Showing posts with label Off the Grid and Self Sufficiency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Off the Grid and Self Sufficiency. Show all posts


Line Drying

Long-time readers will know that I like to save money in any way possible. I've even gone above and beyond to find creative ways to save money.

In other words, I'm incredibly cheap.

Like so cheap that I look in the trash at u-scans for coupons (often for FREE items) that people have discarded. It's not as gross as it sounds. I promise. But I digress.

In April we went off-grid once a week while we were doing a unit study on electricity. While we were off-grid, we officially made our foray into hand-washing and line-drying. I don't intend on ever going back. I LOVE line-drying. There's just something about the whole process that makes doing laundry so much more enjoyable. Yeah. I said "enjoyable" in relation to laundry.

I wondered why I hadn't started line-drying my clothes sooner. What was I afraid of? The lines were incredibly easy to install. We got clothes lines at HomeDepot & installed them to our fence posts. We have 2 lines going across our entire back yard (i.e.-the sand pool).

I had heard in the past that line-drying makes your clothes stiff. When this didn't happen to my clothes that were line dried, I set out to find out what I was doing wrong. Because my clothes weren't something must be wrong.

Turns out I wasn't doing anything wrong. If your clothes are stiff after being line-dried it's because they still have detergent on/in them. In other words, they weren't rinsed well enough. I've heard this is less of a problem when you use homemade detergent which is probably why I wasn't having that problem.

I can't give you specifics on how much money it saves. I've been so stuck in the muck of the health care bill, that I couldn't handle any other math. Here's what I figure, though. When I use the dryer, it uses electricity which costs money. When I line dry the clothes, it costs me nothing. That's enough math to convince me! Not only that, but line-drying your clothes will make them last longer.

In my opinion, anything that's free is something worth trying! If you don't have the money to buy an actual clothes line, then start with twine, or use your fence. Get creative! It will save you money! (Perhaps even enough to allow you to buy the line?)

I'm also considering hanging a line or two in my garage to allow us to line-dry through a Michigan winter. 'Cause something tells me snow, uber-cold temps, and wet clothes just don't mix well.

Solar a Grasshopper?

This month we’re studying electricity and energy conservation. That study has led us to taking one day a week for the month of April and declaring it an off-grid day. In other words, we have utilize almost no electricity on those days.

In doing some searching for info on solar power, I came across this blog where they talk about this nifty gadget; a solar-powered grasshopper. What a FANTASTIC way to teach kids first-hand about solar power.

I mean we could go completely off-grid utilizing a grid-tied solar system NOW and use THAT to teach them about solar power. We could also get this gadget which is probably WAY more educational and all that jazz.

Really, though, where would the fun be in that?

I mean…come ON! NOTHING says fun like a grasshopper powered by the sun!

I will be purchasing this little creature tomorrow.

Honestly, I’m most interested in seeing how my cat reacts to it. Because you KNOW my children will put it RIGHT in front of her to see what she’ll do with it.



We're Off Grid Again

It’s Friday which means that we’re off-grid again! We had fun last week…and a bit of a snag in our plans as well. In fact, something quite tragic almost happened as a result of us being off-grid.

I’ve told you about my girls’ night out before. We’re moms with lots of kids whom we homeschool…some (ahem…) have a LOT more than the rest of us. Anyway, this means that we are rarely able to perfectly plan our nights out in advance. Usually, one figures it’s time for us to have another and contacts the others. If everyone is free that night or the next, then it’s a go.

The problem came when I wasn’t on my e-mail…AND didn’t have my cell phone on. That evening, I turned my phone on & checked my messages. While doing so, I heard that we were having a girl’s night out and since everyone else could make it they were going ahead with it…would I PLEASE call them and tell them I’m coming…and there would be chocolate.

CHOCOLATE! If you don’t know by now, EVERY woman has an affinity for chocolate. If your wife says otherwise, she’s lying. She loves chocolate. If she’s having a bad day, buy her chocolate…she’ll feel better. I promise! I think it might even be in the Bible somewhere.

I’m telling you, I have NEVER gathered my family together to get out the door so quickly before in my life. This was an EMERGENCY! Chocolate was involved!

My husband quickly got me to the chocolate house…I mean my friend’s house…and then proceeded home with the kids. I only missed 30 minutes of our night out (and chocolate) and got to play with a baby & change a cloth-diapered butt to boot! (The butt was the baby’s…just for anyone wondering.)

