Friday, January 27, 2012

Solar Oven - Cooking first Meal

We finally cooked our first meal in the Solar Oven, and this was very successful.

As the weather improved finally, we decided to cook a stew, which we put into our cast iron lidded casserole dish. The oven didn't take too long to heat up, and by 9.45 a.m. we put the casserole into the oven box, and left it to stew away, and turning the box approximately every hour to follow the sun. By midday we decided to take a quick look and raised the lid of the dish to check, and low and behold the food was bubbling away nicely.

The temperature inside the oven reached about 120 c according to our gauge, so didn't think that was hot enough to cook the meal. By 5.45 p.m. we took it out of the oven and found it had cooked to perfection.

This turned out to be a very inexpensive meal as although we had bought the meat, the onion, carrots, beans and new potatoes were out of our garden, and parsnips from Sheila's garden, and bay leaf from Bobbie's garden.

We must do this more often, as big power saving to be had here. Could try baking perhaps!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Greenest Street Winners 2011 Donations to Schools and Charities

We are pleased to report that all donations have been made to the following schools and charities from the $3,000 which we won by being the Kapiti Coast Greenest Street Winners 2011.

The other charities we gave money to but do not have photographs for are Arohanui Hospice, Palmerston North, Friends of the otaki River, Riding for the Disabled, and Speld Mana.

We had an enjoyable time delivering the donations to the various recipients. It was lovely meeting all these nice people, and they were surprised and thrilled to get funds for their various projects.

Ian King Fire Chief Otaki Volunteer Fire Brigade

Shelly Assistant Principal Waitohu School

Robyn Bruce Otaki Montessori

Karen McAviney Principal Otaki Health Camp

John Kane Principal Otaki College

Georgie Neuf Otaki St. Johns

Craig Vidulich Principal Te Horo School

Hangi at the Frasers

On the 13th December the residents of our street had an enjoyable evening at Monica's and Andy house, where we all enjoyed the Hangi organized by Andy.

This was our last official dinner to celebrate our Green Street accomplishments of the last year.

First we were asked to supply and help prepare the vegies earlier in the day, and to also supply meat of our choice, and something for a dessert.

The food turned out to be delicious, and it was cozy sitting around the outdoor fire, as it turned out a bit chilly that night.

Peter, our Co-ordinator, was presented with his Mayoral Chain, as our unofficial Mayor of our Street.

So lots of laughs, and of course lots of drinks, and the beauty of being able to walk home safely with no need for the car.

Fire to keep us warm, and for the boys to cook marshmallows

Andy with the cooked chickens

Hangi ready to eat

Pre-dinner drinks

Peter, the unofficial Mayor of the Street, receiving his Mayoral Chain

Monday, August 15, 2011

Te Roto Road - Kapiti's Greenest Street!

We are immensely proud to be the ultimate winners of the Kapiti Coast District Council's inaugural Greenest Street Competition for 2010-2011.  This has definitely been more about the journey than the competition itself although having a common goal was the ideal catalyst to put some sustainable living concepts into action.  It also gave us permission to break down some social barriers and before we knew it we were welcoming one another into our kitchens (and toolsheds) and the momentum gathered from there!

Over the course of nine months we reduced our environmental footprint by one whole Earth and in the process learned to live together more as a community.  We introduced some sustainable living practices that are now firm habits and we've got a lot more projects planned.  Our environmental footprint is currently 2.6 Earths and we'd like to see that get even lower!

It's been amazing to find what a big difference the little, everyday, things make - and just how easy it is to get started and to get hooked!  Our early ideas seemed too simple to have any real impact - use energy saving light bulbs, recycle, buy local, drive less, take the small car, swap produce, share knowledge - but what a huge difference it made.  It was also very satisfying and great fun to talk to neighbours about our virtuous new habits.  So starting out with these simple concepts was a great way to begin.

This gave us the encouragement to take on the more ambitious projects and we quickly found that by sharing ideas and working together we could achieve more than we could as individuals.  Macadamia nut harvesting for example, planting native seedlings, stacking firewood - how fantastic to share the workload!!

We soon found that we had a lot more in common than simply living in the same street and this resulted in some friendships and bonds that most likely would not have occurred in our previous "busy lives".

We discovered a wealth of knowledge and skills that could be shared and learned and so began a series of workshops for bottling and preserving fruit, chutney and jam making, limoncello making, composting, pruning and tree care - it just went on and on - and the biggest challenge was literally finding more time for all the new projects and social activities. 

We began doing spontaneous favours for one another: a half a dozen eggs for a jar of tomato passata, a sack of pinecones for mowing the lawn, baking a cake, sharing a casserole, a handpicked bunch of flowers, plants for the garden - on and on it went - each act of kindness seeming more extravagant than the last! 

