Utility Issue Scenarios

Sharon March 10th, 2009

It always is helpful to know what you are planning for - and this is particularly an issue when speaking of creating systems to live without fossil fuels.  What are you likely to run into?  How long could the power be off?  Is it really an issue at all?

Now I’m on record as saying the most likely utility scenario is this - you can’t afford to pay your bills, and they shut you off.  This happens all the time to poor people, and the number of utility shut-offs is dramatically up.  So that’s scenario number 1 - that your gas or phone or electric bill rises up to the point that you can no longer pay it, and eventually, you have to give up that service. 

But what about other possibilities.  Here’s my take in order of likelihood:

 1. Regular blackout/brownouts during hot weather.  With increased heat waves, we’re likely to see more and more strained power plants, and poweroutages during high summer.  Besides the heavy drains on resources during hot weather, this may happen because of drought - both coal and nuclear plants require copious water for cooling, and in very dry periods, can shut down.  One study suggested the Southwest may eventually struggle to produce sufficient electric simply because there won’t be enough water to keep the plants going.

2. More and more extended power outages.  Hmmm…this year we had Houston with a Hurricane, Kentucky with an ice storm, large chunks of the Northeast with same, parts of the Midwest with flooding….yeah.

The odds are good that sooner or later, due to some major issue, you’ll find yourself going a couple of weeks without power - maybe longer.  It took 3 weeks to get everyone back in Houston, and more in Kentucky.  And if you live in ice or hurricane or blizzard or wind or flood or fire prone areas, you can expect it to happen more often.

 3. Intermittency - remember Enron and the rolling blackouts?  There are a lot of grid and power consumption issues with our electrical system.  Some of them may be managed in the coming years with more cyclical intermittency - ie, the power is out a couple of hours every night or every weekend. 

4. Major infrastructure failure.  Remember the 2004 blackout in the northeast?  This would be grid infrastructure failure.  So would the gas pressure falling at the end of gas lines, which was threatened several winters ago in the US.  While I don’t think massive grid failure is super likely, I do think that we may see plenty of localized - or even not so localized interruptions.

6. Stuff breaks, never gets fixed, particularly in the outer regions.  There may come a point at which it simply isn’t economically feasible to really maintain infrastructure for areas outside large population centers.  We may see that repair trucks stop coming out, or take a long, long time to do so.

7. Catastrophic constraint in supply.  We’ve already seen this with the European gas situation this winter, where geopolitical situations constrained European consumers of natural gas and left them without heat.  Canada is in the situation of being obligated to sell their natural gas to the US disproportionately - they may renegotiate if they find themselves with insufficient gas for their own heating needs.  We certainly could see geopolitical constraints on access to heating oil.

I think none of these situations is tremendously unlikely, and to me, this means that none of us should be completely complacent that what we hope we’ll get from our utility companies will always keep coming as we’d like it.  Everyone needs a backup plan for life without them.

 Sharon 

24 Responses to “Utility Issue Scenarios”

  1. Devin Quinceon 10 Mar 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Reminds me of 3 years ago when Exxon I think lost a chunk of their pipeline in AK due to corrosion and lack of care. This caused prices to shoot up and it was all in the name of profit, it is already happening, but not due to the economically infeasibility to maintain infrastructure, but for the reason of not wanting to spent their profits and the side effect of more profit it they claim loss of supply. Remember people these companies do not care about you or your problems, they are a for profit company and are only concerned about themselves.

  2. Claireon 10 Mar 2009 at 4:02 pm

    We already have electric outages of one to several days from weather on an irregular basis. None in 2007 or 2008 for us, but weekend-long power outages in 2004 and 2005 from straight-line thunderstorm winds, a 6 day long outage in 2006 from 2 such thunderstorms within 30 hours of each other, and most of a day without electric service in winter 2006 from a major ice storm (we were lucky, many people went several days without electric service after that storm). Not to mention rolling blackouts from heat-related problems sometime in the late 90s, I forget the year. And this is BEFORE things get bad … we already have backup procedures for extended electric outages. Maybe we should boot our electric utility before they boot us! ;)

  3. teresa from hersheyon 10 Mar 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I have been buying (second hand of course) wall mounted candle holders for all the rooms in my house. I only buy metal ones as they are fireproof and I plan on hanging a mirror tile on the wall behind the candle portion. The mirror tile is fireproof AND will effectively double the light put out by the candles. I chose wall mounted candle holders to keep them out of the way of my kids and animals. Harder to knock over you know.

