Comments on: Break Up with Your Utility Companies - or Get Dumped! http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Sun, 20 Jul 2008 01:03:20 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: Trish http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5934 Trish Sun, 25 May 2008 04:07:22 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5934 very thought provoking. We are fortunate in Australia most are still public utilities but they still are in the process of selling off power. We also have fairly even temperatures and mostly our pipes don't freeze. very scary for some people who can't afford heating for just the basics. very thought provoking. We are fortunate in Australia most are still public utilities but they still are in the process of selling off power.

We also have fairly even temperatures and mostly our pipes don’t freeze.

very scary for some people who can’t afford heating for just the basics.

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By: Gail http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5496 Gail Mon, 12 May 2008 20:03:00 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5496 Please excuse my typo; I thought I had typed your name correctly as "Sharon." Please excuse my typo; I thought I had typed your name correctly as “Sharon.”

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By: Gail http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5495 Gail Mon, 12 May 2008 20:00:39 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5495 Sharone, I had a similar experience when I got the bill for the topping off of my 500-gallon propane tank. With that delivery, I have spent $2500 for a 4-month heating season, and 12-month use of a propane stove. And this is for a house that I am in only three days a week, with the thermostat turned down to 50 when I'm not there and 62 - 65 when I am there. My initial reaction to the tank-topping-off was to think, "Hey, I was thinking about getting RID of this propane tank--so why did you top me off now?" My second reaction was to realize that I don't yet have another winter heat source in place, and perhaps I can do what you are doing: make the fuel (that I've already paid for) last as long as possible. But I do intend for this to be my last fill-up of propane. Part of the problem was that when 271 gallons were delivered in January, the cost per gallon was $3.71 (!!!). The April price was $2.99/gallon. So now I am researching every space heating option I can think of. I won't need heating until mid-November, so I have until then to come up with a better solution. Sharone, I had a similar experience when I got the bill for the topping off of my 500-gallon propane tank. With that delivery, I have spent $2500 for a 4-month heating season, and 12-month use of a propane stove. And this is for a house that I am in only three days a week, with the thermostat turned down to 50 when I’m not there and 62 - 65 when I am there.

My initial reaction to the tank-topping-off was to think, “Hey, I was thinking about getting RID of this propane tank–so why did you top me off now?”

My second reaction was to realize that I don’t yet have another winter heat source in place, and perhaps I can do what you are doing: make the fuel (that I’ve already paid for) last as long as possible. But I do intend for this to be my last fill-up of propane.

Part of the problem was that when 271 gallons were delivered in January, the cost per gallon was $3.71 (!!!). The April price was $2.99/gallon.

So now I am researching every space heating option I can think of. I won’t need heating until mid-November, so I have until then to come up with a better solution.

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By: housing market, cold and colder « the hetkettle trophish http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5449 housing market, cold and colder « the hetkettle trophish Sat, 10 May 2008 04:45:23 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5449 [...] resale value of cars, and making them better, then there was a blogpiece at the grist blog about getting off the grid for heat. a really good blogpiece with a ton of good comments and some troubling aspects. By fall, if oil [...] […] resale value of cars, and making them better, then there was a blogpiece at the grist blog about getting off the grid for heat. a really good blogpiece with a ton of good comments and some troubling aspects. By fall, if oil […]

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By: Tina http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5396 Tina Fri, 09 May 2008 01:46:37 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5396 We are looking to buy a pellet furnace and a pellet stove by Fall. I am concerned about water and sewer though in our area. Our mayor wants to lease our water and sewer to a private company and use the money to send urban kids to the local University. Sounds like a great idea. However, privatization almost always means a rate hike and less control on our part. Luckily we have a petition drive going to put it on the ballot. Thanks for continuing to prompt us to make the changes now Sharon. We are looking to buy a pellet furnace and a pellet stove by Fall. I am concerned about water and sewer though in our area. Our mayor wants to lease our water and sewer to a private company and use the money to send urban kids to the local University. Sounds like a great idea. However, privatization almost always means a rate hike and less control on our part. Luckily we have a petition drive going to put it on the ballot.