We were constantly thinking about the next favour we could do in return and this gave us the motivation and enthusiasm to push boundaries as each generous gesture spurred ideas for other projects.  "Hey, let's knit hot water bottle covers?" (okay so that's a project we haven't started - but only because we ran out of time!). 

The Frasers lovely glass driveway is testament to the commitment and number of meetings we've had just so we can recycle glass to fill those potholes.  What dedication to the cause!

The Greenest Street Competition has changed the way we live.  We had a Royal Wedding Party and that really showed how far we had come as a community.  Who would have thought you could have so much fun with your neighbours!  The friendships we now share are an unexpected bonus.

This blogsite has been a lot of fun too.  It was a novel experience for us all and it's been read by people around the world.  And there's been no shortage of people making contributions.  I've rushed home from an evening with my neighbours to write it on the blogsite only to find someone else has beaten me to it!  It's been a great way to document our journey and share our experiences.  And we've enjoyed reading the other Greenest Street blogs too.

Being a Greenest Street competitor is a constant topic of conversation and I'm often asked: "What are the Te Roto people up to this week?" and I am very happy to tell them - and pick up tips from them too which I then pass on to my neighbours.  (Did you know that if you freeze the fruit first, it's much easier to pulp for wine making?)  There's a lot of interest and no shortage of people who care about the Kapiti region - and the planet - and are already doing amazing things.  This is a fantastic initiative and we encourage people to get involved. 

KCDC has provided fantastic support and we are so appreciative of their help and encouragement.  They've created a high profile for the Greenest Street Competition and they've supplied some fabulous support and resources.  Jake and Stacey have been outstanding, attending our meetings and helping us along the way.  It's been an absolute privilege to be part of this initiative (I was going to say "social experiment" because it has been fascinating process to be part of) and we will continue to support it in any way we can.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Reduction in Green House Gas Emissions from the Te Roto Road Vehicle Fleet.
The fuel used in New Zealand's vehicle fleet accounts for over half of the total energy used in NZ annually.
This ratio probably applies to most New Zealand homes. If they are spending two to three hundred dollars a month on their power bill you can bet they are spending a similar amount to run their cars, if not more with the recent price increases!
We had taken various steps to reduce energy used in our homes, (see previous blogs), however in an effort to reduce the fuel used by the vehicles owned by residents of Te Roto Road during the Greenest Street Competition, it was decided to introduce an old method tried in the 1970's - Carless Days!!
Unlike the draconian scheme from the '70's, this one would be entirely voluntary. Each household would be asked to have at least one day a week when they didn't use their vehicles. Obviously depending on circumstances this would prove to be easier for some families than others.
Column 1 Household
Column 2 Vehicle
Column 3 Reduction/Increase km use for year
Column 4 CO2 output grams/km travelled
Column 5 Reduction/Increase CO2 output for year.
A : 1 : 2500 km : 218 g/km : 545 kg
A : 2 : No change
B : 1 : 9000 km : 162 g/km : 1458 kg
B : 2 : 5500 km : 341 g/km : 1875 kg
C : 1 : 2430 km : 177 g/km : 430 kg
D : 1 : 12764 km : 141 g/km : 1800 kg
D : 2 : 456 km : 152 g/km : 70 kg
E : 1 : 2769 km : 171 g/km : 474 kg
F : 1 : 272 km : 216 g/km : 60 kg
G : 1 : 2929 km : 224 g/km : 654 kg
G : 2 : 2640 km : 206 g/km : 544 kg
G : 3 : +1000 km : 227 g/km : 227 kg
H : 1 : 3444 km : 186 g/km : 640 kg
I : 1 : 800 km : 190 g/km : 152 kg
J : 1 : 7580 km : 276 g/km : 2092 kg
J : 2 : 9300 km : 264 g/km : 2455 kg
Total Reduction km use per year = 61375 km
Total Reduction CO2 output for year = 13022 kg

By the use of a very simple method involving a bit of forward planning to organise their vehicle use, the residents of the street have avoided making unnecessary trips and reduced their total of:-

#1 Distance travelled by 61,375 km
#2 The total CO2 produced from their vehicles by 13022 kg
#3 Fuel Saved : Since individual vehicle consumption figures were not recorded, an approximate group average figure will be calculated.
From the Govt Wright Car website.
To calculate CO2 emissions from fuel consumption figures litres per 100 km. (L/100km)
CO2 g/km Average Conversion factor for petrol is (L/100 km x 22.961 = CO2 g/km
From this we obtain (L/100km = CO2g/km / 22.961)
Total CO2 saved = 13,022,000 grams
total km saved = 61,375 km
The group average CO2 emissions = 13,022,000 / 61,375 = 212 g/km
The group average fuel consumption L/100km = 212 / 22.961 = 9.233 L/100km
Total fuel saved = Avg 1/100km x Distance Saved / 100
= 9.233 x 61,375 / 100
= 5,666 litres
# 4 Dollars Saved:

