching, which gave me time to organize the important life stuff. As a result I’ve managed to get a promise of a grant from the Energy Saving Trust, see http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/ for £400 towards the installation of solar hot water panels on our roof. In fact anyone can claim up to £2,500 towards the installation of a maximum of three different low carbon technologies until the end of March 2009.

The total cost for swanky solar thermal panels is more than £4,000 but Islington is offering a £2,100 grant as well which makes the bean counting that much easier. Cross fingers these clever tubes will be gracing our roof by the end of April just as the days get long enough to really heat our water up.

Thinking solar is the first techy thing that we’ve done.

Until now we’ve just focused on energy saving by adding insulation to our loft, double glazing windows, draft proofing everywhere and adding temperature controls to each radiator. These improvements have cost about £8,000. Upgrading windows is expensive so it’s taken us four years to be able to afford a nearly complete set of sash windows for our house (an no, it's not that big!). I try to console myself that people often pay this sort of money for a new kitchen (and some like MPs upgrading the kitchens in their second homes can budget £10,ooo).

We spent our money on saving energy but the result is that we’ve got a much more comfy, draft free home to live in. And then I head off to work to pay for it

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