I did a reply to dio and the darn reply was longer than some of my post. I thought I might let you all know what I have done to get backups for all my energy items as my home is all electric. My electricity costs have not gone up much even though we have 4 major rate hikes in the last 2 years and I live in a cheap electricity state.
The first thing is getting your electric use as low as possible. That means turning off lights and electronics when you leave a room. I use a lot of those surge protector strips and turn off my electronics at the strips to stop vampire loads. I was already a “light Nazi” but using the power strips save me about $5.00- $10.00 per month. If something has a clock or a remote it is a vampire load and unless you need it to stay on, turn it off. I turn off my Bedroom TV at the Power strip. If you can get strips with longer cords and you can hang them on the wall just like a light switch or place them where the are convenient to turn off, not on the floor or behind some desk or entertainment center
If you can swing the price or get the feds to pay for it, get insulation for your home. You can get the government to do it even if you are a renter or a home owner and are at 200% of the poverty level, even higher in some states. I try to stay off the dole as much as possible but as the Government is creating this problem you have to try and minimize how badly you get hammered on costs. Get it done now because it will get worse in the near future. This can make a huge difference in summer and winter on your total costs to heat and cool. I’d say I got about a $20.00 per month savings on electricity almost every month after the insulation was finished.
Blinds and heavy insulated curtains or window quilts. I know a lot of folks use plastic for insulating windows but if you have a set of blinds and insulated curtains you will do about the same insulation value if you have decent windows. If your windows are really old or bad the Government might replace them during the insulation “weatherization” process. Air is one of the best insulators and if you can create a series of air pockets with your blinds and curtains you can do okay even with older windows.
Using your windows for heating and cooling. In the winter open the curtains and get the sun light streaming into your home with your south facing windows. In summer close those windows blinds/curtains and open the North facing ones for cool air at night and early morning. Use fans as much as possible as they are a lot cheaper than air conditioners. Try to create circulation by having a fan blow in cool air from one side of the house and the hot air is blown out another window on the hot side if possible. A couple of ceiling fans in a small home will help circulate air in summer and winter and they are a great buy for around $25-$50.00 at your big box stores.
A friend works in a coffee shop and they get coffee in 50+ pound Burlap bags and I’m going to try and build a modified swamp cooler for my windows using those bags and the water I can collect via my rain barrels. I live in hi-desert so humidity is low and though it may get hundred + during the day it cools quickly at night.
One of the biggest energy hogs in your home is your clothes dryer. Getting some rope and clothes pins for drying in the summer and a small rack for winter can save a lot of money in energy cost. Watch out hanging your colors in full sun as it can bleach the colors. If they feel a little stiff put them in the dryer set on tumble dry and they should soften nicely and without heat your dryer is a lot easier on your electric bill.
Playing the time, if you have a regular or a smart meter you can get a lot better price per kilowatt hour if you can do any energy intensive work between 9 pm and 6am. My dishwasher has a timer on it so I can wash my dishes at 2 AM rather than after diner when most folks do their dishes. If you can cook outside via BBQ, Grill or solar oven in the summer you not only save electricity done during a peak hours but it keeps your home cool. In the winter your baking and cooking inside can help keep the house warm.
If you can’t afford a wood stove or if wood is to expensive get one of those little Mr. Buddy stoves with the fan. I have about 1000 square ft. on my home and even without a fan it did a great job when I tested it last winter. I got about 6 hours of heat using just a 1 pound propane bottle and it took my house from 50 degrees to 65 degrees in 45 minutes on high and then I put it on low to maintain the heat. It was 18 degrees outside when I tested! Plus the Mr. Buddy stoves have oxygen sensors and a safety features so you don’t get dead using them. I have one of those kerosene stoves but I’d only use that stove during the day to just warm the house up as they do emit carbon monoxide and that is a silent killer.
Last but not least I buy 50 pound bags or Mesquite chunk charcoal for $14.00 per bag. It works great for smoking and BBQ and store about 250 pounds and that will give you enough for at least 1 hot meal per day for a year! I have one of those Camp Chef, propane camp stoves with both and oven and 2 burners. I’m not how much it uses per hour as I will be doing some tests this summer,both inside and outside. I think it will work great for canning outside later this summer and help keep the house cool.
Of course my little RV has a backup kitchen, bath and hot water tank. So if all electric goes out I can still get by in some comfort. Along with the RV 5 kw generator and a backup 3.5 kw generator that run on gas. I keep about 25 gallons of real gas for them as well as for my vehicles as backup. The generators are only for short term emergencies or to keep things powered long enough for me to preserve my frozen stuff. They are not a long term solution.
The long term solutions for me is solar and wood for the home. I have two 20 watt solar panels I need to wire/install in the RV. I’m buying wood (cheap mill ends) in June and working on a wood stove + installation for the house. I will need more solar panels and good (and expensive) batteries for the solar array for the house. I’m lucky I do have a basement and it’s comfortable in both summer and winter as it maintains an average temp. around 55-60 degrees with the furnace off. Not that bad at all based just on heat from the ground and it insulation value. I use my basement as a giant cooler in summer a couple of fans directing the cool air up in the house can keep it around 80-85 degrees “upstairs” even if it is 100+ degrees outside. The bad thing with my CIDP is my temp. tolerance has gone way down and 78-80 degrees is my high end for average living conditions and 75 in summer and 65 in winter is about the best I can do because of this damn disease. But if my modified swamp cooler works I might be able to do that this year and not use my central cooling air conditioner.
Alternate lighting I have talked about getting those little solar lights but I think getting some good kerosene/oil lamps and fuel will give you much better lighting for the long term compared to candles. Adding some little mirrors behind those lights will give you some additional feeling of comfort as well as reflecting the light around. Some folks do a little solar array and get 12 volt DC lighting or LEDs. I’ve read it works great though the bulbs can get a little pricey on initial costs. If things go dark some folks will freak out and they won’t all be little kids. Having just a little glow from a solar light might keep some folks from panic. Heck if you stand out to much by having stuff just put install your contractor trash bags so you can roll them up during the day. VELCRO STRIPS
Wow! I think I may have pushed one of my own buttons on this energy thing. I do worry a lot about electricity not because I’m so dependent on it but because our society is so dependent.