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Journal zogger's Journal: Untethering from the Utility Monopolies 14

Many more people are choosing to go "off the grid", untethering from traditional utility connections like electricity, natural gas, even municipal water and sewer, in whole or in part. Reducing demand while increasing your personal production of power can lead to energy independence, plus more security, and in a lot of cases, just plain more comfort.

Most off the grid people approach this situation from both ends, going to eliminate demand by wise construction techniques, using a lot more insulation, better windows, planned air in and out,etc. This drops the normal high level demand that most homes have and is the number 1 utility bill, for heating and cooling. Following similar steps, it is quite possible to enjoy all the niceties of modern life, without being part of the problem of massive fossil fuel use, along with eventually eliminating that monthly bill you can never pay off the traditional way of staying tethered. Another advantage is that these systems work-when the main centralized system doesn't.

They also mention in the article the concept of buyers clubs, getting together with other folks and negotiating bulk buy discounts for such things as solar PV panels, etc. The food co-op model taken to energy, which I have advocated in the past as one good way to reduce upfront costs. Another way to go there is the step by step method, just replace one circuit at a time, starting with your most critical "needs to work all the time" circuit.

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Untethering from the Utility Monopolies

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  • I know that many of Zogger's readers think he is a bit extreme, but just to show an example:

    I am already off-grid as far as water and sewer go: I have a well, and a septic field. I don't live in the backwoods: I live in a new suburban area just outside Wichita; my house was build in 2000. It is just that the developer chose to NOT connect to rural water and sewer to minimize the "specials" (taxes to support those very things). My utilities are electric, phone/DSL, satellite TV, cell, and propane. One could

    • generator (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zogger ( 617870 )

      Is your generator propane, or dual fuel? I am thinking of converting one of mine and installing it near our propane tank as well, and then doing a sub panel for-yes you got it, for the water well, then the kitchen area next to hit the freezers and fridge. Or maybe just the whole house and a transfer switch be smart about using it if I need to use it for a day or three. (mine is small, 5500 watts peak, 3500 sustained).

      Since we switched to almost all wood heat (stored solar fusion!ha!), I have 250 gal

      • My generator is just a plain old gas generator I got reasonably cheaply. I did the math on the outages I've had - two outages longer than a flicker, one for a couple of hours, one for a week after the ice storm of 2005 - and decided that the cost of a larger propane genset wasn't justified. It's wired in as simply as possible while still being to code: there's whats known as a transfer interlock, which is just a metal bar between the main breaker and a secondary breaker to the generator, making it impossibl

      • I'm really glad I friended you from your comment under the MS/Apple thread. This is a fantastic read.

        A long time ago (okay, maybe not that long since I'm not even 30 yet--so try about 4 or 5 years ago), I used to think that the views you espouse here were a little on the lunatic fringe.

        Then I got a bit older and started thinking about our society and many of the things you point out slowly started to trickle into my mind. I guess the "moment of epiphany," as it were, was when I was reading some history on R

        • Welcome, Neo. Now, see how far the rabbit hole goes...


        • That's my term from what you have noticed, we went from royal kings to the new aristocracy, people are born into debt to the technofeudalistic elite, the bankers and credit issuers, who are the string pullers for their puppet politicians in every party, who are allowed to create money from thin air and then loan it at interest to everyone else. they control the money, the pwnz everything else, control the politics, everything. the onlyway to beat the system is to not play in the system, to get independent a

          • That's my term from what you have noticed,

            Indeed it is. I enjoy it so much, that I've been using it fairly frequently; though, my use of it has been limited to a small circle of friends and family over the course of about two months when the lightbulb upstairs finally turned on. It took a while for me to realize that we're really no more free than our ancestors--we're just slaves of a different sort--and as you pointed out, it's a perfect example of how well our society is structured to hide uncomfortable t

    • Save your pennies for a bit of nostalga []. If you insist on electric, put a tank on your roof, and hope the winters don't get too cold.. Maybe keep the tank in an attic? For your internet/entertainment, and communications needs outside of amateur radio, you will always be on the corporate leash..

      • Ya, for short term I would like the genny to do it. For extended periods no large scale electricity available (x class solar event whatever) I have a "bore bucket" handy. You strap an old truck rim to the side of the well casing. Now attach a chain/rope to the well pipe. Now disconnect that thing. Now drive slowly away from the scene with your tractor or truck or car with that attached chain or rope, it slides nice an easy over that smooth round rim (assuming you don't have rigid pipe,,then..this is really

        • Make your life easy, and put up the water tower. You'll only have to do it once. A float valve will insure it stays topped off. I just don't know if it would freeze in the wintertime where you are. If you put a great big fat pipe on there, it will also serve to put out a fire in hurry.

    • You don't have to go completely off the grid t benefit.

      Energy reduction - the #1 energy user is the car. I went "off the grid" over a year ago in that respect. It's still parked in the garage. With some of the money I saved, I bought a nice bicycle. This gets me the exercise I need - that 20km trip to the store yesterday was a case in point. (Yes, there are stores that are closer - 1 within a 2-minute block, and 2 shopping complexes within 2 km., but variety is good).

      Heating and electricity - reduce cool

      • Use public transit. Avoiding it because of bad service?

        No, it's usually avoided because of no service, especially on the second and third shifts. And the people who could use it the most have no economic or political clout against an automobile industry that actively campaigns against it.

        • And the way around that is?

          1. Move closer to work, or to a job where there is public transit servic.
          2. Telecommute.
          3. Get involved with municipal politics and explain why working public transit increases property values and attracts business.

          Those are just 3 off the top of my head - they might not be the ultimate solution, but it sure beats saying "can't be done." :-)

          • Dang I used to have THE slickest alternative transportation. rode the heck out of it, just dang fun and dang practical. It was a tiny little engine that bolted on to the front forks of any bicycle, then had a rubber drive wheel that cammed over with a lever, it bump started then, you had a throttle lever, give 'er the gas, zoom zoom zxoom! I mean WHEEEEE! HAHAHA! first time I tried it out all I did was crack a smile. Thing was great, got 200 MPG (!!!!), would push me and some stuff on the rack, like, you, w

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry