£400 saving on electricity this year

•October 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Recently had another campaign around the house to reduce any unnecessary electricity usage. By switching to an even more ethical energy supplier – Ecotricity – our cost per kilowatt (Kw) went up by 1.6p (I feel it is a small price to pay to tap into 100% renewably sourced energy). This prompted me to think about further reducing our electricity use to prevent the bills going up. Having already done a lot of the obvious things we were not too sure that many more savings could be made, especially when we are full on with the B&B in the summer.

This is going to sound time consuming but  it only takes 5 minutes each day. You do, however, need to keep on measuring 1 appliance/program a day over the course of several days/weeks to build up an accurate picture as to what uses the most energy in your home. In the long run you cannot manage what you don’t understand and it will help to save significant amounts of money & energy. By using a Wetekom energy monitor we have been able to establish the energy usage of each appliance. Not only that, it is possible to establish the comparative amounts of energy used by e.g. running the washing machine on an eco program / quick wash / regular program or dishwasher on it’s various programs.

During last winter, taking this approach has seen our energy use cut from about 10Kw per day to 3Kw. Some of this has come from changing some of the energy hungry appliances such as the freezer – to a more energy efficient A+ model. So far with the B&B season we have maintained about a 10Kw reduction per day (monitored with owl type energy monitor). Whilst this only adds up to about £1.40 per day, that does add up to significant amounts over time. More importantly it reduces our carbon footprint.

At 1 point we went around the whole house turning EVERYTHING off. We got it down to the last 100 watts (using the real time owl type monitor). It is surprising what you forget takes energy – central heating pumps, wired in doorbell, cooker & microwave clocks…. Conversely in the switching back on, you see how the monitor logs the jumps in consumption. This can give the clues to the more energy hungry systems. Our background electricity consumption runs at around 300 watts per hour, when guests are here, less in the winter months.

The most energy hungry systems in this 2nd round of analysis were the Sky TV box and the desktop computer, which tended to be on for 12 hours a day. So the purchase of a 2nd hand laptop (about £170) has dispensed with the desktop. That has been packed up & will be donated to a charity when we have wiped the hard drive. The Sky box we only turn on when we are actually watching our TV – only disadvantage seems to be that we can no longer record a TV series!

Savings – currently about £400 this year compared to last. Way more than I thought could be possible, as I thought we had already done a good job of cutting out electricity wastage. Just goes to show that being a bit anal about monitoring can really pay off, along with a few changed habits. We have now just about halved our annual electricity use from around an 8000Kw peak to about 4000Kw per year – which at current prices is a saving of around £560 pa.

Celtman extreem triathlon

•June 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Celtman event took place at the weekend. International athletes came to our corner of the world, to push themselves to the limit. The competitors started at 5am with a 3km swim across Loch Shieldaig, 202km road cycle via Braemore Junction and a marathon over Beinn Eighe.

The weather was kind, with the start of the day calm for the swim. It was a bit strange when just about the whole village turned out to cheer the competitors from the water, at the old pier, to transition onto their bikes. The noise of 120 swimmers was so different to our ‘normal’ coastal sounds, especially at 5.45am. A seal appeared to be very confused about all his new companions in the water, kept popping up just to the side of the oblivious swimmers! I think the water was a little cold, despite the sunshine we had been enjoying since May.
The winners ran into Torridon at around 13hours – absolutely phenomenal efforts. Some of the competitors got back to the hall sometime after 2am – an amazing 21hours after starting the event. Lots of tales of daring do. Well done to everyone who took part in the event.
For many people it was there 1st time visiting the area and talking to many of the support crews whilst waiting for the athletes to arrive into Torridon they were blown away by the remoteness & beauty of the area. There are many who will be returning & not just for the next grueling event!

In celebration of the London 2012 Olympics

•April 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

For the last 2 years we have been working towards the creation of 5 circles in our rather boggy garden. Guests who have been watching the development of this rather creative approach, can finally see the finished result (those really keen gardeners will know there is no such thing as a finished garden!)