Fuel prices increased rapidly during the six month period of the project, so an exact figure would be impossible to calculate.
However if we assume a conservative average cost of $2.00 per litre, this gives pretty impressive value = 5,666 x 2.0
= $11,333 over 1 year !!
Over all a very worthwhile project !!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Potential Cost Savings Realised by Changing Your Power Provider

It seems timely to report on the results of our streets efforts, in view of the recent blitz of adds on T.V. and Radio encouraging people to save money by changing their Power Provider. sponsored by the " Electricity Authority "

Case Study 2:-
In February a number of residents in Te Roto Rd were contacted by a representative of Powershop, a relatively new player of the country's numerous Power Providers.
They were conducting a customer recruitment drive in the region, and were offering some attractive enticements to switch.
Powershop were offering a guaranteed minimum 10% saving, plus an added 12 Days free power at 22 Units per day ( kW/Hr ) over a 60 day trail period.
Powershop has a relatively innovative way of operating compared to other suppliers. Check out the details on

Consumer magazine has conducted a number of surveys on electricity prices and power providers over the last few years, Powershop seems to have come out at or near the top in all of them.

The following results are from one household in the street that decided to switch from their existing provider Contact Energy to Powershop.
Comparing unit prices cents per kWh. Comparing apples with apples!
Powershop unit prices are a total price, It includes GST. Powershop does not charge line or meter charges. If you don't use any power over a given time period there is no charge.
This unit price can vary according to a number of factors like the time of year and your consumption rate. You can also pre bulk buy units at a discounted special price for use at a later date.
Contact Energy's unit price does not include GST, line or meter charges. You have to add these charges to your total accumulated unit charge and divide by the number of units used over a given time period to obtain the real price per unit !
If you don't use any power over a given time period you still end up paying for the line, meter and GST charges !! The less power you use over a given time period the higher the equivalent unit charge !!

Actual Bill : Powershop : April/May
33 days 682 kWh @ 22.18 cents per kWh = $158.07
Less 4 days free power 4 x 22 kWh x 23.18 cents per kWh = $20.39
Actual Cost = $158.07 - $20.39
Total = $137.68
Sample Bill : Contact Energy
33 days 260 kWh @ 27.187 cents per kWh = $70.68 Any Time Unit Rate = 23.641cents per kWh + GST @ 15% = 27.187
33 days 422 kWh @ 18.38 cents per kWh = $74.18 Economy Unit Rate = 15.92 cents per kWh + GST @15% = 18.38
33 days Two meter charge @ $1.33 per day = $43.89
33 days Easy Reader @ $0.15 per day = $4.95
Electricity Commission Levy
@ $0.215 per kWh x 682 kWh = $1.45
Grand Total including GST = $195.15
Cost Saving without Powershops free days power introductory offer.
Contacts Price = $195.15
Powershops Price = $158.07
Saving = $37.08
This is equal to a 19% saving !
Cost Saving with Powershops free days power introductory offer included.
Contacts Price = $195.15
Powershops Discount price = $137.68
Saving = $ 57.47
This is equal to a 29.45% saving !
A 19% saving is a good result, if your power bill is $2000 over one year ( $166 average per month ) this equates to saving of $380 over one year !
By signing up for Powershop's 12 days free power sign up trial, you get 12 days Free power !
You get 22 Units per day, the unit rate may vary depending on the date. However if we assume our example rate of 22.18 cents per unit.
This means a further one off saving of 22 x 12 x $0.2218 = $58.55
Well worth a try ?

By Denis

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Containing the Dog - By Monica

¾ of our property had been fenced prior to the purchase of our wee puppy, (who is not so wee any more). Our mission was to fence the rest of our property so that we could keep her in and other dogs out! The price we were quoted was $2,000 for swimming pool fencing and labour. We almost accepted this quote until Andy and Paul David were having a chit chat over the fence. Paul gave us a rather cunning and incredibly cost effective way to fence the last side of our property. He suggested mounting galvanized gates to tanalised posts. The gates would sit on tanalised timber. The cost, $600 for the gates and timber and $350 for the labour.

The result, a fence that contains the dog, looks good for half the cost of swimming pool fencing. Thought we would share this idea!