Thanks for continuing to prompt us to make the changes now Sharon.

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By: Sue http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5395 Sue Fri, 09 May 2008 01:39:38 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5395 We had to buy a new septic pump with our rebate. We have supplimented our heat with wood for about 4 years now and brought our electric bill down. I believe we could do without, but it wouldn't be pretty. The dang ash gets everywhere and I feel like cinderella. We had to buy a new septic pump with our rebate.

We have supplimented our heat with wood for about 4 years now and brought our
electric bill down.

I believe we could do without, but it wouldn’t be pretty. The dang ash gets
everywhere and I feel like cinderella.

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By: Green Hill Farm http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5394 Green Hill Farm Fri, 09 May 2008 00:14:48 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5394 As you say $2000 does not get you much but you might swing one of these http://www.yoursolarhome.com/solarsheat1500G.html You can make one: http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/mssungrabber.htm We have an uninstalled wood furnace (central wood powered heat) an inside one not one of those outside ones. Dh keeps saying he's going to get it reinstalled I have been bugging him but I think the idea of $5 gallon heating oil may get him going :). We do have a wood stove in our basement that does a good job taking of the edge in winter. We keep the thermostat quite low but due to some south facing windows on sunny days with the wood stove its quite nice. Beth As you say $2000 does not get you much but you might swing one of these
http://www.yoursolarhome.com/solarsheat1500G.html

You can make one:

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/mssungrabber.htm

We have an uninstalled wood furnace (central wood powered heat) an inside one not one of those outside ones. Dh keeps saying he’s going to get it reinstalled I have been bugging him but I think the idea of $5 gallon heating oil may get him going :). We do have a wood stove in our basement that does a good job taking of the edge in winter. We keep the thermostat quite low but due to some south facing windows on sunny days with the wood stove its quite nice.

Beth

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By: Rosa http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5393 Rosa Thu, 08 May 2008 23:55:48 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5393 lydia, Jade - our city utilities charge by the impermeable square foot for rain. It is a new charge - they used to charge sewer improvements to new construction, but decades of underfunding are taking their toll. The rain runoff from pavement and buildings (and turf grass, too) overflows the storm sewers. Sometimes our major streets look like shallow rivers in the spring. Also, when the storm sewers overflow, old sewage outflows that have still not been rebuilt dump raw wastewater into the Mississippi river. These are the "combined sewers" which were still allowed until the early '80s - you can find a list of several cities which have them on the EPA web site, I think. Many small cities are in dire need of new storm sewers and water treatment plants because they have outgrown their old systems with no way to pay for an expansion. The federal government doles out money for some of these projects - it's one of the uses of earmarks for rural-state Senators in the Midwest. And of course cities that don't expect to flood often build their sewage treatment plants on the cheap lowland - in my hometown there was a flood that wiped out a sewage treatment plant (wiped downstream, I should say) about five years ago, and the great Mississippi floods of 1992 put sewage plants in Ames and Des Moines under water. So you're paying that fee for everyone downstream of you. lydia, Jade - our city utilities charge by the impermeable square foot for rain. It is a new charge - they used to charge sewer improvements to new construction, but decades of underfunding are taking their toll.

The rain runoff from pavement and buildings (and turf grass, too) overflows the storm sewers. Sometimes our major streets look like shallow rivers in the spring.

Also, when the storm sewers overflow, old sewage outflows that have still not been rebuilt dump raw wastewater into the Mississippi river. These are the “combined sewers” which were still allowed until the early ’80s - you can find a list of several cities which have them on the EPA web site, I think.

Many small cities are in dire need of new storm sewers and water treatment plants because they have outgrown their old systems with no way to pay for an expansion. The federal government doles out money for some of these projects - it’s one of the uses of earmarks for rural-state Senators in the Midwest. And of course cities that don’t expect to flood often build their sewage treatment plants on the cheap lowland - in my hometown there was a flood that wiped out a sewage treatment plant (wiped downstream, I should say) about five years ago, and the great Mississippi floods of 1992 put sewage plants in Ames and Des Moines under water.

