Friday, July 04, 2008

The Micro Home As An Alternate Lifestyle by Walt Barrett

It is raining today so we will not be working on our demonstration model of an off grid micro home. I do not like wasting time so I have decided to make a few comments and express my views of the current mess we are in.
This morning when I turned on the news I heard that our local electric utility that our government allowed a foreign company to purchase has requested a twenty-one percent rate increase. At age seventy-five I have long since lost my idealistic beliefs in the honesty of our politicians on every level. We have been sold out! Many people that I speak with in my daily process of doing business feel betrayed and trapped by a system that has definitely spun out of control. They feel powerless to do anything to correct the problem because the politicians in both political parties appear to be corrupt, bought and paid for, or just plain stupid. It is obvious that any system allowing campaign donations is just a legal form of bribery that allows the big money guys to hold our congress and us all captive. We should make them stop!
Having said all that, I believe that one of the best ways that we can beat this situation where we are all slaves to the large energy companies is to keep finding ways to use as little fuel and electricity as possible. You don’t need to have a lot of money to accomplish this. As a matter of fact you can save money by fighting back. Every time a light bulb blows out simply replace it with an energy saving bulb that uses a fraction of the watts (power), and if you shop carefully you can find them at the large box stores on bargain specials. Of course, you can save the most money by simply turning all unnecessary lights and appliances off. Many appliances are now power on all the time type which is very wasteful. There are power strips available that you can plug several items into and then shut them all off at once. I am now always shutting off or putting my computer on sleep mode when not using it. Mostly I shut it off.
One of the biggest wastes of fuel I have ever seen is that many of the people I know seem to look for reasons to hop in the car and run to the store etc. with no planning, rhyme, or reason. It is a known fact that the fuel business is a supply and demand business and even a ten percent drop in fuel usage would affect the prices.
I have oil hot water heat in my home and I found that my service man had the water temperature cranked up to 200 degrees F. Wintertime water temp is usually 180 degrees F. I have also turned the temp down to 125 degrees for the summer because the only reason the boiler is running for is to make hot water. It is saving a great deal of oil but running the boiler in the summer is very wasteful. We cannot have a solar hot water heater because we are on a heavily treed north slope. Our entire lot is shaded by our neighbor’s trees and he is not about to cut them down. I can’t say that I blame him and I would not even ask!
I’m seriously considering building a new all solar off the grid micro home elsewhere for myself. Our town is so poorly managed, or should I say mismanaged that we are being literally taxed out of existence. Any normal retiree can no longer afford to live in the town. If we ran our businesses the way they run this town we would be broke in a month!
Elderly people are leaving the town in droves to move into the elderly housing (brick prison cells) in the nearby cities.
All of the above is the reason that we have embarked on this off the grid micro home project. If we receive enough positive response, we will set up an assembly line to mass-produce them. It is definitely an alternate life style. Personally, I was raised in a micro sized home with no utilities for many years until we got power and indoor plumbing. Power and plumbing are no longer a problem. We have been involved in solar for over thirty-five years, and on a micro sized basis it’s relatively cheap. We have a person in Utah (link on our blog) that is spending only $200.00 a year to heat and power his micro home. Unless you are really quite well of you should seriously consider downsizing. My own particular daydream is to have a micro home in a rural low tax town in Maine for the summer and another one in a warm climate for the winter. We could actually move the solar electric modules back and forth if we wanted to go to the bother. Thanks to the Internet, we can run our business anywhere, as will many of you. With a micro home you can just kick back and live more easily on your pension. We know it’s not for everyone, but for many, there may not be any choice. It’s a good thing to think about anyway. It’s never too soon to plan for your future. If you don’t, who will?
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