Massive energy investment begining at my little Casa de Chaos Part II

Now bringing the heat!  I really like solar because it will collect energy with no input from me besides my initial set up and cost.  I think you should work with the sun collecting heat passively in the winter and mitigate it in the summer. But solar energy sucks when it comes to powering any heating or cooling appliance unless you can afford a very big solar panel array and a huge battery bank.  So you have to go old school and look at wood and oil based products for staying warm.

My home is all electric  from light to heat,  hot water to my air conditioner and since I live in SW Idaho and most of our power is generated by Hydro dams, power here is very cheap compared to the rest of the country.  But I have no control over my power!  With the addition of smart meters I’m at the mercy of the utility and they can literally cut me off at anytime if they feel the need.

How many of us have seen a public utility beg the average customer to save and conserve and as soon as the customer saves and conserves the utility hikes the rates because “they” aren’t making enough profits? That doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about any utility companies.  So you need to have a back up plan for basic power and heat not just in a disaster, but for everyday life so you can control your environment.

For backup non-electric lighting I recommend Kerosene or paraffin oil lamps.  Not perfect, but with the use of mirrors to reflect the light it will do the job. Figure on storing about a gallon per month for a year and a little extra just in case. I store 15 gallons in mostly 5 gallon cans. In the summer you probably won’t use the lamps at all, but in winter you will use the lamps quite a bit and that should give you at least a couple of hours of good light to get stuff done.  If you read the post about using solar yard lights for night lights and charging batteries for flashlights you can be alright for lighting. If you make a small solar generator like I am doing you could add one low wattage light to the mix. Remember you don’t get as much sun in the winter so I would never depend on solar power in the winter.

Next comes staying warm as well as cooking and heating water. I started out kind of on the cheap side but propane is great for heating and cooking. It is one of the safest fuels to store and most people have used it via gas grills or with camp stoves. Now those items are fine for cooking you don’t want to use them indoors heating your house. For heating I would recommend the Mr. Buddy type heaters.  The Mr. Buddy heaters are chock full of safety equipment and sensors that make them safe for indoor use.  I have tested mine at 20 degrees F. and 0 degrees F. and they will keep a well insulated home at 50-65 degrees F. and a 15 pound tank will last about 5 days at 0 degrees outside and you turn it off at night. The Big Buddy Heater comes with a fan to circulate the heat and you will feel warmer if the heat is pushed out from the heater. These are all numbers based on my real world tests at the temps I had in winter in Idaho.

The Mr. Buddy heater costs about $80-$100 brand new and the average 15 gallon propane tank is about $45-50 filled with propane. It may not seem all that cheap to start out from having no back up heat source you control, but once you have the tanks they are much cheaper to refill. I have not found a cheaper,  more effective or safer backup heater than the Mr. Buddy type in all my five years prepping for low start up costs.  Don’t be cheap on being safe for heating and lighting. Getting dead because you didn’t pay attention basic safety precautions is as dumb as playing tourist during the Rodney King riots.

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2 Responses to Massive energy investment begining at my little Casa de Chaos Part II

  1. riverrider says:

    j, i use wall mounted non-electric propane heaters available at northerntool and others. they are much more efficient than the buddy’s and you can get most propane companies to set a 100 gallon tank and run the lines for little to nothing. a 10k btu is okay for small house/large room or 25k btu for whole house. i used about a tankfull a year keeping the house toasty. just a few degrees cooler would last closer to two years. the heaters run 100.00 for 10k, 150/200 for a 25 or 30k. they even have some that look like fireplaces. they run them on sale in fall and clearance in spring. you can get a fan kit for them but i haven’t needed it. i had a buddy heater nearly kill us in the cabin. the cabin was built “too tight” and the heater burned up all the oxygen. it has a cutoff switch but it failed. woke up gasping for air, not a good feeling. jm2c.

    • Jamie says:

      river, My Mom got one the propane fireplace and I have to say it does a great job plus it looks very nice. What has me concerned is the propane availibility here in Idaho as all refineries are out of state.
      I had good luck using my Mr. Buddy heater but I always shut it off at night to save fuel. It would be chilly when I woke up in the AM but I can deal with that and my pipes are well protected so I didn’t need the heater to keep them from freezing.
      I have an upcomming post on going with a wood fireplace for winter heat/backup cooking.

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