Posts tagged home

QUICKIE: Home Zone Control

If anyone in the greater Los Angeles metro area is looking to implement computerized home zone control in their home (smart home technology can reduce your home energy bills by up to 50%!), I work with an electrical expert who is quite reasonably priced and very experienced. Computerized home zone control, solar panel installation, and energy efficiency seminars are just a few of the services offered by the company.

To learn more or request services, contact me anytime either through this site or at solariousblog@gmail.com. With the new renewable energy tax credits, it is less expensive than ever before to make your home a truly green living space!

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BOOK REVIEW: the Self Sufficiency Handbook

The Self-Sufficiency Handbook: A Complete Guide to Greener Living by Alan and Gill Bridgewater

the Self-Sufficiency Handbook

The title of this book is perfect. There are no crazy survival tips here, although I wouldn’t mind having this book along in a pinch. It’s a guide for getting your existing house off the grid, and also for evaluating properties in terms of their sustainability potential. The writers live in the UK, after years stateside, so the companies and tips are both oriented toward those countries. But there is a nice discussion of navigating local laws no matter where you decide to drop your hoe and start gardening.

After a nice discussion of housing, which includes talks about insulation, orientation, ambient heating/cooling, alternative energy sources, and materials, they move on to daily living practicalities. First, getting light. That done, next you need food. This is where the book really shines. There is an in-depth lesson on growing an organic garden, including successful composting and which crops should be planted where and when, what needs rotation (and a sample rotation schedule that will leave you with fresh foods year-round) and what can stay put, and the care profiles for a large variety of different garden plants. They are careful to share wisdom on how much land you need to make your off-grid dreams happen, and also on how to choose property that will lead you to success.

Animal husbandry is covered in detail species by species, along with construction considerations, possible worries and probable successes of owning each type. The sections are not overly in-depth – I thought they were perfect for the off-grid enthusiast with lots of commitment but no experience with husbandry. Of course, one can never emphasize enough the time it will take to properly care for animal on your own property. They cover it nicely, if briefly, by saying this: if you own animals, you will have to feed them EVERY DAY, holiday or not. Yes, that’s EVERY day. Having kept horses growing up, I can relate to the urgency with which they repeat this statement throughout the book. Take heart.

The last section of the book can best be described as a tutorial section of recipes for survival. Not pemmican or Gorp-style recipes, but rather old-fashioned recipes for things like candles, making soap, making chutneys and jams, and brewing beer and making wine. Their recipes are pretty short and look easy to handle. In fact, the whole book was particularly well planned to fit each concept on two facing pages, so you’re never left looking for information in a thick chapter of words. I’m sure this limits the amount of information that can be presented a little, but I didn’t notice.

If you’re even considering moving off-grid, or even just converting a section of your yard to an edible garden, you should pick up this book. It’s fairly new, but with its special emphasis on looking at your actions in terms of an overall lifestyle, I think it will one day be considered a standard text in self-sufficiency. Which, as gas rises toward the $5 mark, is something we could all afford to learn more about.

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Tax Refund: Investing in Your Home

So you just finished standing in line at the post office, trying to get that dreaded paperwork off the the IRS in time to get your tax refund this year.  At least it’s easier to take when you think of all the green that will soon be coming your way.  

Tax refund check

If you’re really thinking, you can use that green to green another area of your life… your home.  Here’s a link to a great article from Forbes about how the Federal government allows for tax rebates when you remodel or improve your home.  It’s worth a look through to see in which ways you can actually make that refund work for you in the long run.  While the focus of this article is not expressly on green technology, you can easily apply green building principles to any of the remodeling projects you do decide to undertake.  Just remember to check the list to see what qualifies.

If you’re not looking to start knocking down walls, perhaps you can look into upgrading ceratin appliances in your house to Enrgy Star rated versions, or consider making small investments toward off-grid power use, such as buying a clothesline for your back yard.  (What?  You’re not even getting that much back?  Times are tough…)  Or you could consider spending a day at the local garden store buying plants, which will add value and utility to your house.  The apple or peach tree you plant today will be a welcome respite from the future sun and also provide you with food for barter or decreased dependence on the supermarket. 

Keeping your house in shape will also pay off in the long run because you won’t have to put major funds toward total replacement of items that you keep in good repair.  If we ever hope to green the world, we’d do best to start with our own spaces, leading by shining example, rather than, as the bible puts it, sweeping our neighbors porch when our own remains dusty.  So make an investment in YOUR environment, and put Uncle Sam to work for you.

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