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21st Century Elizabethans

I have just finished rewatching a terrific BBC series called ‘Tudor Monastery Farm’. In it, three intrepid historians spend a year living life as 16th century farmers. They are in partnership with nature; there is a time to prepare the soil and to plough it, to harvest and preserve fruit or to salt a pig. Their habits follow the seasons, rising early in the summer and retiring early in the winter. The patterns of life shift through the year.

I could not help but notice, that in pursuit of the most energy efficient home and manner of living maybe we 21st century eco- Elizabethans have more in common with our ancestors than meets the eye.

To maximize energy efficiency and reduce cost our goal is to shift the bulk of electricity demand out peak hours and into other times of the day. When married with a variable tariff such as Octopus Agile this can really save money. What it does mean however, is that like our farming forefathers it helps to be in touch with the seasons and the daily weather in order to get the most out of our solar generation and battery storage.

In the morning I find myself casting a wary eye over the sky, to look at cloud coverage and wind direction. I’ve learnt the pattern of our panels and how a burst of early evening brightness can give a hefty boost to our kw/h generation. I have learned that our battery needs to be at 60 % by 10pm if we are to remain off grid overnight until the first tentative tendrils of sun wake the panels again at 6 am or so. As once an ancestor would have looked at a forecast to determine the best time to sow seeds, I now wonder about holding over that batch of washing until tomorrow’s sunny afternoon. The summer season will have me trying to perform my energy hungry activities in the day time, to maximise self-consumption of generated power; the winter will see me going back to finding opportunities for overnight electricity usage making use of cheap tariffs caused by windy days.

Using the battery smartly, and combining it with the Neutral Home Brain will make some of these decisions for me- but I rather like the idea that in my own thoroughly 21st century way, I am getting back in touch with the changing of the seasons. My small daily habits will shift with the equinox.

There seems something quite fitting that moving towards net zero living has made me more aware of the natural world in which we exist. And whilst I’m not ready to go off to Stonehenge in June to greet the summer with ritual dancing , maybe I can mark the longest day of the year in my own way, by putting the oven on.

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