    When I can afford them, I will get solar powered lanterns. In the meantime, thrift shop candles are fairly cheap. During Jewish holy days I can get really cheap candles at the local grocery store: a box of 72 each 4 inches long for $1.99! These candles are identical in every way, including burn time, to the sets of 4 emergency candles sold for 1.99. The only difference appears to be the packaging.

    The time to do this is now, before the power outage.

  4. ctdaffodilon 10 Mar 2009 at 6:00 pm

    ah - the great black out of 2004! I remember it well - My hubby was out of town and I was stuck home on a swealtering night with 2 little scared kids. We did have flashlights and have fans but couldn’t use those to cool off -

    Made me re-think a lot of my adapting in place plans that one did….

    Stocking up on candles - even save the leftover bits - the kids like to make votives now they are older - to burn in coffee can lanterns - and they look nice and homey….sort of punch tin’d looking…

  5. Brian M.on 10 Mar 2009 at 6:31 pm

    This Christmas we got these cool crankable flashlights from my parents that never need batteries, you just spin the back of them when the need more juice.

    Our kids thought they were cool, they are genuinely usefu, and the kids can play with them without us worrying about them accidently being left on and wasting batteries. Of course, they say Brookstone on them so they must have cost a mint and are probably among the last things Brookstone made before going under. But still. Figured I’d mention them if you haven’t seen them.

  6. bunnygirlon 10 Mar 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Heat is a tougher problem to deal with than cold if you don’t have electricity, especially if you live where you get the heat+humidity combo. I’ve been quite comfortable in my father’s adobe home in New Mexico in summertime without a/c, but one can’t say the same of Houston, where the humidity keeps the sweat from evaporating off your skin. Evaporation is what cools your body, so if you can’t get dry, you won’t cool off.

    We were lucky after Hurricane Ike that temps were cool for the first week. We had some battery-powered box fans that were really terrific. Another solution to hot weather is to sleep outdoors. This was quite common before there was air conditioning, when the better off people had sleeping porches to catch the breeze at night, and the poor slept on fire escapes or on the ground.

    For light, I consider candles a last resort in summer, since even a small bit of heat would add to the overall misery of being indoors. I’ve found my LED lanterns to be the most useful overall, in terms of providing lots of bright white light without ever seeming to run down the batteries. I also put solar lawn lights outside during the day and deployed them at night in each room of the house. They didn’t provide a lot of light, but it was enough that my husband and I never had to walk into a completely dark room.

    For anything that runs on batteries, get rechargeable batteries and a charger. I’ve not had much luck with my solar charger, so I have a regular plug-in type and I can use it in the car with my inverter.

    I highly recommend everyone have an inverter, because then you can use your car or truck to recharge batteries, laptop, phone, etc, and depending on the rating of your inverter, you can run various small appliances, like a hot pot or even a waffle iron. For those who want to get fancy, an inverter can be hooked up to a deep-cycle battery and solar panel for a near-continuous power supply.

    Other items one needs in a power outage are a crank radio and a battery-powered alarm clock. Don’t assume that power outages will stop business or schools from being open, since not every place will be affected the same way. My husband and I were without power for a week, but the university where we work never lost power. The hurricane hit Friday night and the university re-opened on Tuesday, so we needed that alarm clock!

    I personally don’t recommend a generator unless one experiences regular outages, or has a very specific need, such as health issues. Generators require gasoline, and gas station pumps need electricity, so in a prolonged outage, a generator might quickly become useless. Also, generators are noisy and advertise to one and all that you have power. Depending on where one lives, this might not be a problem, but for some folks, it could be a consideration.

  7. Christy Oon 10 Mar 2009 at 8:13 pm

    We were without power for 4 days and realized some major holes in our preps. No power means no water here because of the well. Combined with lack of heat and we were not happy.

  8. Brad K.on 10 Mar 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Sharon,

    Don’t forget the FBI. Anytime they target someone - an individual, a family, a region - they close down the power. Imagine if the current muttering about gun owner rights, or food isn’t available, or someone feels that shortages are contrived by speculators (food, fuel, credit, tires).

    And you haven’t touched on instability from native militias or foreign adventurers. Stuff happens. President Obama might decide all power should shift to 70 hertz next year - meaning every electric motor and any circuit that synchronizes with local power goes wonky. That one might be as unlikely as the FBI scenario. Unless your neighbor reports you for growing “suspicious plants that aren’t tomatoes or strawberries”.

