Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting closer!

So this weekend was fairly productive even if it was unbearably hot. We managed to get the wiring done and my neighbor was kind enough to call today and let us know that the meter has been put in. Now all we have to do is hook up to it!

It's amazing how much heat these buildings hold with  no insulation. Here is my poor hubby tolerating the heat to get the wiring done. The kids of course wanted to help to so he let them use the drill to make the holes bigger. I'm not sure how I feel about them using power tools already but we all know how boys are with their toys.

We also bought a reel mower so we could mow some of the grass. This one cost us about $120 at Lowe's. It has an 18 inch mowing width and comes with a bag to catch the grass which is nice if want to try and compost some of it. Of course I wouldn't try to mow a very large area with this, but it does mow pretty well even if it is slow. The nice thing is it doesn't use any gas. We may invest in a gas mower later but for now this will do the job. Our neighbor was also nice enough to come over before we left and used his riding mower to finish mowing the grass for us. We have such nice neighbors!

The funny thing is the kids were actually arguing over who got to mow. I'm sure this is something that will never happen again but it was fun to watch. The mower is easy enough to push that even Baby Bit could do it. Overall the kids actually did pretty well with it.

So as of now the move is on for this weekend. I will post as soon as I can after the move so you guys stay tuned!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pieces of the puzzle

Every move has its challenges and this one has been no exception. We have hit plenty of hiccups in our plans, but slowly things may be coming together.

As much as I don't want to be on the grid, that is what we have to do for now. Hopefully the meter will be in before we move. If not, well, that's another issue that will have to be dealt with. Arrangements have been made for the phone and internet to be hooked up and this weekend we hope to get the wiring done.

Even though I am doing things I never thought I would do, I also realize that we are facing issues that we never thought would come. At least I didn't. Sometimes I think about what the future may be like for the generations to come and what are they going to think about us? There is no chance that those who come after us will enjoy the same level of comfort that we have. Will they think we were arrogant? Foolish? Conceited? I don't know, only history can be the judge. What I hope, is that the choices that we make from here on out are what we will truly be judged on.

I keep hoping that when the public realizes that the chips are down, that the American grit and ingenuity that we have become known for will kick in.  That, as we have done in the past, we will dig in and do what must be done. My concern however, is that the apathy and need for instant gratification that has been developed will hamper people's ability to function in a meaningful way.

The answers to the problems that we are facing are at our fingertips, we just have to be willing to change and embrace what needs to be done. Change is never easy and many of us don't like change, especially when things are changing in a way we don't like. Unfortunately, change is coming. This is why I strongly support the use of permaculture and relocalizing our communities. Start preparing your lifeboat and thinking of ways that you might deal with changes that may be coming. Also, keep an eye on what is happening in the world. We are connected to everyone else and events that may seem remote from us could have impacts that we can't even imagine now. Talk to your friends and family. Try to make as many people aware as possible. The more people that understand what is happening, the better prepared our society will be. Let's face it, we can't count on the government to do anything useful.

Change is a part of nature and like anything else in nature, if we want to survive we must learn how to change with it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Announcing - Collpasenet.com

Because I feel so strongly about this and I feel it is very important to get this out to as many people as possible, I wanted to announce the start of Michael Ruppert's new website collapsenet.com. I mentioned him a couple of posts back and I wanted you guys to know his website is up.

You may not believe in Peak Oil, or if you were like me, you're not ready to wrap your head around the idea yet. Unfortunately, I think we are running out of time. Mr. Ruppert feels that we are at the beginning of the end of industrial civilization. No matter how you feel about what he says, you have to admit that the things that are happening in our world are pretty scary. So for those that are interested, please visit his site and start making plans for your own lifeboat.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How far are you willing to go?

As we continue to prepare for our move and I have to meet the electric company's engineer this week, I have been thinking about how much electricity we use. We have discussed at some length about getting solar panels or going on the grid. I would love to get solar panels right away and not even have to go on the grid but to get a full blown system would be very expensive. Depending on what the engineer tells me however, that may still be something we have to look at.

As we seriously discussed getting solar panels instead of getting on the grid, I wondered how much electricity we use on a monthly basis. Of course this is essential to know if you want to figure out how big of a system you need. So I found our most recent electric bill and I was a little surprised. On average, we use 1500 kWh a month. Last summer when we were having those unbearable 100 degree days for days on end we topped out at around 3000. This is for a 1500 sq ft dwelling with two central A/C units, not enough insulation, and windows that are not energy efficient (We rent so none of these features were my idea). To give you an idea of how much it would cost to get us completely off the grid, here are some numbers. A 1500 kWh system, based on where we live, would cost about $82,715.00 or $40,680.00 after incentives. Hmmm....can we see why it is cost prohibitive for most of us to go solar, at least in the way we would like? These numbers were based on one solar calculator and of course the numbers will be different for each area of the country.

Depending on how much it will cost to have a meter placed on our property we may still go with solar panels. The question is, how can we reduce how much electricity we use? I would like to cut our current energy usage at least in half, if not more. Initially however, we cannot afford a large system so we would have to start out very small and then add to it.

I would love to get a refrigerator that uses propane but those are expensive and I haven't been able to find a used RV one. Instead, I'm going to try and sell my current fridge and get one that is smaller and energy star rated. We have a window unit that we plan on using but we have also considered getting a swamp cooler instead. One we looked at uses about 140 watts of power versus our window unit that uses over 1000. The washing machine has been a bit of dilemma. If we have to get a small solar panel system we simply won't be able to use the washer unless it is on a generator as well as the fridge. I have looked at a small hand washer that costs about $50 which could be used for small loads but we would still have to go to a laundromat from time to time. Here is a picture of the washer that I found through Lehman's.

As for lights, there are always candles and oil lamps to reduce how much electricity we use there. TV watching would be limited, much to my children's chagrin I'm sure.

Even though I knew that choosing this path would be difficult, I did not realize how hard it would be for me to let go of this idea of how we are supposed to live. I told my husband that we are trying to hold onto this idea of middle class living that is just not sustainable. I have to admit, I feel like a junkie trying to get off of drugs. I am used to living a certain way and even though I know that choosing a simpler lifestyle is better for my family and the world around us, it doesn't mean it isn't difficult. So if it is this hard for me, someone who is very aware that we have to change how we live as a society, how much more difficult is it going to be for everyone else?

We all have to make our own choices as to how we want to live. Some of us are willing to make greater changes than others. If you are reading this, then you have at least given some thought to greening your lifestyle and are hopefully taking steps to that end. I suppose the big question is, how far are we willing to go now and far will we be forced to go in the future?