Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Solar to Sustain Us?

One of my favorite They Might Be Giants kids songs is "The Sun" (quoted in italics below). It's actually a song I can listen to without wanting to stab someone for it's idiotic repetitiveness  quite catchy tune and is about science. So, its basically awesome.

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas,

A gigantic nuclear furnace,

Where hydrogen is built into helium,

At a temperature of millions of degrees.

This homesteading thing isn't about us building a spec home on a large sodded lot. It's about changing our lifestyle and reducing our needs outside what we can harvest and grow outselves. Harvesting the sun for energy is just one of those ideas. Looking at our recent electric bill...well, lets just say it looks to be a daunting task. Can seven people live without the lines of The Electric Company hanging over us?

We need its light,

We need its heat,

The sunlight that we see,

The sunlight comes from our own suns,

Atomic energy
I'd like to think we could. But I'm not sure. We're reading about it, researching, pricing out panels. That's what this whole huge life is about: learning. Last month we used on average 81 kwhpd. Oh. My. God. It fluxuated over $125 from December. Ouch. Granted, we're sitting in a house built in 1922 that literally had holes in it where you could see daylight. We have no insulation besides the minimum in the attic. There are places the only barrier between us and the outside is an almost a century old panel of wood. The AC/electric heat unit put it has one single duct to the downstairs which makes us need multiple space heaters running constantly to keep the chill down. I wore gloves to type during the freeze snap we had. Even with the heaters running full.
The sun is hot,

The sun is not,

A place where we could live,

But here on Earth there'd be no life,

Without the light it gives.

It's hard to determine what our energy consumption would be if we lived in a house that didn't have these flaws. I love my old house but I do not love anything at all about owing the electric company exorbitant amounts of money each month and the overhanging threat of being turned off if we can't make the payment. Even with the insulation we'd still need to climitize the house, see for homeschool, cook, wash laundry and heat water. On average I estimated we spend between $3000-5000 a year on electric usage. That's a lot of green for being very un-green.We're learning though. I really want to do this right from the beginning. Not go back and redo work because it was easier to hook up to the main line for power. I want independence and freedom from monthly bills and non-renewable energies be them my own works or burning fossil fuels. We'd have to piece-meal the system together based on our needs. Building an off grid house we don't get the luxury of walking in and plugging in. But that's okay. That's what I want...if we can figure it out.

The sun is far away,

About 93 million miles away!

And thats why it looks so small,

But even when its out of sight,

The sun shines night and day.

1 comment:

Fujisawa Rob said...

There won't be much to "redo". The feed from utility power "just" gets moved over to a solar bank, or whatever. The house still needs to be wired.