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Thursday, February 5, 2015

frugal living 12


FRUGAL LIVING 12

SHELTER

UNDERGROUND

Not only is living underground cheap ( the bible is “The $50 & Up Underground House” ), it is a great way to avoid paying out of your rectum for heating and cooling.  Not only is it cheaper, if one day you discover that your kilowatt hour cost just went from fifteen cents to sixty-five ( as happened recently in Alaska ), that accompanied by brownouts, or anything at all disrupts overseas oil imports ( as happened in the 70’s more than once and can easily happen again with today’s political turbulence ), not needing much in the way of utilities can literally save your life.  Plus, as is more pertinent to this present conversation, it makes for a nice companion to frugal living.  I used five gallons of propane for December and January combined for both cooking and heating ( mostly because one compliments the other ) in my underground hovel.  Granted, a mild winter here in eastern Nevada as it only got below zero once, but even in far more severe conditions, in one of those “storm of the century” events two years ago when it was minus fifteen every day for two weeks, AND at a time prior to the most current wife leaving me heat was needed while I was at work instead of just a few hours in the evening, even then I only used double that amount.  Living underground makes winters far more tolerable.

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Of course, I won’t blow sunshine up your ass even though that seems to be what most readers demand of their authors.  Living underground is claustrophobic, damp and dusty.  But it ain’t cold and it ain’t hot.  If you are living in Florida or California, underground living is stupid.  You gain far more by living in the breeze.  But in any area where winter sucks, it will be near mandatory.  My hole in the ground cost around $1200, mainly because I dug it out by hand rather than hire a backhoe ( the costs were primarily lumber, with $200 being nails and plastic, another $200 in insulation, give or take ).  It took a year, near every day after work and on the weekends, but it cost me a Mattock pick and a shovel-$30.  I did need a wheelbarrow once I could no longer throw the dirt up far enough, but that was only about $35 on clearance ( for once, a Wal-Mart item lasted past a single job ).  Everyone acts shocked and surprised I chose to forego renting a piece of equipment-these are same people who get in their car to go a block- but for po’ folk, manual labor is cheaper than machines ( Mexican Backhoe is a guy with a shovel ).  This isn’t your traditional underground hovel.  I don’t have three feet of dirt on the roof that requires far more material for its weight.  I just insulated the roof well, threw on some thick plastic sheeting and covered that with an inch of dirt to keep the plastic out of the sunlight which would degrade it.  So, no, I don’t have a year round 55 degrees.  My summers see 70 downstairs, my winters 40-45.  Without heating or cooling ( cooling is pretty easy, even NOT underground, but really only with a backhoe.  You need to go down near ten feet and a hundred feet long to get a buried pipe [ the wide sewer pipe] to draw cool air through, and it only takes a small 12v car fan to draw the air up and in ).  Which as you can see means a very small amount of propane keeps the place much warmer than if you were aboveground ( still only around fifty degrees for that small amount of fuel, so you will need to keep wearing sweaters- and showers are a bit brisk.  But remember, these are bare bones budget figures.  I’m sure you can afford more propane to keep the wife happy ).

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Now, this is for a very small underground structure.  I dug a ten by twenty pit six feet down, but the wooden structure inside that is only six by twelve.  It is a room, not a house.  In the day I move upstairs to the trailer which I use as a sunroom, primarily.  I also bath up there as much as possible as doing so downstairs is a big pain ( I was on a limited budget building downstairs and have no bathroom ), mostly being a messy sponge bath.  Upstairs is also where all but the basics in food and clothing are stored so that downstairs stays uncluttered.  On cold and overcast days I’m stuck downstairs, reading by a small LED book light since I can’t drain the main battery with almost no solar charging it.  It does at times get dreary ( and when the ex was still here, we got on one anothers nerves although that was less to do with the condition of the shelter than our relationship ).  Yet, having spent so much time in the RV in winter prior to the underground shelter, where conditions were simply Depression Era unemployed primitive and miserable, in comparison the problems are trivial.  You are still not perfect, but you are less imperfect. 

