How Self Reliant Can I Be?
Innovation Will Save the Day
One of my favorite topics to write about is self-reliance.
Before I begin, let me make a disclaimer. I am not a professional when it comes to home-heating options. I’m merely exploring the possibilities for backup heat in case of a power outage. I always hire a professional to do installations and maintenance.
In a day and age of almost total dependence on the system to provide everything we need, it’s a challenge to be self-reliant. We’re trained to believe that money is the tool that gives us access to everything we need. Yet, the system has shown us on more than one occasion its vulnerable side. That’s when we make a rush on the grocery stores or buy every available used car. It’s a panic-driven way of trying to survive.
Why not have a few systems in place of my own, I ask.
So, I proceeded to emulate my grandparents when it came to food and their hatred of banks. I also began to read about new innovative ways of taking care of myself. Surprisingly, there’s a lot going on in the world of the creators. I like knowing that I can draw on the past but also look to the future for solid reliable solutions to today’s problems.
Currently, my biggest research project is how to provide heat for my house if there was a power outage in my region.
I live in an area with cold weather. We get some snow although it rarely stays on the ground for long. We also get a few days and nights that slip well below freezing. I could probably manage, but I worry about my pipes freezing.
First, let me say that if I lost my power during the spring, summer or fall months, I’m all set.
I have a power station that I can use to run my freezer and fridge. I own a gas stove so I can cook on the top burners. I use rechargeable light bulbs that function for another 4 hours after the power goes out. I can then recharge them on my power station. My kitchen would be functional, and most important, I wouldn’t lose my food. I always keep a well-stocked kitchen with enough food for 90 days.
I also own several battery-powered fans.
When fully charged, they can run for up to 24 hours or more. We’re lucky to be sheltered by a few wonderful shade trees. So, if it’s hot and I can no longer use my central AC, I set up camp in the spare bedroom, a place always drenched in shade. With my rechargeable fans and comfortable chairs, I can relax.
Here’s a little tip for you:
During a summer power outage, I open my windows after dark and then close them in the morning. I keep shades drawn wherever there is sunlight filtering into the room. We’re blessed to have shade, however. It’s always ten degrees cooler in the shade. I’ve never understood building a home in a field without any trees.
You Don’t Need to Live Off Grid, Expatriate, or Own a Farm to Be Self-Reliant
You Can Start Today
So, now I’m working on the winter plan.
I’m getting ready to buy a second battery station. They are so amazing. There are so many good ones on the market these days, but I prefer the Ecoflow. They recharge quicker than most other brands. I can recharge mine by plugging into an electrical outlet, using my inverter gas generator, or with solar panels.
It’s not very heavy either.
If I have a friend living in a part of town with power, I can run it over to their house, plug it in to an outlet, and in 90 minutes it’s fully charged. It’ll last for 18 plus hours before it needs recharging. Or I can plug it into my gas generator and recharge in the same amount of time. My next goal is to invest in a few portable solar panels and learn to use them on sunny days.
Can you tell that I’m excited?
Trust me, I love this. I’m addicted to finding solutions to problems that in the end make me more self-reliant. My current Ecoflow stays in the kitchen. It keeps things functioning and that’s important. When I buy a new one, I’ll carry it around the house with me. It can run lights in my guest room while we read and relax, charge my fans, cell phones, and laptop. I can watch TV as well.
Winter isn’t much different except for the heating situation.
I have a portable propane heater which is for indoor use and a fireplace. We always keep a cord or more of nice dry wood right outside the door. Our fireplace will help but it’s a prefab fireplace and so I can’t install a wood burning insert which would be a lot more efficient.
We have a couple electric blankets that could run on our power station.
But I’m currently looking into a natural gas-vented heater that would be installed on a wall in a central part of the house or a small woodstove that could be installed in my kitchen.
I originally investigated a standby generator which is still a possibility, but it’s quite expensive to install and requires yearly upkeep as well as expensive to run. Since I rarely need to use it in the winter months, it feels like overkill.
The little woodstove, however, is a strong consideration.
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I’m talking tiny, folks. I’m mean tiny house tiny, RV tiny, and cute tiny.
However, we have a place in our kitchen where it could be hung on the wall or sit on a counter with protective wall liners and pads. That would put it up high enough that we’d never need to bend over to clean it out. It would easily heat our kitchen and family room plus I have no doubt that heat would drift into our bathroom as well. There are many other options, however. This is only one example of what’s available.
What’s even better about this idea is that we’d probably use it from time to time without a power outage.
It would cost about a third of what the standby generator would cost and would be simple to use. There’d be portions of the house that we wouldn’t bother to heat, like our huge living room and dining room since there are no water pipes in those rooms.
If you’re wondering about going green, I’m completely on board.
What I love about our power station is that it provides clean energy, solar options, and is super quiet. Furthermore, I use it indoors, so nobody would be tempted to steal it.
The problem is that running my natural gas furnace really requires something bigger.
Also, if I’m hooked into the grid, solar wouldn’t be available if I lost power so I’d need an off grid plan as well which means I’d also need a battery. The batteries are hard to keep charged if I’m without power for days.
The green solutions are a bit more complicated than I had hoped.
I do believe that we’re at the tipping point when it comes to innovations. And, I’m more than willing to wear warm clothes, heavy socks, and sleep under an electric blanket. Until I figure out how to keep my pipes from freezing, I’ll continue my research.
Hopefully, innovators will improve on solar or other green methods for residential use within the city limits.
I’ll wait a bit longer to see what they come up with. The newest woodburning stoves are a great improvement over those used in the past with the EPA standards that are now in place. Yet, we’re still not at that place where ordinary people like myself have affordable and reliable choices that align with our concerns about the environment.
That’s another reason I don’t want to invest the money in a standby generator.
As soon as some form of green energy that’s feasible for me to use is offered, I’d rather invest in that. My natural gas furnace is getting older, too. Maybe when it’s time to replace it, there will be good solutions for urban families and government subsidies to help us make the move in the right direction.
I’m convinced that it’s just around the corner.
I have no idea if my readers are interested in such a long, detailed account of my ongoing research. I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there who know far more than I do on the topic. Please feel free to enlighten me if you do. I’m a 71-year-old woman who enjoys trying to beat the system, but I have a lot to learn. I’m just now beginning to educate myself to the ins and outs of solar panels.
What fun, eh?
Please, feel free to hop on board the self-reliant train with me. Offer suggestions, ask questions, and share ideas. Especially if you have green ideas that are worth considering. I can use all the help I can get.
I’ll be back with updates. I promise.
Teresa is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.