‘Oil powered central heating - that’ll be cheap to run,’ said a friend, who came to look over my house shortly after I bought it. (And no, he wasn’t being ironic - this was before oil prices headed into the stratosphere.) I duly had an oil boiler and a huge white tank - all the better to see the oil being guzzled up - installed in the garage.
I remember the excitement when the tanker arrived to deposit 1000 litres of oil in my garage for the first time and the thrill as, with a loud roar, the oil boiler fired up. At last, hot water!
Now as oil prices continue to climb and the beast in my garage drinks up the black fluid at a rate that could single-handedly drain the oil fields of Iran, I realise what a mistake I made: I should have invested in solar panels. Even in the summer, when it is only used to heat water, the oil still disappears at an alarming rate.
That I should have gone solar was driven home to me recently while enjoying an al fresco aperitif with a fellow anglais, who boasted that he enjoyed free hot water all summer long thanks to two solar panels in his roof. I was as green as a maize field with envy.
I experienced a similar feeling today on reading of Sex and the City actress Kristin
Davis's excitement at ‘being off grid’ and the thrill of climbing up a ladder to check the solar panels in the roof of her home in LA.
Among switched-on folk, it seems that solar panels are the new 'must-have' (even if they don't generate much power in winter.) The oil boiler in my garage on the other hand, feels as past-it as the Amstrad computer.