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Friday, February 27, 2015

frugal living 21


FRUGAL LIVING

UTILITIES
HEAT AND COOLING

One would do well to always remember and never forget that dependence on outsiders providing heating and cooling to you may cause more than poverty, but also ill health effects up to and including death ( the same goes for food, and while land for food production is too expensive to be realistic, storage food can be dirt cheap and will have to be Good Enough Insurance against famine and reliance on outsiders providing- see my other books for better details, specifically “PEE” ).  If you are living in an apartment in Chicago, and in the very near future the grid goes down for a week at a time or a desperately broke city taxes electricity out of your budget, you could die in the summer from heat stroke ( asphalt and concrete retaining excess heat ) or in the winter from the cold as the wind drains your dwelling of any and all trapped heat.  If you are living in Chicago, you are the largest flaming idiot of all time since the stupid bastards looking up at Vesuvius.  However, if you live in the semi-rural semi-suburbs of junk land ( you want to get away, but you need to be somewhat close to pedal to work and shopping ), you have complete control over providing your own heating and cooling.  Cheaply, and with usually no carbon fuels ( or, with a minimal amount you can do without in a pinch ).

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In my case, living underground pretty much takes care of both heat and cooling.  I’d like the summer to be a bit cooler than 75, and the winter to be a bit above 40 ( usually it is 45-50, with 40 after a bought of very cold ).  But it is good enough that in a severe contraction ( economically, shortages ) that I won’t die from the weather.  And good enough with just the slightest fuels added in the winter I’m much more comfortable.  However, if you want to invest just a smidge more, you can live frugal AND more comfortable.  Extra insulation is really no big deal.  Even if you only do one room, taking down the sheetrock and adding a second set of 2x4’s offset from the other wall ( to avoid the heat escaping -I’d even recommend sheets of rigid board set between the two walls as a third layer of insulation ), even if that doubled your interior materials cost for another $700 or whatever, this is not contrary to living frugal.  NOT insulating is contrary.  If you are building cheap to begin with, doubling insulation is affordable enough.  Putting a large window in a room facing south, with heavy drapes for night, should pay for itself in months.  Installing outside solar troughs with a solar fan forcing the air inside is cheaper still and doesn’t loose heat at night.  Try to design or modify with dirt and solar as your primary, with wood as a nice supplement that can be minimized if its use sees too much competition from neighbors with no solar or insulation.  And if all else fails, just make yourself a small dugout for $50 ( GET the book ) for emergencies of short duration or long ( the economy is guaranteed to get much worse, so no doomsday is necessary to need that investment ).

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Without air conditioning, and without water, you must go underground ( with water and a solar panel and a few inexpensive 12v fans you should be able to improvise a drip cooler.  Or just a fan to circulate the breeze.  In Florida for five years I lived just fine not by air conditioning but by tree shade.  Circulating fans did the rest ).  If you can’t or won’t build the home underground, you will need to hire a backhoe to dig a trench ten foot down and at least fifty long ( I’d go 100 unless that really is too expensive ) and lay down sewer pipe in a U.  At ground level away from the house, have an intake at ground level, screened ( otherwise something falls inside, dies and stinks ).  Down, then horizontal to the house.  Up through the floor, that opening screened ( or you drop valuables that will be hard to retrieve ).  Then, at the tallest part of your structure you have another pipe, painted black on the outside.  The sun heats that and pulls air from the inside which draws the cold air through the pipe ( these two pipes are NOT connected so don’t worry about laying pipe through the house ).  Now, should this fail to draw enough cold air, you’ll have to just put a fan on the inside opening of the underground pipe.  I’d go 12v, get them by the dozen or at least multiples because parts makers love discontinuing their wares to make your job difficult, and set the motor directly to an outside small PV panel.  The sun comes up, your AC starts ( you can also use this same system in the winter if drawing 50 degrees is a good start warming your house-just have it set on a battery to run longer.  Even just at night so you have an overnight heat source.  This assumes you don’t have a conventional set up with water pipes you must keep from freezing, cause fifty won’t cut it for that ).

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I’m also assuming you are smart enough to heat your body first, with proper clothes, THEN your home.  A sweater ( WOOL!!! Cotton sweaters are mere fashion accessories.  The finer the wool, the less itchy, if at all, it is.  Or just put a long sleeve shirt underneath to avoid itchy ) alone lets you drastically cut your heating requirements.  Add in a cap and long johns and you might not even need any for long periods ( one assumes you can bath while dinner cooks to get a “two-fer” ).  I don’t heat at night.  With two wool blankets, two poly comforters and one feather comforter ( only around $50 at Amazon-synthetic fill is still very warm ) and a thin squishy foam under the sheet to reflect heat, I can sleep in my birthday suite in 40 degrees ( getting out of bed is a little less fun of course ).  Insulate yourself, then your home, and be amazed at how little energy you now need.

