Sunday, June 1, 2014

Since we cain't get the solar...

because we won't cut the trees, I believe we are going to institute dire electricity saving measures until we can get our usage under control.
Long before we had children, back when we had time and the desire to watch television regularly, we saw a show on PBS about an off-grid family who lived in Alaska. They had a generator in which they stored some power that came from either fossil fuels or the sun. I really can't remember, but considering that it was Alaska, I'm going with fossil fuels that were brought in by bush plane every few months. With that generator they would run appliances, lights and their ancient DOS based computer for two hours every night. For the rest of the time the electricity was off. No vacuum. No dishwasher. No computer. No...nothing that required the juice of western civilization. I vividly remember the mom of the household running her vacuum and the kids playing some Pong variation on their computer during that carefully scripted time and thinking; "Whoa. That is hardcore." And yet, here I am, seriously considering limiting our electricity usage to two hours a day.
For those of you not in the know, our latest electric bill was an insanely unsustainable $400. This is not just for one month. This is the National Grid "budget plan" which accounts for your actual and projected monthly usage and calculates whatever it is that you owe them AND what they think you'll owe them in the near to distant future. I understand that our situation of Heat By Blowdryer, as my husband likes to call it, is tricky. Our house, at 3800 square feet, is pretty enormous for that kind of system. The woodstove is a big, honking Jotul and it does a bang-up job heating most of the space, but if we don't get up in the middle of the night to feed it, the house is freezing by morning. And since we generally don't get up, the heat kicks on in the middle of the night. Thus, the $400. As I said; unsustainable. Also, what you can't possibly know is that we ran out of propane this weekend and I am seriously pissed off because I can't cook a single thing. I mean, I cook...everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. You name it. It mostly comes from my grubby hands and the stove. Which runs on propane.
I am so tired of being tied to this ridiculous system of power, no pun intended here, that I can't stand it. I had two beautiful loaves of bread in the oven yesterday when the oven just...stopped, like there was a mini EMP in my house or something. And, yes, I know how to check the propane levels in our tanks, so thanks for your help.
Does anyone else find this reliance on systems that are beyond our control just a little bit like the user who needs the fix? I mean, seriously. We are all dead in the water without our utilities. Electric stoves? Propane stoves? Dryers? Washers? Dishwashers? Fridge? Freezer? Not to mention the endless gadgets that we all have and use so regularly. I can't even find an alternate way home from my son's school without the phone GPS when the road is closed because of construction/accident/powerlines down. All of which happened last week. Ridiculous! I complain about the Nanny State relationship between our government and the citizenry but I am just as much a slave to it as anyone. I'm, maybe, a little frustrated.
This idea has great potential but I have no idea how I would manage things like, oh, refrigeration and making sure that the tons of meat in the freezer doesn't spoil, on two hours of power a day. That could be a serious problem. Trucking in ice every day probably isn't going to cut it and certainly wouldn't contribute towards sustainability on either the energy or financial front. We would have to come up with a "Charging Your Gadget" system so that teens and pre-teens don't die in isolation and boredom and further allot the movie/television/wii exposure. I'll have to figure out a writing schedule that allows for email, Facebook and SheilaAnn Books and Music time. Drew will have to go to the office every day and what about the gas usage? And what about the phone? We got rid of our "wall" phone and now have the utterly ludicrous "cable phone" which is, of course, tied to the electric lines. And what about hot water? Laundry? Dishes? Showering? See what I mean? Civilized life is completely reliant upon all of these systems but what if those systems become either unavailable or unafforable? What if we don't want to use all of our money for them but would rather use it for enriching experiences like rafting down the Colorado River or learning to surf? What if we're just sick of feeling like we're being seriously skewered?
I don't think any of the issues that life without full-time electricity might present are insurmountable. I do think the experience will be a mighty challenge for all of us. But, hey. I'm always up for a new challenge and if we fail it will make for hilarious blog posts, won't it?!

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