Monday, April 2, 2012

The next best thing to living off grid

Over the last week we've made some decisions to go back in time even more.  After realizing we had to fill the propane tank yet again, and wondering  how it went so fast, I decided it was time to make a change with my attitude towards our energy consumtion.  The price of propane keeps going up and we have to fill our large tank about twice per year, at twelve hundred dollars a pop I'd rather only fill it once per year.  As I took a long look at our indulgent consuming of energy as a family, I had to reassess what was important.  I'm happy to report that I've had a real paradigm shift over the last few days.  I excitedly talked with my husband first about it, and of course he was supportive, then I talked with the kids about it and we've decided to make a game of seeing how much we can save on our energy consumption, and how self sufficient with our power usage we can be.

After researching what uses the most energy, I discovered that my gas oven and range that I love is on the top of the list, right along with my propane clothes dry, and our on demand propane hot water in both the cabin and big house.  We have lots of dishes and laundry and I hadn't been thinking much about it as I filled the hot water into the sinks and ran the clothes dryer everyday, and took nice hot showers twice per day.  These are all just the propane users, and do not include our power use with lights, small heaters in the kids rooms, the toaster, dehydrator, refrigerators, and clothes washer, we don't own a microwave or dishwasher, thankfully. 

Just like our food bill, this is one area we can have direct control over and make some cuts to save money.  Know the things you can control and the things you can't.  Money represents time and work and is getting harder to come by and quicker to disappear in these times.  I don't know about you, but as we watch the chaos in the middle east and our own country totally out of control with it's debt, it's sobering to realize we're in way over our head as a country and no one knows how to fix it without major cut backs.  Cut backs that no one wants to change and make.  I think we're all aware our country could have a massive financial collapse if we keep going without correcting this problem.  Underlying concerns are one of the things that are causing us as a family to prepare the best we can for an uncertain future.  I know we can't control what's happening in our country on that scale, but in our own little world we can make the choices that are within our control. 

Sure we could continue consuming and work hard to pay for it all, like we always have, but now we've decided as a family to keep it simple in our life. I like the idea of going back in time with our thinking to a time when people knew how to live by their own power. 

So what are we doing differently.  We have a woodstove going everyday, so we're hanging our clothes to dry around it, and cooking over it as much as we can. We also pulled out an old wood cookstove we've had in the shop for years, one that we are going to work on and refinish so we can bring it inside for cooking and baking.  I love my gas stove and will still keep it all set up, I've just been unplugging it and turning off the gas, so the pilot light doesn't run continuously burning up precious fuel.  I won't be blow drying my hair, and the small heaters in the kids rooms are not going to be used, we'll each get 5 minute or less showers once per day.  I'm also keeping two large pots of water on the woodstove so when I do the dishes I can fill up the sinks with it.  Every little bit will help, and we all have an attitude of adventure in making these changes. 

This mindset of living from your own power is the next best thing to off grid living.  We're still connected to the power grid, it took my husband 15 years of living here without it before he got our property hooked up.  Now as I suggested making cut backs, he at first questioned putting up a clothes rack around the fire for many reasons including looks.  So he ended up thinking about it and made a removable rack with copper poles, that easily comes down when we have get togethers with friends and family.  He used materials that we had to make it and I am thrilled to be able to hang my clothes to dry for free.  When summer rolls around we'll set up our outdoor clothes line to hang laundry to dry.

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We continue onward with our journey to living more simply and self sufficiently.


C.R. Urban Homesteader's said...

My family lived off grid for several years when I was a teen and hope to one day get back to it but I hope to have solor instead of nothing at all. We have wood heat and propane and only used 300 gallons of propane all winter!

Jewel said...

Wow, now I feel like we've been really indulgent with our power usage, thus the reason we're all cutting back. Hope you can get back to off grid living, Thanks for visiting.

bluetick said...

Amen! I have been trying for the last couple years to control out usage and I never really realized how much I was saving until my sons family came to stay with us for a couple weeks. During their stay the dryer was used almost everyday and all appliances and lights were left on more. After they left and I got the next power bill our bill had gone up $30! That proved to me that I am really making a difference by the little things I do every day.