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Pondering the inevitable...

So in light of some figures and things put out by a bunch of people saying we're going to reach permanent climate change in 5 years I've come up with a list of things that I want to work on during that time because frankly I don't think people will change enough fast enough.

1) Go solar in as many areas as I can. I've been playing with the idea of solar powered steam electrical generation for a long time now. It's not perfect and it's not as efficient but it doesn't create the same sort of nasty chemicals that making PV panels do. And passive solar is something I can do on at least two sides of my house. Much as I like the tall maple tree out front it may have to go to increase our solar capabilities. Especially if I want to heat my house using solar. Between the solar window-box style heaters and solar hot water heating I should be able to heat without a problem during the day. At night there will be a problem unless I can come up with a solution.

2) Go wind in as many areas as possible. Our area, for whatever reason, gets anywhere from 6 - 10 mph winds on a regular basis. And frankly while the city won't let me put up a tower to get high winds I think I can put up micro-generating vertical turbines in a ton of places around here to add something to the entire total.

3) Micro-generation through the rainwater collection. I'm already up to two rain barrels and if I keep the gutters clean and funnel the water through one small micro-hydro unit before it hits the barrel then that's just one more source of electricity.

4) I'm researching nickel/iron batteries. They may be larger and more expensive but they last almost forever and are easy to maintain and not hazardous chemically.

5) Reduce the amount of computers I have running. I'm already on track to do that. Because I run my own mail/DNS/web/Gopher/etc. services I run about 8 systems total. Provided I can get the right system here in a little bit I can reduce that to probably 3 not counting the wireless routers. Along with that I'm moving to reduce the desktops I use down to one laptop and one desktop.

6) Removing all the "vampire" sources I have unless they're in-use. The workshop already uses X10 controls to physically power off things when I'm not in there and I want to implement that in the house as well as set it all to run on a schedule so those things aren't on when nobody's home. That's easily within my current technology.

7) Start growing plants indoors, outdoors, and indeed everywhere else I can grow a plant. The dark places can even grow mushrooms. I'm researching creating nutrients for hydroponics from plant waste but I'm not even close to that point yet. If I can grow plants using LED lighting and hydroponics then I'm ahead of the game. (Not that LED production is that green either.) And converting the house to use natural lighting would help all that because no electricity would be needed. My problem is how to keep growing plants year-round without a lot of artificial light. Not sure it can be easily done. I've considered growing Spirulina but honestly there's so little return on that and it's so easy to get wrong that I'm not sure it's worth it.

8) I'm dismantling the one motorcycle I have that doesn't work and selling most of the parts on E-Bay. What remains hopefully can become an EV for in-town use. And If I get a job in the city I'm taking the train every day anyway so that's less gas used. (We really need trains like Germany or Japan in this country but again that NIMBY thing crops up.) I also need to get/make a bicycle. There are plenty of plans out there for recumbants and I have a welder and tools.

9) Start collecting more and more books on almost anything really. If it all goes to hell in a handbasket I want to have that knowledge at my fingertips. And despite what technical people tell you the current crop of computers are FRAGILE. They need an entire ecosystem to work properly. Books don't. They don't need electricity or anything else other than a dry storage area. I'm already up to around 2000 or so books of different types not counting my fiction.

10) Teach people when they're willing to learn. I've already taught the neighbor next door how to minimize his power usage to help him since they're not working over there. And I'll teach anyone else anything I happen to know if I can. The more we all know the better off we all are.

In summary:

1) Do what you need to do to become self-sustaining.

2) Do what you can for the people around you.

3) Teach what you have learned.

All that said...I'm not there yet. Not by a long shot. And some of that is going to take money I don't have yet. A lot of it can be done with reclaimed materials but quite a bit of it I'll have to outright pay for and it won't be cheap. Not if I want these things to last a long time anyway.

And then there's the whole problem of having a mortgage...

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth ( http://nimitzbrood.dreamwidth.org/248139.html ) but feel free to comment here as well.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
You could build a thermal storage tank for the solar heating by installing a large well insulated tank in the basement.

Basically imagine a large double-walled wooden box, about 12x12x6ft high. It's insulated with 6-8inches of fibreglass insulation. The hot water pipes from your solar heaters run though one domestic radiator inside it, and the hot water run for the heating system runs though anther, separate radiator. Finally, filling the box is standard builders sand.

Basically, it adds thermal mass or inertia to the system. Come night time you turn off the water to the solar heaters, and your system runs on inertia.
Nov. 10th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
Nickel/iron, nickel/air, and vanadium flow batteries are all systems which might be useful for single-home power concerns. Vanadium redox systems use a caustic electrolyte (in fact, current forms tend to use sulfuric acid just like lead/acid batteries), and their bulk and complexity limits their mobility, but they have advantages that many battery systems do not. Also, recent research claims have been made that vanadium flow batteries can now reach power densities close to lithium-ion, though I'm sure the necessary chemical mix is less available to random individuals and less healthy for the environment.

You might say I'm a bit interested in flow batteries these days, even though we're used to much simpler types.
Nov. 10th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
If you want to collect inexpensive books that teach you how to do things the 'old-fashioned' way, I recommend Dover books. I've picked up many from them on everything from building bridges/homes/boats/farm tools/caring for farm animals/making a profit from farming/etc.

American History/Americana is a good subject for this, you may also find something useful in Antiques, Collecting, and Crafts is an excellent source for small handiwork instruction, while Gardening Nature and Outdoors might be good, and definitely Woodworking. There should always be a source of wood, even if it's reclaimed wood.

Oh, I just remembered- since many of their titles are out of copyright, you MAY be able to download a free version on the internet. Once you find a title that sounds good, I suggest googling to see if you can get it for free.

(Of course, then you have the expense of printing it- it probably would be better to buy the bound copies from them, unless it's a book that only has a few pages of interest.)

Edited at 2011-11-10 04:34 pm (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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