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Like John Wells. Operator at the The Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory outside of Terlingua TX. Here's a man living in the middle of the desert, where typical daily temps this summer have been >110F. Here is a guy who is practicing what he preaches. GO and visit him, he loves giving people the grand tour of sustainable living. This place is great.

No, I don't want to hear from Al Gore from his 10,000 Sqft. Mansion. He isn't living the dream(He's living my dream)..

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Is that a handcrank cement mixer? That is hardass.
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Not shaving saves at least a 1/2 gallon of water per day. Admirable.
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That's how they should sell it... do you want to pay NOTHING for energy? Tom Elliot has long been considered a expert in amateur home power. He lives in Colorado where it gets down to -20F yet he grows bananas indoors and lives off the grid. He holds a number of honorary engineering degrees.

http://www.wagonmaker.com/

I am switching to all LED now. They pay for themselves in 1 year if they are used enough and last 20+ years. I never bough into the CFL bulbs... I used some, but was waiting for the better tech. Ultimately I want to build... monolithic dome, all voltaic, point of use water heaters, etc... it really is not that much more expensive and means years of independence.
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I don't think images of bearded people in the wilderness constructing their own power plants are good for the understanding of what needs to be done. All they communicate is "possibly admirable but impossible for me" which leads to "so I'll just go on with my meat and oil then".

You don't need to be a hippie genius to get below 2 tons of CO2/year.

All you need to do is:
- live somewhere where you don't have to go by car to work (admittedly hard for some, but you can think about it next time it's time to get a new home or job)
- buy your electricity from the right kind of company (apparently difficult in some countries, but too easy to not do it in some)
- don't heat your house with dino fuel (might need some investments, but they will surely pay off)
- abstain from meat (especially beef) on most days (it's not a religion; if Sunday steak is sacred, then Monday through Saturday is still a huge gain. Furthermore, chicken is so close to a lot of vegetarian protein sources in its impact that you can keep a lot of grandma's recipes.)
- don't fly (might be hard depending on what your job is, but most people can cut down radically on flying by just changing their idea of what a "nice vacation" is)
- in general, don't throw away things that still work just because you feel like getting new stuff, and have a look at the second hand shop before heading on to IKEA. Don't worry about the economy - having your things repaired will easily keep up your contribution to GDP. (Exception: replacing energy-consuming appliances is often a good buy from a green perspective.)

This might still take a lot of effort for a rural-dwelling, business-traveling meat-addict, but it's a world of difference from building your own solar-powered banana plantation. I get below 2 tons on all Internet tests I do (for whatever it's worth) and I live a pretty normal life on a normal income, except for perhaps the many train days. No beard needed.
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Also... our methods of building homes are over 500 years old and ever increasingly using cheaper and cheaper materials - it was amazing the difference in quality of wood if you look at the old Victorian homes near me and what they have for framing... I find it hard to beleive that the McMansion next door will last 150 years. But you can go inexpensive, be "green" and energy efficient. There's composite recycled materials that can be used and there better designs for lifespan, r-value and disaster-proofing. I'd love one of these. Also in Texas:

http://www.monolithic.com/



Some of these designs can be built in only a few days.
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Actually, an energy-efficient house look like this:
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Mondainai wrote:
Actually, an energy-efficient house look like this:


Yeah. But not where I live. Zoning laws would not permit. Yes, people can live communally like your picture proposes but also in smaller structures as families and achieve the same results. Cities would also require vertical farming or imports of food rather than permaculture that something more spread out would be able to provide.
 
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Zoning laws aren't the only laws we need to change.

And transporting food to cities is a lot cheaper than transporting the people in Farmville to dentist, shrink, sports practice, work, friends, board game clubs, restaurants and all those places people need (or feel that they need) to go.

And the systems needed for us to maintain the standard we perceive as "decent" all require a certain scale, be it district heating or public transport.

If you prefer Little House on the Prairie 2.0, then you're right in doing so. Problem is just that most Little House-dwellers demand the same services and comfort as the Big House-dwellers, and that costs a lot of energy.
 
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Some of us like the wide open spaces. I ain't living in no high rise.
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bjlillo wrote:
Sounds like we're on the same track. Have you looked at geothermal?
My mom has it. It was ridiculously cheap, 1-2000 € or something. It has already paid itself. And you can use it in summer as well. The only time it's useless is when the temperature is 10-20 Celsius.
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MWChapel wrote:
Some of us like the wide open spaces. I ain't living in no high rise.
Al Gore likes his big houses. He ain't living in a 3-bedder. Screw him.
 
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bjlillo wrote:
Mondainai wrote:
You don't need to be a hippie genius to get below 2 tons of CO2/year.


