Sunday, May 22, 2011

Making the Best Use of your Energy Elves

Presented on May 21 at the Northern California Eco-fest. (For those with browser embed/Google login issues, here's a direct link to it.)


NewMatrix said...

Thanks for posting this. I wasn't able to attend your talk on Saturday, but am very interested in this subject. For anyone interested in learning about and applying 12 volt systems for boats, RVs and even off-grid homes, 'Managing 12 Volts' by Harold Barre makes for an excellent investment. I'll be using the info I learned to design a 12 volt battery & LED emergency lighting system for our home during our frequent winter power outages (and these will soon be all-to-common for everyone). Here's the link to the book on Amazon:

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Elves, Dmitry? The ones you picture look like garden gnomes to me. (We have these little concrete kitsch 'ornaments' in a lot of suburban gardens in Britain, in many varied poses, some of them comically indecent; mooning, for example)

I already live very much as you do, on a 26' boat, and I can testify too, to anyone reading this, that as Dmitry says, you get to have a perfectly comfortable, civilised life, but with a DRASTIC reduction in your energy and commodities demands.

You reduce your collection of 'stuff' to the essential minimum too, because there just isn't spare space for anything but the essentials.

Also, as your demands and your stuff-count go down, your relaxed serenity goes up.

And the shipboard life is ridiculously inexpensive. I can actually save money from my state pension.

Interestingly, I shall be extending this experience to a landward cabin as well now, as I'm just beginning the early stages of a forest-garden permaculture project in woodlands right next to the waterway where my boat is moored. It's clear to me already that the compact, ultra-economical life that's possible aboard is also possible in a land cabin, as long as you can finagle a way to do it below the radar of state and local authorities -- as I have.

That, of course, is something that Dmitry describes constantly as the proper line of attack for all who are preparing practically for the near, collapse-dominated future: the informal economy, plus a network of strong, cordial, local personal relationships, held together by the glue of useful goods and services produced for each others' needs.

Jeff Snyder said...

This was a very informative presentation. As a result, I am beginning to look into the sailboat as lifeboat approach to living. (We live near the Hudson, do a lot of kayaking, and now plan to take sailing lessons this summer.) Probably not much of an audience for it (yet), but if you ever feel motivated, I would love to see an extended treatment of how you retrofitted a sailboat for the new New World. In particular your insights into boat selection for the purpose would be very helpful, I'm sure. Not having ever looked into it, I was amazed to find out from you that you could purchase a used boat for the price of a new car. I did a quick search online and found you can indeed acquire many used 28' - 35' boats for under $36k. I imagine as the economy worsens, even more will be available (at even better prices) as people unload them to continue to be able to purchase gasoline for their cars. Thanks for this very thought-provoking presentation.

Zack Z said...

So few comments, but such a great presentation! I certainly think you'd have an audience for the details of your setup--just look at and the related van dwelling/boondocking webrings.

But it would be a big project and I'm sure one can find similar projects on the web. @Jeff, Dmitry discusses sharpie/Bolger type sailboats in one of the essays linked from the blog, and in more detail in "Fleeing Vesuvius".

Thanks for the blog and your other writing, Dmitry!

EXP/LAB said...

Sometimes RV living can work as well. Especially a 5th wheel trailer as you don't need insurance in most places. You would need insurance on the tow vehicle though.

I thought of another idea too. What about making a "personal pod" container system. I drew up a CAD drawing and wrote an Instructable:

It allows for thick walls that can be insulated much better than most RV's. A 16 foot trailer is converted to move it. This would allow one tow vehicle to move multiple pods.

Cost would be MUCH less than an RV.
The trailer can be used for many other purposes like hauling supplies and whatnot. These would be perfect for disaster areas.

Raye said...

Once again, I thank you for the confirmation and support. I have been gathering relatively small items based on my experiences with extended power outages or machine breakdowns. As the one in the family who rises to the occasion, I get these urges for simple, nonelectric items.

For example, within hours of the washing machine breaking down, the cat puked on the bedclothes. Washing bedsheets in the kitchen sink was fine, easy. But I do not have the build or constitution to wring out large items to quicken their drying and I developed a yen for a wringer.

Nothing astounding, no zillion watt solar array. Just a way to facilitate drying clothes, or heating water for hot drink, or grinding beans into flour (makes great gravy), not to mention unmentionable daily hygiene niceties.

Thanks for the down-to-earth updates.

Thanks also for the nudge about ditching the artifacts of prior incarnations, careers, hobbies. I'm keeping the autoharp, though, since I actually play it. It only weighs six pounds.

Condor said...

I think this is important. As Orlov mentions, all of this would translate, better and cheaper, to a small cottage/apartment on land. We can have all the comforts of modern industrial living -- electric lights, internet, electric washing machine, etc. -- with much, much less energy use. I am so tired of the collapse junkies who think that industrial civilization is impossible with 10% or 20% less energy. Industrial civilization is possible with 90% less energy!

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Condor, can you explain how you would run the essential infrastructures of industrial 'civilisation' -- large-scale mining and processing of ever-lower-grade mineral ores, for one example; industragri for producing the current huge (and increasingly shortfalling) food needs, for another -- on 90% less energy availability than we have just now?

And presumably this hitech industrial-society-forever would be for far fewer than the 7 billion around currently. So how will we arrange that drastic reduction in a peaceable and orderly way, to make sure that the infrastructures that we have at the moment don't get wrecked in the process?

And then there's...

Oh, you get the idea, I'm sure. John Michael Greer's current futurist novel 'Star's Reach', now available in instalments on his blog, gives you a much more realistic picture of the post-industrial future, I think.

EXP/LAB said...

Most civilizations waste resources.

If you read Buckminster Fuller, he did the math back in the 70's. We have already mined ALL the resources we will EVER need from the ground.

Instead of pissing it away by blowing up those metals in combat between nations, never to be reused, use them to build whatever the populations need most.

Remember the pictures of the US Navy pushing old tanks and planes overboard? What about the HUGE obsolete plane graveyards?

He said we should be producing "livingry" as opposed to "killingry"

Think about that.

How many Airstream trailers could you build from the airplane junkyards alone? How many people could they house?

This is just tip of the iceberg thinking!