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The Hybrid Approach – A Little is Better Than Nothing

Wind Turbines

Whenever we set ourselves a goal to “go off grid”, whether the grid means electricity, water, food, or something else, we face a task that is in all probability high unlikely to be accomplished, and maybe impossible, at least at in the short-term. When we finally face that reality we usually become discouraged and just give up or file it along with our other pipe dreams. I have been there. I have also been learning an important principle – a little is better than nothing.

We must stop thinking in terms of “getting off the grid” and more in terms of gaining some measure of independence, no matter how small and then go from there. At first glance, this idea seems ludicrous. After all, if we are still attached and dependent on an electric grid, food supply grid, etc., we are still dependent on them. That is true, however, we must consider the level of dependence as well. When we account for that factor, we begin to see that any measure of independence, no matter how small, will not only lead to greater independence in the future (progress toward our goal), but also vastly increases our security by decreasing our … Read the rest

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Some Winter Tips

Frozen Tire

I have been coming across various tips on dealing with wintertime issues. Some of them are pretty good. Some are not. I have done some investigation and can pass along some tips that you can trust.

De-Icing Windshields

Sometimes, it is better to use a commercial product than a DIY alternative. De-icing windshields is such a case. Alternative recipes abound on the ‘net, including ones using vinegar or rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol mixed with water. These products can de-wax or otherwise damage your car’s paint. Commercial products are inexpensive and safe for your car. It is penny-wise and pound foolish to not use a common inexpensive product on a multi-thousand dollar car.

Some other tips include:

  • Raise your wipers when you come home at night. It makes the windshield that much easier to scrape.
  • Pre-warm your car several minutes with the defroster running before going out with the scraper.
  • Cover the windshield when you come home.

Starting Fires the Easy Way

Starting a fire in a wood stove is somewhat of an art. We have found that if you surround the small kindling fire with large blocks of wood (basically making a wall surrounding the fire), it reflects the heat and … Read the rest

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The LED Lighting Revolution – A Primer

White LED

A lighting revolution is coming. LEDs will usher it in, but the road may be rocky along the way. Why? Because LEDs are a radically different type of lighting than what we are used to. For them to be used effectively, we need to change our way of thinking about lighting.

The Problem

LEDs are so different from Edison-style incandescent bulbs, that trying to create a drop-in replacement is problematic. This article in particular points out that current LED offerings have poor color spectrum, poor luminosity, and poor reliability. Ouch – they don’t sound very good at all, at least as screw-in replacements for a hundred year-old technology. While I think that they will eventually achieve a screw-in replacement that is fairly decent (look at this innovative offering from Phillips as an example), this pursuit is really the wrong approach. If you want to learn more about how LEDs work and how we can create some really special lighting that is hard or impossible to do with yesterday’s technology than read on. The best thing about LEDs is that the technology to solve our lighting problems is not in the future. It is available today. You just need to know … Read the rest

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Lower Your Heating Bills – Comparing the Cost of Heat Sources

Outdoor Furnace

With today’s constantly fluctuating costs for energy, it is more difficult than ever to determine the best way to heat your home or shop. Being able to compare the costs of different sources of heat can be very helpful in lowering the high prices of dispelling the discomfort of a frigid Winter. To that end, this tutorial will help you understand how to evaluate energy sources and convert their prices into a standard unit for comparison.

Understanding Heat Energy

As with most measurements, there are two different units used for quantifying the amount of heat: BTU and kilocalories. I prefer to work in BTUs, so that is the unit I will use for this discussion. The term BTUs stands for British Thermal Units. It is a very handy unit to use for heating calculations. It is defined as the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. To use a very simple example, if you want to boil a gallon of 72 degree tap water, you would need: 8 (pounds) \times (212-72) (^{\circ}F) = 1120 BTUs of heat.

Another useful unit for representing energy (not just heat) is the kilowatt-hour. A watt is a unit of power, and watt-hour is a unit … Read the rest

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The End of Peak Oil

This stunning article asserts that the era of  “fossil fuels” may not be near the end, but at the beginning. New technologies are permitting the recovery of vast lower grade deposits of gas and oil that contain enough energy to last for centuries. This new development does not even take into account the abiogenic theory of oil formation. This theory holds that oil deposits are not fossil fuels at all, but are being continually produced by ongoing natural processes within the earth. While rejected by western geologists, this theory has experienced a resurgence and is credited with providing Russia the abundance of oil it now enjoys.

Regardless of the means by which energy is discovered and recovered, this good news vindicates yet again that people are our greatest assets. Here at ProvideYourOwn, we reject the overpopulation dogma. It is not resources we lack, but imaginative minds, willing hands, and freedom to create and enjoy the fruit of our labor. These things have given the world the prosperity it now enjoys, and it is these things we must cherish and reclaim if we are to see it continue.

Notwithstanding these developments, we still favor the development of individual energy supplies … Read the rest

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The Coming Energy Revolution

With ever rising energy prices and the constant talk of peak oil, the future appears to be very grim. Entire segments of our society are so sure of the demise of modern life that they are already planning for a post-oil era – a time when energy is scarce and expensive.

I hate to be the one to disappoint them, but while we are entering a post-oil era, it is not an era of scarcity. Just the opposite. Instead of reverting back to horse and buggy in the not too distant future, energy will become so abundant that the need for crude oil will go the way of the need for whale oil. How can I make such a fantastic claim, especially when all the facts seem to be to the contrary? The answer is simple – there are massive changes under way that will dramatically change the way we obtain, store and transmit energy. They are plain to see if you know where to look, but very few people are looking. Instead, they are focused on the old sources and paradigms. The new sources and paradigms are gaining steady headway and soon will overtake the old ones. When … Read the rest

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