On the political scale, as soon as talk turns to climate action it quickly takes a detour through accounts. The general argument seems to be “we could do x things, but they cost $y, so that will never happen.” Happily, as a family, we have the ability to question our budget overall and not just individual line items.
We wanted to divert enough money in our budget to cover the cost of changing our emissions. We’ve got a long list of projects that we want to complete, and they all cost money. I have our budget in a fairly detailed spreadsheet, so I can make small changes and immediately see the impact on our bottom line. The most recent change was adding in the repayments for our Solar Victoria loan to buy our PV system:
At first, we weren’t sure where we were going to pull $556.20 per year from – that’s a lot of money. We started by looking at the electricity line – the feed in tariff on offer from our retailer is 11c/kW, and our system should produce a minimum of 5kW per day. If we feed in all of that energy, our daily cost drops from $2.10 to $1.55, for an annual reduction of $200.75. In reality we would be using some of that energy instead of exporting it, and generation will be higher in summer, so the practical savings should be higher. When we take that from the loan amount, the additional expense for the system drops to $355.45. Expressed as a weekly amount, the loan will cost us $6.84. We could cover that by working from home one day a week instead of taking the train, by walking to the supermarket instead of taking the car, or by borrowing a book from the library instead of buying something new.
The important thing to note with this change is that the loan will not be there for nearly as long as the panels will be. After four years we stop paying for that loan, so we’ll have those funds available in our budget for other projects, and $556.20 per year is still a lot of money.
If you’re playing along at home…
…how much could you divert in your budget towards actions that will reduce your footprint? Please share in the comments below what you’re budgeting to change.