So you’re paying that fee for everyone downstream of you.

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By: Jade http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5390 Jade Thu, 08 May 2008 22:36:05 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5390 Lydia- Did I read you correctly? Your utility company is charging you for rain? Lydia-

Did I read you correctly? Your utility company is charging you for rain?

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By: lydia http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5384 lydia Thu, 08 May 2008 18:43:48 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/05/07/life-without-utility-companies/#comment-5384 First of all private utilities are almost always going to charge more than public. We used to have a public company for gas, then it was sold and guess what? The price of gas went up! And the service went down. Not always, but often private means rip the customer. I have a small energy efficient wood stove, with electric space heaters for back up. I burn scrap wood which I pick up on curb sides, fruit tree prunings, etc. There is always pallets when in a pinch. The truth is, regardless of the air pollution humans are going to stay warm when cold. Period. Making laws to curb the burning of fireplaces and such will eventually have to be re thought out. Or people will freeze to death. For the first time ever I purchased several pair of long johns at my local thrift store. Lots of extra comforters and I use a small heating pad on the really cold nights. My public city electric company has had an insulation program with new windows and blown in insulation for it's older homes which is good, but they still charge a monthly fee for just the privilege of being hooked up-no matter how much you use! So, even when it's zero, if you have them, you pay! Rates got too high, so they broke up the fees, called them something else and transferred the charges! Then they started charging for "surface water", which is supposed to be run off from house roofs, however they still charge it even on vacant lots! This was never a cost for over 15 years, but now everyone pays it. The whole point being I guess is that no matter what you do, they are going to think up a way to collect your money for their own survival. I have rain barrels hooked up to the gutters for my garden. I use scrap bubble wrap for the windows in the winter, makes great insulation. Inside shutters are a great idea as well. Candles will heat up a small room as well, but dangerous while sleeping. Also the cost is more if used all the time than a heater. When I re-roofed I had a black one put on to hold more heat. In the summer, I turn off the breaker that goes to my hot water heater. The hot water lasts a couple or three days. Then I turn it back on and heat up the water for another 2 or 3 days. That has saved quite a bit on the bill just doing that. A hot water heater always on and cycling is a high energy user. Very inefficient. First of all private utilities are almost always going to charge more than public. We used to have a public company for gas, then it was sold and guess what? The price of gas went up! And the service went down. Not always, but often private means rip the customer.

I have a small energy efficient wood stove, with electric space heaters for back up. I burn scrap wood which I pick up on curb sides, fruit tree prunings, etc. There is always pallets when in a pinch. The truth is, regardless of the air pollution humans are going to stay warm when cold. Period. Making laws to curb the burning of fireplaces and such will eventually have to be re thought out. Or people will freeze to death.
For the first time ever I purchased several pair of long johns at my local thrift store. Lots of extra comforters and I use a small heating pad on the really cold nights.

My public city electric company has had an insulation program with new windows and blown in insulation for it’s older homes which is good, but they still charge a monthly fee for just the privilege of being hooked up-no matter how much you use! So, even when it’s zero, if you have them, you pay!

Rates got too high, so they broke up the fees, called them something else and transferred the charges!

Then they started charging for “surface water”, which is supposed to be run off from house roofs, however they still charge it even on vacant lots! This was never a cost for over 15 years, but now everyone pays it.

The whole point being I guess is that no matter what you do, they are going to think up a way to collect your money for their own survival.

I have rain barrels hooked up to the gutters for my garden. I use scrap bubble wrap for the windows in the winter, makes great insulation. Inside shutters are a great idea as well. Candles will heat up a small room as well, but dangerous while sleeping. Also the cost is more if used all the time than a heater. When I re-roofed I had a black one put on to hold more heat. In the summer, I turn off the breaker that goes to my hot water heater. The hot water lasts a couple or three days. Then I turn it back on and heat up the water for another 2 or 3 days. That has saved quite a bit on the bill just doing that. A hot water heater always on and cycling is a high energy user. Very inefficient.

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