END

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15 comments:

  1. It ain't the heat, it's the humidity. If you live in a relatively dry area your cold air pipe idea can work, but if not, then you'll be cool but miserable. I have no AC here in my humble abode and 2 summers ago the temp was in the high 80's and so was the humidity and with 5, yes FIVE fans blowing (2 ceiling, 3 pedestal) on high it was still like hell incarnate. I was being boiled to death in my own juices, just like that $300 oven thing I've seen on the infomercial - the only relief was in sleep, only to wake up drenched in sweat. I was forced to break down and get a small window shaker. This building is 8 years old, has R19 in the walls and R38 in the ceiling, on a concrete slab and a 12" overhang on the roof trusses in a heavily wooded forest. The heat is what made me move from southwest Florida after living there for 40 years. I can deal with cold if I have to, just move around a little to warm up, but the heat will make me buckle everytime - I can't stand it and there's little that can be done about it except throw wheelbarrows of money at it.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I guess being on the coast, the humidity never bothered me.

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    2. Just a thought? I don't know how much energy the Dehumidifiers draw, but I don't think it's excessive? If those living in humid areas can rig one to run on solar, this may be a good solution? Earth sheltered would be the first step.

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    3. Wayne,

      Dehumidifiers are small refrigerator/freezer sets that can use more power than a standard chest freezer. I wonder if 200 pounds of batteries and 500W of PV could keep up with one. The advantage of a dehumidifier is that you get buckets of pure water from their catchment tank!

      pdxr13

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    4. Thanks for the heads up pdxr13. Being from the dry west, the dehumidifiers are a rare beast in these parts.

      I'm now thinking Earth sheltered with a well designed Earth tube setup for cooling (And heating) for those folks living east of the Mississippi is the best option. A lot of work, and perhaps cost, but worth it.

      Wayne

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  2. President carter asked everyone to put on a sweater to offset US peak oil. Most people ignored him. after all it was un-fashionable.
    Then Alaska, North Sea, and Saudis' took up the slack - for a while. And the Yuppies began dominating every aspect of culture, displacing or coopting much of the hippies and earlier survivalist movements. The Soviet Union fell apart, and Y2k was a bust. So here we are- few making the connection between the price of oil and the housing bubble bursting, and our long painfully slow economic contraction.
    WHICH MEANS- sturdy and warm clothes are still a bargain from thrift shops, for now. Stock up on sizes that fit near yours now.

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    1. Wool sweaters from the thrift store will get you better barter than silver. And cheaper per ounce.

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    2. Yeah, but it is harder to bribe people with an old itchy sweater. So a little silver, alcohol, tobacco, or porn should be included for trade and bribery.

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    3. They will be cold right away. Save the rest as they will increase in value over time ( not alcohol, will be homemade ) due to scarcity.

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    4. Luxury wool sweater (and extra warm) is merino wool or double-knit cashmere. Not scratchy. A Cashmere sweater is the output of 3 high-altitude little goats for a couple of years. Available with a couple of unfashionable holes (you fix) at local thrift store. Somewhat rare in muted colors in men medium or larger.

      Even more effective weight-to-warmth are hats. I get hats for no cost by looking at the ground. Pick them up, launder, stash in trade goods box. Hat+sweater with wool pants makes 62 degree room just fine.

      pdxr13

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    5. I wear two wool socks, two wool sweaters covered by a bathrobe, and one thick poly hat and I'm okay in 50.

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  3. I wear 2 pair long johns, one jean and snowpants plus tee, wool sweater, fleece and overcoat and I'm fine in unheated RV in northeast winter to 20 below. . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, how do you move? Or are you just yanking my chain?

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  4. I'm not kidding. You buy oversized outerwear and normal sized undergarments. Because I'm normally slender people just think I tanked up for the winter. And I really have no heat, gotta jump in the three sleeping bags at nite after undressing down to the double longjohns. Mornings a bitch trying to put things back on before hypothermia sets in. But it can be done.

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    Replies
    1. Not a bad way to live in the north, esp. in apoc. prep.,but I like a small amount of heat. I'll stay underground.

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