  9. zucchinion 10 Mar 2009 at 9:19 pm

    This is one of the many reasons we can’t decide whether to adapt in place or move soon. Our current house is on the same electricity grid as the water treatment plant down the street, which apparently means we are second in priority just below the hospital. We have weathered 3 hurricanes and several tropical storms, and we’ve only lost power once, for 9 hours. To me this is one huge benefit of staying put, along with a good location, great neighbors and (currently) good schools. But the rising crime rate keeps rearing its ugly head - there was a bank robbery today only two blocks from the house…

  10. earthpapaon 10 Mar 2009 at 10:45 pm

    There is a great LED light (Everlite - EL6C) with solar panel for about $70. Not cheap but 6 hours of charging (full sunlight) gives 12 hours of light. Bright enough to read under or lights a 25′ yurt with low level general light. I bought the extra carry bag that allows the panel to charge while storing the light. Chargers for cell phones and accessories are extra. It is made in China but it is a great light system.

    http://ca.kingsolar.com/catalog/mfg/everlite/975027.html

  11. knutty knitteron 11 Mar 2009 at 4:09 am

    Cold and dark are easy enough - go to bed! Thats what our ancestors did after all. They also heated their beds with hot bricks wrapped in towelling and that can be achieved with any fire as a source.

    So you need a heat source that isn’t electric and can heat bricks, some old towels and a mountain of bedclothes. The odd candle would probably help too although I do like the sound of those solar lamps.

    I have heard that a proper four poster bed with thick curtains is a great way of conserving heat too. Thats apparently what they were invented for. Its something I’ve wanted to investigate for a while.

    We do get odd power cuts round here (usually tree related from wind) and so preparedness is part of what we do. I like to be able to find candles and matches easily in the dark just in case. Fortunately we don’t get extremes of climate here apart from the wind so this makes things much simpler to deal with.

    viv in nz

  12. Pine Ridgeon 11 Mar 2009 at 7:04 am

    I can see where electricity will be unaffordable before it’s unavailable. My electric company (owned by AEP) raised rates 10% last year, they had asked for a 17% increase. Now they are back before the publice service commision asking for a 38% increase over three years with the first 18% increase this summer. What does this do to people who just found themselves without a job? What do the rest of us do when gas prices jump back up?

    There is only so much that turning off the lights, or using cfl’s, or line drying clothes will do. Eventually it will just be too much and people will go without.