Despite the almost tragic results of last week’s off-grid day, we are attempting another today.

I’ve already called my friends and have been ensured that NO chocolate will be missed today! They also have STRICT instructions to deliver any such invites directly to my house should they not be able to get ahold of me in the future. (We all live down the street or around the corner from each other so I’m not asking for the world here!)

For those wondering, I wrote this blog last night. I’m really NOT on the grid today! We have unplugged EVERYTHING in our house that uses power except our fridge, our freezer, and our stove. We are drinking what we have in the fridge, and we are utilizing the bathroom and kitchen sinks for washing our hands only. We are saving our shower water for flushing the toilet. We’re not totally and completely off-grid, but we’re as much as you can be without truly being completely off-grid.



We're Off Grid Today!

As I mentioned earlier this week, we are going off grid one day a week for the month of April. That day is today!

I wrote this lovely form blog so you wouldn’t think I had forgotten about you. I’m not really here, though. My computer is turned off today. In fact, we’re not using any electricity at all today.

I know from last week, that we use way too much anyway. There are so many things we can do to cut down without taking the extreme steps we’re taking. Get up when the sun comes up. Go to bed when the sun goes down. Turn lights off when you leave a room. Open a window and let the outside air be your air conditioner. (Those of you in Oklahoma can feel free to ignore this advice. I know it doesn’t work well there. It works wonderfully up here in Michigan, though. And I don’t miss those $300 summer electric bills one bit!) Turn the TV off when you leave the room. Unplug the microwave, VCR, etc. when you're not using them. They're power-grubbers even when you're not using them. (If they glow at night, they're costing you money!)

Have a fun non-electric night where you eat dinner & play games by candle light. The kids will think it’s fun and you’ll save money to boot! It’s a win-win!

I’ve heard, though, that if you use fluorescent bulbs, you negate any savings if you turn the light off less than 15 minutes after you’ve turned it on because of the power it takes to light the bulb. I don’t have research on this. I heard someone tell me it once. And I believed it. I probably saw it on TV. If it’s on TV, then it must be true. Just keep it in mind and if you don’t believe me, then feel free to do your own research. Please, let me know if I’m wrong. That way I can quit walking into dark rooms during the day to get stuff.

Enjoy your Thursday! May you use a little less electricity today than you normally consume…just for fun!



Off the Grid Living

This month, we are learning about electricity in school. Like most kids, ours think a light was meant to be turned on in the morning and not turned off again until bedtime…if then. In an effort to break this habit and at the same time teach them to value electricity, we are going off-grid…at least for a time.
Every Thursday or Friday during the month of April, we will be off-the-grid. What does that mean? It means that we will not consume electricity at all on that day. No TV even for school movies. No computer…even for school. No lights. No automatically-flushing toilets. Forget saving shower water to flush the toilet as a way to save money; it will be a necessity! No heat or air. We purposely waited until spring to start this so that shouldn’t be a problem. We don’t typically use the air conditioner in the summer here anyway, but we do use fans at night. We’re hoping it’s warm enough to not need heat, and cold enough to not need the fans at night! (So mama can get some sleep.)
For the sake of convenience, cleanliness, and my sanity, we will have some exceptions. We will still be able to use the bathroom sink to wash our hands. We will also still be able to use the kitchen sink to wash our hands and dishes.
We actually started this last week and used the oven to cook lunch and cooked dinner on the grill. This week, we’re going to be a little more extreme and will only eat foods which do not need to be cooked. Next week, we hope to teach the kids the basics of cooking on the grill. (It’s our version of the wood stove.) We just don’t have a couple thousand to drop on a month-long lesson. However, it’s as realistic as we can possibly make it.
We already had several candles, and are teaching the children about candle-fire safety. We also have a couple of oil lamps and are teaching them how to safely use those. (Although we do all of the lighting.) We also are getting a kit from Lehman’s to make your own oil lamp. You can use olive oil, coconut oil, and various other kinds of vegetable oil to fuel these lamps.
The kids are pretty excited to see what kinds of alternative energy are out there. They want us to install solar power! Yeah. We’ll do that when we have a spare several thousand…plus!
Have you ever gone off grid? Thought about it? We’d love to eventually be able to go off-grid completely through the use of a grid-tied solar system where the power company pays YOU for any extra energy you produce but don’t consume. And there I go dreaming again…