END 

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30 comments:

  1. And you don't have to dig the full height of your building underground either - you can berm with the hole leavings if you like and get nearly the same insulative value.3-4 feet down should provide enough dirt between the hole and the berming to reach 6-8 foot high.
    Me- I have more money than time for now, so will be renting machinery to make the hole, or buying a couple dozen truck loads of cheap gravel to dig into instead of the hard heavy clay we've got here.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Backhow, if you can afford it, is great. I don't recommend Mexican Backhow unless it is that or nothing. By any means, get er done! Yesterday. With Obammy in charge, the collapse is guarenteed to get here quicker.

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  2. Jeezis christ that sounds dismal, think I'd rather be in prison.
    Or my very well thought out 16'x16' with a few amenities.
    As with solar considerations, so a small domicile - cut back now, everywhere you can, to see how far you can go. I'm going full solar this summer because I spent the last 3 years cutting back to see how far I can go. In my 12'x24' office I currently have my tower, monitor, and speakers, and (2) Eneloop battery chargers plugged in, everything else is off. This is how I will spend 12 hours today, working. When it gets dark tonight I will fire up my small Coleman (3) AA (3) LED lantern and that will be the soul light source in here. If I get a new notebook I can shitcan the tower-monitor-speakers and cut my juice requirement by 50%. I have a small Procom wall mounted propane heater that keeps it in the 60's in here and the building is insulated with %13 in the walls and R38 in the ceiling. In the 16'x16' I'll build this summer there will be closed cell insulation in the walls, roof, and floor and I expect the heat fuel consumption to be slashed. Cut back now and adapt to it or get slammed in the future, your choice.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Dismal? No. In debt, hated job- that's dismal.

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    2. Totally agree. The debt and a job always one mistimed sneeze from being fired is dismal. I did the math- to pay off the principle of what my family owes, if we keep our current debts and lifestyle etc- 220 years, before the interest!!!! Oddly this closely reflects the US governments debt....

      Having shelter, water, heat and food for your family guaranteed? Priceless Peace of Mind.
      And, with a slashed cost of living temporary un (or long term under) employment is survivable. And one might even be able to pay down the debt chains (though bankruptcy is usually a better choice IMHO).

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    3. I see no moral stigma in bankruptcy. The credit was fraudulent, and is mainly a inflation tax others pay upfront ( in other words, they don't get a refund if you pay back the loan ). As far as "giving your word" by taking the loan, it isn't a bad thing to lie to a thief.

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  3. I would combine the pit-of-doom with the unibomber shack over the top of it. That could be a great little hovel. If I lived closer, I would come over and build it for you.

    I knew a guy who poured 8 inch concrete walls on all 4 sides of a long, narrow pit, and then parked a school bus over top of it. He put a trap door in the bus floor for going down into the pit. It warmed a preppers heart just to behold it, although this guy used it just as a hunting cabin.

    I still think you should get out of the frozen high desert and move to the Black Hills of South Dakota. A very mild climate ( snow, if you get any, melts within a week) and lightly populated but with a few Elko sized towns here and there. And a lot of Sioux squaws who would likely love a stud like you who isn't drunk 90% of the time. The Sioux are still poor but they do get free health care, so that would cover the childbirth costs for all the children the two of would have!

    I'm only half-joking.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I thought the Dakotas were like 40 below for weeks at a time and Canadian artic winds.

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    2. You will get used to it. With the price of oil low, you can afford to heat with it, but no jobs fracking it up at $140+ bbl.

      My great grandparents spent a couple winters in N.Dakota, and then kept going West to Portland. They hated the endless wind.

      pdxr13

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    3. Not the Black Hills. It's a unique micro-climate that covers the southwestern corner of South Dakota. The rest of the Dakotas? Forget it. Frozen tundra.

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    4. Why isn't it crowded? The Rez take up most of the land?

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    5. 604- endless wind here, too. The cold might actually be a good trade off for cheap farming, if water wasn't an issue.

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  4. Wow! You're still on this living in a grave, I mean hole in the ground?
    SHTF and along comes the raiders and toss in a Moltov or 2 or perhaps a large pipe bomb.
    Perhaps one of the alphabet agencies visit with the real boom booms.
    Or perhaps the military with the small 4 propeller drone that drops the 2 1/2 ounce package of C-4 that is being used in the Middle East now.
    Most of us have a mate that would not stick around for this psycho cave dwelling. But you already know first hand about that!
    No cave for me nor a shack that is based on a real psycho's living area.
    Go back to the basics from your earlier years, I can hear the doors slamming as most of your followers are going over to and back to the Rich Mans informative blog page. See Ya.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Most of the followers left have been with me through thick and thin. But perhaps you'll be leaving without reading this? A shame. You have valid points above, yet fail to take into account it is a FRUGAL shelter. Not a bomb shelter. Not a fortress. It is a place to live cheap. Built on a limited budget. You can't have it all.