  13. pkscotton 11 Mar 2009 at 8:46 am

    We were in the path of Ike and electricity was out county wide for at least two weeks, and more in some parts of the county. My spouse is in the water utlitlites business and his facilities had generators (although getting the propane to keep them running was in short supply).
    We used deep cycle 12v batteries to keep our freezer going (4 hours on one charge.) We packed it full of block ice before the storm hit so that was enough to keep everything frozen.
    You need to get the little gizmo that looks like a cigarette lighter that will clip on your battery terminals (less than $10) and a little bitty inverter that will plug into it (less than $20). This WILL NOT RUN A LARGE APPLIANCE, for that you need a much larger inverter but it will run smaller stuff like laptop computers and 12v fans (less that $10 in the Wallyworld automotive department) for days. There is an amazing array of this kind of stuff out there that is cheap and available.
    You can buy a fully charged deep cycle 12v battery at Tractor Supply for under $100 including the “core” charge of $20. (Get 2 if you can.) We have a charger that plugs into the wall, one that plugs into the car, and a small bank of solar panals. Surprisingly, Tractor Supply has a lot of 12v stuff, solor panels, and wind generators at competative prices. The only “alternative energy” expertise out here in the boonies are the guy at Tractor supply who put a 12v solar system up on his goat barn so he could cool them off with a RV air conditioner and play them country music (I swear I cannot make this stuff up) and the local RV supply store. The 12v stuff there was kind of high end, but they had a “full sized” (for an RV) propane/12v/110 refrigerator refurbished for under $600 which is about 1/2 the cost of a new one. Wallyworld has a 12v “ice chest” for under $100 which might be worth it if you have medicines that you must keep cool. They also have a portable “AC” that runs of rechargable batteries, non-rechargable batteries, or 12v for under $50.00. It’s really just a box fan with an ice tray in it but it blows a small stream of really cool air. Alternatively you can get on the internet (eBay?) and look for 12v AC and find the fan that some hillbilly designed to fit in top of an Igloo ice chest and hook up to a 12v battery.The cheapest prices on this stuff are Wallyworld, big box building supply, and internet sites like Harbor Freight. The “alt energy sites” and the “survivalist” sites are usualy much more espensive. RV and Marine has been using this stuff forever and some of it is very affordable, some not so much, but if you love your gadgets they probably have a 12v one.
    You also absolutely have to have a RADIO. We had a hand crank one, but it crapped out on DAY ONE and ended up listening to a little battery powerd walkman for 2 weeks. The good news was that battery consumption with the earphones was nil. I know have a really good am/fm/shortwave with 2 sets of rechargable batteries and 3 different ways to charge them. A wind-up alarm clock is another item you never knew you needed ($10 at Wallyworld) and a land line phone that doesn’t require electricity. (We had to go buy then for my hubbies office, all that was left was a Shrek model at Wallgreens.)The cell towers went out but land lines kept on ticking (here at least.) A package of LED tap lights are also handy. They are low battery consumers and can be mounted in stratigic places (i.e. work areas and bathrooms) and last a long time if you only use them when you need light in a particualr area. Crank flashlights and lanterns are available for pretty reasonable, but the quality of light is not so good. You still need a Mag or good high powered flashlight and a small hand held flash light or head light for each person. Go LED or flourescent if at all possible, it will save you a fortune on batteries. You can never have too many batteries! You can get a single burner propane “stove” that screws on top of a disposable propane canister for under $20 and a catalytic propane heater that runs off the same canisters for under $50. If you have some warning (like for a hurricane or a winter storm) buy bread and food stuff you don’t have to do much to prepare. From scratch cooking is kind of impracticle for a short duration “emergency”. Instant stuff and individual servings are good for the short haul. I usually buy generic diet meal in a can stuff because if you are REALLY in a hectic situation it is instant nutrition and can keep you on your feet.
    Around here if you didn’t have it before the hurricane you were SOL for DAYS OR WEEKS because the stores didn’t open up right away and when they did they sold out of everything you needed and the gas stations were also shut down, so no gas for generators.

  14. julieton 11 Mar 2009 at 8:54 am

    Regarding summer black outs. How about we don’t allow air conditioning? Seems kinda stupid to to run out of power entirely instead of just powering down. In the NE it will be uncomfortable, but no one is going to die because it’s humid. If we can order everyone to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars in a drought, why can’t we order people to turn off the a/c when power supplies are strained?

  15. Greenpaon 11 Mar 2009 at 9:28 am

    A great list of reasons to just go off grid!

    The message I constantly try to convey- with varying success- is that it’s really not that hard to do. Most of the “barriers” - are in your head, and your habits.

    And it’s just like Peter Pan- every time you say “I CAN’T do without my whatsit!” - somewhere, a Green Pixie falls down dead!

    So don’t say that! Say; “I DO believe in solar; I DO, I DO.” and surprise- it works!

    :-)

    A little more seriously- indeed, power failures are in your future. Coping with them is much easier if you learn before it’s an emergency.

    How about an “Off Grid Month” challenge?

    Knowing that it’s temporary can help get your cranky family to go along; and when no one dies, by the end of the month, some of will have started to sink in.

    Or you can try this line: “Hey, kids, we’re going to go camping!” “yay! where?” “Right here! Won’t that be fun?” :-)

  16. Green Assassin Brigadeon 11 Mar 2009 at 10:30 am

    Our local power company has created a voluntary plan where they attach a smart module to your a/c which allows them to turn off your a/c for short periods to manage the load and reduce brown outs. They install the device free and I think you actually get a small incentive to use it, so far I think its just commercial properties but its a reasonable way to keep more essential stuff working.

    We were not all that prepared for the 2004 blackout but, but we had outdoor solar garden lamps which we brought in at night,a crank radio, I had a layer of frozen water bottles in the freezer that kept any food from being lost, (3 days, 4 hours without power), Natural gas stove and propane bbq, lots of food, a scrable board and lots of books. I could have used more beer but other than that we heated baby bottles for the neighbors with electric stoves and sat back, read books, played in the garden and snickered at the those who panicked.

