I've been called a 'Nut Bag' and much worse more times than I can count...
I'm striving for a 'Sustainable Living' life (style?)...
I don't care how much energy one sucks down, as long as they make it themselves and don't cause 'Carbon Emissions' or other environmental hazards like Nuclear Waste Products.
8 Years ago, I installed solar panels, and everyone I knew gave me a hard time because I spent money on them...
The payback was supposed to be 19.8 years with energy costs 8 years ago.
Energy costs have gone up over 120% here, so now my small solar array has paid for it's self in less than 9 years, and is actually cutting my energy costs as I sit here typing this message...
I 'INVESTED' $2,500 in my system 8, almost 9 years ago with a 20 year 'Payback', and since the energy rates have increased 120% in those 8 years, it's paid for it's self much faster!
My friends 'Spent' the same $2,500 on vacations, down payments on new cars or buying new lawnmowers, ect...
All that is gone now so there wasn't ANY 'PAYBACK' at all!
My modest 4 panel array supplies enough energy to power my house on normal days...
It WILL NOT power the Central Air Conditioner, And it will NOT power the 220V cloths dryer.
The 4 panel array generates enough energy to sell back to the power company that my bill is usually '$0.00 Due'.
We have made some concessions...
My house is modest, a 1951 built stick frame house with full basement, and we had to do insulation in the walls (didn't have ANY) and we insulated the attic (had about 2" in SOME places)
We rewired the house, and then went with expanding foam insulation in the walls.
It has a built in fungus killer, insecticide, pesticide, it's a moisture barrier and wind barrier all in one pass...
So if someone tells you that expanding foam isn't worth the extra money, Just smile and nod, especially if you have an older home that doesn't have moisture or wind barriers!
You just wouldn't believe the difference that insulation and new doors/windows made in this place!
We converted over to compact florescent bulbs throughout. That actually dropped the electric bill by half some months when we weren't using the air conditioner.
We paid attention to appliance energy ratings when we got them. Especially the central AC!
We had two window AC units when we bought the place, and going to a high efficiency central AC cut the cooling bill by more than half, and we have the ENTIRE house cool!
Now we usually pay Zero for electricity, but we cook with gas and heat with gas... I'm working on that bill, but we don't have the chimney for a wood burner... Yet...
When the hot water heater went south, we replaced it with a wall hanging, tank-less unit. That helped on the gas bill a lot!
We garden, home can, and sell the excess to the farmers market guys. That saves a TON of money, and we get better, cleaner food for it!
We trade for what we don't have/didn't grow, and sell the rest.
We usually turn a profit on the garden from the excess production also, so that tax free money doesn't hurt anything!
I do most of my commuting in a '73 CJ-5 Jeep when I'm going to the farm or out to hunt or fish,
Or I do my town commuting a '83 S-10 pickup that has been converted to Electric drive.
Two older solar panels on the garage do the battery charging duties and I get about 40 miles out of it without a load around town.
That's a substantial savings in gasoline with it being $4.00+ a gallon lately, plus I reduce my carbon footprint so your kids have cleaner air to breathe and cleaner ground to grow food in.
I've got a long way to go, we are still using natural gas for cooking, heating and water heating,
And we still use too much gasoline, but I'm working on that!
When I can move out of town back to the farm I'm sure we will make our place more sustainable...
That's what 'Sustainable Living' movement is all about...
I don't have a 5 or 6 thousand square foot home.
I also don't have a mortgage in foreclosure!
My 'Good Car' is a 6 year old smaller mid size vehicle that I bought used. It gets good fuel mileage.
I was able to pay cash for it so I'm not hemorrhaging money on the vehicle payment and inflated insurance every month.
My 'Farm/Hunting' vehicle is a 4 wheel drive, but it's small, light, easy to work on, gets good fuel mileage, and is old enough the insurance is cheap.
My 'Work/Commute' vehicle is electric and except for shocks, tires, plates and insurance, is free to drive.
There hasn't been a payment on it since I bought it with a bad engine, and converted it to electric drive with parts I found in a junk yard and golf cart batteries I got for free from a golf course.
What no one tells you is,
Before the turn of the century, and just after the turn of the 20th century, most of our power was produced by farmers, wind, water, or renewable fuels.
Sawmills worked on steam or water power,
Water wells were pumped by wind power,
Now we have PV or Photo Voltaics to supplment the mechanical energy from wind and water.
Germany produces more than 20% of it's power from PV arrays. They are higher in Lattitude than Oregan or Washington.
There are enough wind reserves in West Texas up through California, to power the entire country.
There are enough 'Super Sun' sites in the south-west to power the entire country.
There are enough wind reserves in North & South Dakota to power the entire country.
There are enough wind reserves off our ocean shores to power the entire country......
So why are we still building Nuclear Power Plants which produce toxins that will still be deadly in 50 Million years?
Why are we still fighting over Oil in the Mid-East?
Why are we still ruining millions of acres of land (much of it farm land) & poisoning the water table with Coal Mines?
It's free, and I'm slowly taking advantage of it... But it's been a long hard road to wean myself off the 'Grid' mentality!