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  5. Geothermal is the way to go for temperature regulation. Like Grey said, you can build down or up or a bit of both. Around here, the pit of doom would fill with water from below at some point during the year. The main thing is to have ground contact and then insulate well wherever you don't have ground contact.

    Any way for you to have a skylight-type opening somewhere to let in more light? Oehler's designs were never as dark and cave-like as you describe.

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    1. His were on a slope, mine on flat ground. I have the window next to the door. The other end up above where any leaks hit dirt, not wood. But small windows, actually glass tops from a set of end tables, so about 1x2 or thereabouts.

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    2. And if you insulate and water proof the ground over and around your hole you can achieve a 'P.A.H.S.' type warmed ground environment acclimating the ground around your structure to a temperature closer to what is comfortable to you.
      I.E. If the Best head of hair in the desert (talking about you Lord Bison!) were to cover not just the roof of his hole with Styrofoam panels alternating with plastic but out for a couple dozen feet on all sides around the hole, the internal temperature of his hole would climb on a year over year basis, until during the summer he would have to vent the excess heat. All it takes is the cheapest Styrofoam panels you can get (and they can taper in thickness/layers to the edge) and plastic, and putting them down and covered with dirt quickly enough not to blow away in the desert wind. Don't forget to slope them away from the structure a little so water doesn't pool and leak through (water carries heat away).

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    3. I styrofoam paneled the Test Pit, and 2x4 and fiberglass insulated the BPOD. I think both are about the same temp range.

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    4. Yes, but did you plastic and insulate the ground around them?

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    5. Not following "insulate the ground", so I'm obviously missing something here.

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  6. Too much water in the ground here for a cheap PoD. Maybe above grade cement with earth berms around the sides with a well insulated roof might work. I don't see any of that being cheap. I have seen a home built into a rock wall in the side of a old rock quarry. Your own deep water supply right out the front door. Again, not cheap. I'm screwed when the propane runs out or I can't afford it.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Why not Earth Bag building. A couple of hundred for the tubes ( not sure about stucco cost ), above ground.

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  7. http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/diy-skylights-from-used-water-bottles-replace-50-watt-bulbs.html


    works on flat roofs too!

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    1. Just beware the leaks. A shed, dirt floor, no problem. Otherwise...

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  8. “You need to go down near ten feet and a hundred feet long to get a buried pipe [ the wide sewer pipe] to draw cool air through, and it only takes a small 12v car fan to draw the air up and in ).”

    You can eliminate the need for the fan James by placing a vent pipe of adequate diameter in the ceiling that has been painted black. As the sun heats the pipe, warm air rises, pulling cool air through your underground pipe. This technique was one method of cooling employed by the Romans.

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    Replies
    1. I forgot our earlier discussions on that. Much better long term to negate electric.

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  9. Your Pit of Doom sounds awesome to me. You forgot to mention another plus (unless I missed something in description) its low silhouette does not cast shadows from the air nor stick up from the landscape, so people are much more likely to walk / drive / fly by without noticing it. No visitors - I like that!

    Any burrowing critter invasions ? My location is deep south Texas, hard up against the Mex. border. Many 'illegal visitors' here, so having a place hidden like that sounds like a good idea. Couple that with planet Mercury summer temperatures (Winters are mild, hardly ever freezes, with 100 YEAR snowfall) and those low temps sound pleasant.

    Thanks for the post - gives me much to think about.

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    1. People can walk right by it and not register it, and it isn't even stealthy.

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    2. Hungry people without cigarettes are much more motivated and observant. After a few months, these people will be more skilled at looking and finding.

      pdxr13

      Security that depends on the ignorance and failure to observe of the already-dead is not anything.

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    3. Even the deputies who showed up after the out-laws domestic dispute had to have it pointed out to them.

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