    Water could have been an issue but the municipality managed to keep the it going despite coming from deep wells. Winter would have been so much worse, while we have good winter camping gear my house needs a couple of extra water cut offs so I can create zones and just drain some water pipes, that way I can isolate the basement from the harder to heat areas.

  17. Ailsa Ekon 11 Mar 2009 at 10:59 am

    You missed one scenario - infrastructure failure within the house that you can’t afford to get fixed.

  18. Roberton 11 Mar 2009 at 11:40 am

    Oil is not a finite resource. Ever hear of Abiotic Oil Theory. It’s a lot better than the “dead dinosaurs” theory.

    Yes the shit is hitting the fan, but it has nothing to do with Peak Oil. (Obviously)

    read this. It’s science:
    http://freeenergynews.com/Directory/
    Theory/SustainableOil/

    read this: It’s insider industry info:

    http://www.oilandgasreporter.com/stories/
    090101/cov_opinions.shtml

    Resource scarcity is being used to justify war, as well as wild price swings in commodities. American oil production “peaked” in the ’70’s because Saudi oil was so much cheaper. It’s called outsourcing and increases the profits of your overlords.

    Anything to scare the masses. Anything to foster fear, which makes us easier to control and to make us fight their wars.

    read/watch this for more on the Peak Oil ruse:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3340274697167011147

    http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/nwsltr52.html
    http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/nwsltr70.html

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3340274697167011147

  19. Shineron 11 Mar 2009 at 11:42 am

    I have a small rocket stove and a bio-briquett press. I have hundreds of briquettes ready that I got by asking the lawn guys for their bags of grass. I also have a stainless steel coil that fits into the top of the stove. A gravity feed or hose produces hot water on demand. I used a stainless steel coiled tube designed to sit in ice and cool beer. I bought it at a restuarant supply store.

    I built two small Savonius wind turbines and have 3 nickel iron batteries that will last fifty to one hundred years. Nickel iron batteries are expensive and don’t hold a charge over long peoiods but their longevity makes up for it in my opinion. I got mine for sweat equity. I bought an old forklift that had three 12v 120 amp hour units for $900. (Just one of the batteries is over $1200 new) I then scrapped the lift and got most of my $900 back. I also ended up with several powerful electric motors I can convert to generators and build large turbines. Craigslist is full of old forklifts for sale but make sure the batteries are nickel iron and not lead acid.

    If the power goes out I will have hot water and electricity. These two things coupled with my alcohol stil have the makings of a first class inn.

  20. Billon 11 Mar 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I’ve been trying to prepare for a permanent power outage…not just a few days or weeks. After thinking the whole situation through, I decided that “preparing” for temporary outages of utilities is a waste of time. I believe we should look at dissruptions of service as an inevitability and part of life in the future.

    Two items I’ve found helpful are a solar oven and a solar battery charger.

    The oven I got comes from the Solar Oven Society, cost $200, will last the remainder of my lifetime, will cook any foods I’ll need to eat and is an effective and simple water pasteurizer. I don’t mind building a fire, but the solar oven is a breeze!

    I purchased a nice solar battery charger for about $30 from Camping Survival. It works fine. The trick with solar chargers is you have to be disciplined about staying ahead with charged “stock”. Most rechargeable batteries will hold a charge for a long time if unused, so that’s not an insurmountable problem. Recharge time for 4 AA is 8-10 hours with model I have.

    As for batties, I found a terrific company, Thomas Battery, on-line and bought state of the art NiMH AAA, AA, and D cells at a VERY reasonable price…1/2 the price WalMart charges.

    No solar flashlight I’ve found equals the BOGO light…truly state of the art. They’ll give one to a charity of your choice when you buy one for yourself.

    As much as I like to avoid WalMart, they do have a nice array of simple and cheap LED lights and a few “crank dynamo” models at very reasonable prices (as does Camping Survival).

    I’m not planning on being able to refrigerate or freeze anything, except perhaps in the winter months.

    I just finished S M Stirling’s novel “Dies the Fire”, which gives some perspective on what a society might do if utilities suddenly, catastrophically and permanently failed. Available cheap from http://www.betterworldbooks.com, a site definitely worth investigating!

    Wish you all well in days to come.

  21. Momof3on 11 Mar 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I hope someone here can point me in the right direction. I live in the Pacific Northwest, we need heat about 8 months of the year. My house has a standard fireplace which is worthless as far as heating the house. My choices are a)a woodburning fireplace insert that needs no electricity, or b)a pellet burning fireplace insert that does require electricity.

