Monday, November 28, 2011

(DF) THE NECESSITY OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY IN A SELF-SUSTAINING LIFESTYLE

***advance soap box warning*** This is a subject I am likely to get adamant about, so if I get on my soap box and rant and rave a bit, please bear with me. The points I will try to bring forward may be of interest.

In a society such as ours, where electricity has been readily available for many years, far too few people can remember not having it readily available. All sorts of appliances and electronic gadgets fill most homes, some very convenient, others merely annoying. Unfortunately, many of these appliances and gadgets have come to be considered a necessity of life.

This brings us to the real point of this post; energy dependence and the power utility companies have over our lives. Anyone on the grid depends on the power company to provide power to run the aforementioned electrical equipment, (thus the energy dependence). The power the utility company has over us is simple, you pay the company or they cut of the power. In most cases the company you get your power from is the only game in town, so you can't shop around; you simply pay what they ask, or do without.

Friday, the mail carrier brought me a strong reminder of just such facts in the form of my electric bill. Finances being what they are, I had paid the last bill a couple of weeks late, but still before receiving the next bill. It seems I had been one day late a couple of other times in the past year, so my bill now includes a new deposit. This deposit amounts to about four average months of electric usage above the regular charges, so my bill this time is five times the normal bill.

When I consider that I have paid my electric bill every month for the past 25 years without once having my power cut off for non-payment, this seems a bit like an insult. It is nothing personal, of course, this is the way they treat anyone who is late, with no consideration of circumstances or how good the customer has been.

The question is; What can we do about it? The answer is simple; give up electricity or get it somewhere else. But wait, they are the only game in town. Or are they? Fact is, I like a hot shower as much as anyone, and a freezer is nice, (especially when there is plenty of meat). I also enjoy having the fridge, lights, well pump and without the computer I would not be getting this information to you. The welding machine and a wide variety of power tools also come into the mix making the lack of electricity more than a minor inconvenience.

Alright, enough of the soap box. The fact is that it doesn't matter if the way things are currently handled is right or wrong, convenient or inconvenient. This is the way it is RIGHT NOW and it is up to each individual to decide how to, (or whether to), change it for themselves.

For some time, I have been looking for information on alternative energy. There is a flood of information on the net and it can get a little confusing, but the search can be worth it. There are also people out there who have put together courses on about anything you could ask for, but be careful to check reviews. There are always those who are just out for a buck mixed in with those who are legitimate. My main focus on alternative energy has been in the areas of passive solar, solar electric and wind. I am hearing some talk of geothermal but haven't checked into it yet. I have also checked into methane production, but it is pretty dangerous if not done properly, so be careful if you take this path.

Of course, there is the alternative of learning the techniques for living without electricity. I have taken this path in the past and am not opposed to doing it again, if need be, but a little preparation would certainly be in order before making such a drastic shift. Heating and cooking with wood heat, pumping water by hand and washing clothes by hand require some work but are not that bad. Preserving all the food one normally puts in the freezer, and keeping things from spoiling that would normally be in the fridge takes some planing and research. Working with manual hand tools instead of power is a whole set of skills unto itself.

Bottom line: Whatever choices we make, our level of self-sufficiency and, to some extent, our freedom depends on the power company and how we choose to deal with them.

2 comments:

  1. I hope you don't mind if I borrow your soapbox for a sec....I think alt.energy is a timely subject. Things are only going to get worse... I would have a difficult time convincing you of this right now, but the root of the problem is twofold, and neither is the stupid power companies. One arm of the culprit is the American culture of immense waste and the other is the federal government who keeps making inane regulations. Between those two things, the stupid power companies don't know what to do...so they pick on their customers!!! Anyway, you could go off-grid right now with a generator, but really all your doing is changing your bondsman. The sun IS free, when the clouds are not in the way, as is the wind when it blows! There are several thousand Amish within a 10 mile radius of me and none of them use electricity or petroleum. It is possible to live well without it. So, I believe, we have to wean ourselves from this short-lived luxury. I just don't think any less expensive alternative MIRACLES will appear. Thanks, and here's your soap box back!

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Mary. You make some very valid points and I find very little to disagree with. For the long term, there is no doubt we have to learn to live in ways that do not allow others to have leverage, (and that is in every aspect of life, not just energy). For this reason, I have spent many years getting tools that do not require energy and learning to use them, (and how to make them, for that matter. In the end it will come to the level of make it or don't use it, grow it or don't eat it, etc., and that will be the point of true self-sufficiency.

    As for the power company, as you say, they are not the problem. However, they do lobby the government for passage of certain laws that ARE part of the problem. It all goes hand in hand to hold people in this dependent status we are currently in, at least until we choose to break free of it.

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