Olympic celebration

Rather than have a boring bit of grass – which is more moss than grass and I don’t have the time or inclination to treat the moss – I took a lateral approach to what to do with the space . The problem/reason is that the ground squelches and bounces under your feet as it is basically a bit of bog, de-crofted about 20 years ago.

Circles & textures came to mind and the plan evolved from there. It seems fitting to have completed the scheme in the year London hosts the Olympics.

It took a big leap of imagination for my erstwhile “under gardener”, to visualise this creation.  I seem to come up with the ideas and Himself does all the construction work. He dreads the words “I’ve been thinking” and clutches his back in anticipation of the graft required!

A890 re-opens 23rd April 2012

•April 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The major road between Wester Ross and Skye is re-opening on Monday 23rd April. The A890 had been closed or only partially open since several landslips in December 2011, near Stromeferry. This has caused massive disruption throughout the region and a loss of business to all involved in the Tourist industry.  The detour involved a 140 mile detour via Inverness, which understandably not everyone was prepared to make.

Our thanks go to the Highland Council & all the workmen who have worked round the clock to get this important road re-opened. And to all our guests who have been inconvenienced by this closure, but who worked around it and still managed to get here. For all who love peace, quiet and to be far from the madding crowds – Wester Ross is the place to be!

March A890 Skye & West Coast route update

•March 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Anybody traveling up the West Coast from Fort William (A82)  or coming to & from Skye will be affected by this.

This is the restricted opening on the A890 see below for details:

From Monday 19 March, the A 890 Lochcarron – Kyle road will partially reopen, with traffic under 7.5 tonnes gross weight being diverted on to the railway line over HoldFast paving at the following times.

Monday – Friday :

0710 – 0745 (open Lochcarron to Kyle first);

0850 – 0915                                                                                    

1020 – 1055

1340 – 1420

1610 – 1700

1810 – 1900;

Saturday:

0710 – 1030

13.40 – 14.20

16.10 – 17.00

Sunday:

0710 – 1245

1400 – 1505

1615 – 1850.

Out with these times the road will be closed to all traffic.

Times may vary slightly due to train time variations.

Strome ferry A890 update

•February 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Stromeferry ferry!

Update on the Stromeferry road closure – A890. Thanks to Celtic fringe for this.

When the road is able to partially re-open (now estimated 27th February) opening will be between 7 am and 7 pm under traffic control and convoy.

Traffic will get priority between 7am – 9am and between 4pm – 7pm when there will be no work carried out. One-way traffic will be led 800 metres through the works at 10 mph by a convoy vehicle. At 7 am, the first convoy will travel from Lochcarron to Plockton/Kyle.

Between 9am and 4pm, vehicles will be allowed through in convoy as works continue. Delays of up to 30 minutes can be expected at these times. The road will be closed between 7pm and 7 am to allow works to proceed overnight.

Celtman Tri-athlon 2012

•January 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

2012 would appear to be the year of outdoor events in the area.Views across to Torridon from Ben Damph

First off the Winter Walking weekend organised by the Torridon Hotel the 3rd-5th March.

April is the Highlander Mountain Marathon 14th & 15th April.

Then 12th May is the Bealach Beag cycle challange, this starts & ends in Shieldaig.

23rd June sees the first Celtman extreme triathlon.

1st Sept the Bealach Mor followed by another walking weekend 8-10th Sept out of the Torridon Hotel.

The Celtman is more of an Iron man event. “Centered around the stunning Torridon mountains we will take you on an adventure unlike any other. CELTMAN! is a long distance EXTREME triathlon.  Please take note – this race is HARD.  The distances are Ironlike and the terrain severe.”

“You will be expected to complete a sea-loch swim, an arduous road cycle and a mountainous run. This will require endurance, stamina, great bike handling skills and off-road running experience. Please do not consider entering this race if you question your own ability to do anything mentioned above.”

We are expecting our guests (we are fully booked for the event) to be up around 3am to head out to the swimming leg of the Triathlon which will start in Shieldaig. Goodness knows what time they will be back in on the 23rd but it will be light until late around 11pm as it is so close to the longest day. We expect everyone will want a bit of a lie in on Sunday followed by a hearty breakfast! Good luck to all the competitors.