    The pellet stove just seems so more efficient. Its clean and neat and produces very little ash.

    The woodburning stove requires me to chop kindling and buy firewood. And constantly clean up the ashes. but it requires no power.

    I would like to turn off my gas furnace several days of the week during the winter months and heat the house with a fireplace insert to save money.

    In the 6 years we have lived here, I can’t recall any long power outages. I have talked to people who have either unit, and none of them seem to regret their choices.
    So which one would be the right choice? The cost difference seems minimal. When making this decision should I really take into consideration if I invest in a pellet stove, that there won’t be electricy around to run it? I do not plan on getting a generator. ?

  22. Claireon 11 Mar 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Since my husband and I by choice live on very little money, the “gadget” solutions (large batteries, inverters, solar panels) aren’t of much use to me. Also, when we had the two storms in 2006, all the gas stations lost electric service … people who had generators had to drive 20 or more miles to find a working gas station to get gasoline to run them. I don’t like batteries, even rechargeable ones, and I attempt to limit the number of battery-operated gizmos I use. In a pinch, I’d use them only for flashlights and a weather radio (we live in tornado country).

    For cooking, we have a solar oven which gets up to 330F even in mid-January on a sunny day. We have a Weber kettle and lots of dead branches … anyone besides me remember the old Girl Scout tin-can stoves? Upside down coffee can with vent holes on top and bottom. Put tinder and some kindling under the can, get a fire going. Cook your meal, something simple since you have the equivalent of a one-burner stove, in a pot on what used to be the bottom of the can. My DH likes and uses a propane camp stove for our occasional electric outages, but I’m glad we have the ability to cook without propane if we can’t or don’t want to use it.

    Clock: an antique wind-up clock my DH’s parents gave him. Works without batteries! I’ve found I don’t need an alarm if I tell myself before going to sleep what time I’m supposed to wake up, and make sure I’m sleepy enough to go to bed 7 or 8 hours before that.

    No electricity in summer: stay outside in the shade during the day, sleep in the basement at night, or go there during the day for awhile to cool down. We have one solar-powered lantern and some oil lamps, plus hand-crank flashlights, for a little light. I got an LED adapter for my mini-maglite and it works well. Cook only as much as we can eat at one meal, and use up whatever is in the fridge first (we always have cold packs in the freezer and plenty of coolers, so we can keep food safe for long enough to eat up what we already have). No electricity in winter: sleep a lot, stay in the basement (doesn’t go below 50F), wear lots of clothes including long underwear, keep food cold in the outside entrance to our basement (stays in the 30s or 40s from late November through early March). Not much fun, worse than no electricity in the summer, but doable.

    We collect rain water off the roof in food grade 55 gallon drums, have 8 of these in the basement. Right now we use the water for plants and to flush the toilet. In an emergency, we could filter, boil, and drink the water, and collect more the next time it rains. Gravity feeds the water to the basement drums via garden hoses from similar drums under our downspouts. We did buy one useful gadget: a hand-cranked pump for various-sized drums including 55 gallon drums. It cost about $33 at Harbor Freight; it’s plastic so water won’t corrode it (not food-grade plastic but the water won’t stand in it long). We pump the water into buckets and carry it where it’s needed. We water plants outside from the barrels under the downspouts, using hoses or sprinkling cans.

  23. Lizon 11 Mar 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Thank you, Sharon, for bringing up this important topic. I think dependence on electricity is one of the major weak links in our society.

    My approach has been to change our lifestyle to allow us to live without electricity, as much as possible. We do have on-grid power now, but also have wood heat and a wood cookstove. I’m about to rebuild the shade trellis we used to have (before a windstorm tore it up)–it lowered the temperature on the west side of the house a good ten degrees in the summer. The next project is to get a manual pump for the well. After that, we could survive without power if we had to.

    I worry about people who have no idea how to manage a home without electricity. Even if you can haul water from some common source, and have some way to cook, how many people know how to effectively wash dishes, wash their clothes, keep the house clean, without electricity? That’s why I have concentrated on learning to live without power, rather than looking for alternate sources.

  24. diy solar poweron 12 Mar 2009 at 12:11 am

    Since we are experiencing economy crisis right now, we ought to find ways on how to lessen our daily expenses. We all prioritize expenses at home and it’s really amazing to have this solar energy for our homes. It is great to save money from our electricity bills.

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