This is where you environmentalists lose me. I don't give a shit about combatting an imaginary problem like global warming so CO2 isn't the end-all, be-all for me. I'm much more concerned about cleanliness, efficiency and living off the grid than I am about addressing a concern based on flawed models which might raise the temperature .5 degrees in 100 years. Stick to the real, tangible environmental problems which have an effect on people's lives and the rest of that crap will take care of itself.
I don't need to be able to touch something to worry about it. You should know; it's a bit like religion, just a bit more... frequently updated.

What do you mean by "off the grid"? We're all interconnected, the fish you eat affects the algae on my beach. You have to be on the moon to not affect me, whatever you do.

If you mean "the grid" as the power grid, then it'd be awesome if these energy-sufficient people could be on the grid so they could sell their excess production to the rest of us.
 
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Mondainai wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
Some of us like the wide open spaces. I ain't living in no high rise.
Al Gore likes his big houses. He ain't living in a 3-bedder. Screw him.


Think I'd rather live like that hippie. He seems to have it alright, living in big sky country, and I've seen him enjoy a nice steak. Not cramped up like a caged monkey downtown.
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Mondainai wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
Mondainai wrote:
You don't need to be a hippie genius to get below 2 tons of CO2/year.


This is where you environmentalists lose me. I don't give a shit about combatting an imaginary problem like global warming so CO2 isn't the end-all, be-all for me. I'm much more concerned about cleanliness, efficiency and living off the grid than I am about addressing a concern based on flawed models which might raise the temperature .5 degrees in 100 years. Stick to the real, tangible environmental problems which have an effect on people's lives and the rest of that crap will take care of itself.
I don't need to be able to touch something to worry about it. You should know; it's a bit like religion, just a bit more... frequently updated.

What do you mean by "off the grid"? We're all interconnected, the fish you eat affects the algae on my beach. You have to be on the moon to not affect me, whatever you do.

If you mean "the grid" as the power grid, then it'd be awesome if these energy-sufficient people could be on the grid so they could sell their excess production to the rest of us.


Off the Grid is a general term used by people preparing for the end of the world when you'll have to kill roving bands of cannibals trying to eat you and your family.
 
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MWChapel wrote:
Mondainai wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
Some of us like the wide open spaces. I ain't living in no high rise.
Al Gore likes his big houses. He ain't living in a 3-bedder. Screw him.


Think I'd rather live like that hippie. He seems to have it alright, living in big sky country, and I've seen him enjoy a nice steak. Not cramped up like a caged monkey downtown.
And then you're right in doing so, just be aware of that we can't afford to get you all the fun that's in that cage. Until we're in super-high tech Utopia that is.
 
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Dispaminite wrote:
Off the Grid is a general term used by people preparing for the end of the world when you'll have to kill roving bands of cannibals trying to eat you and your family.
I see. I'm trying to prepare for the continuation of the world.
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Mondainai wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Off the Grid is a general term used by people preparing for the end of the world when you'll have to kill roving bands of cannibals trying to eat you and your family.
I see. I'm trying to prepare for the continuation of the world.


I'm trying to prepare for living comfortably until I die. Saving the enviroment isn't the main purpose behind how I live. Spending no more money than I have to to enjoy myself is. It's why I have a cheap tracphone, live in a small place, and have the same car for the last 11 years.
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bjlillo wrote:
Sounds like we're on the same track. Have you looked at geothermal?


Yeah... my friend's parents built their "death house"... They are retired but not that old. Essentially they built a fully handicap access and automated house with room for their kids to move back in if shit hits the fan (very defensible and secluded location) or if either of them become wheelchair bound as it has ramps and showers that are tile rooms rather than tub stalls... sounds crazy, but it is a pretty cool plan and he designed it all himself. It sits on a mountain ridge and has some sort of heat pump under the house that aids in heating / cooling. They have all the point of use hot water and the system that heats the house looks more like a router than a furnace. I always thought radiators would be the obsolete but they have these high tech radiators that (covered with a shroud) look like a heat sink on a Borg computer. They are not 100% of the grid but they are getting there... lots of passive solar with windows and a small PV array.

What is really cool about where I live is that you can have HYDRO! The canal system in my city has buildings along it (maybe a dozen sit vacant right now) that have turbines in the basement that use the gravity of the two canal setup to produce elec. A friend of mine has a 685,000 sq ft building (half filled with art studios a few apartments and some small offices) with four turbines. He runs net zero over the year and does sell back to the utility company (which is the city and its hydro dam). Most of the buildings are fairly large... so tax considerations are there and so is the need to restore them as they are old industrial. One 250,000 sqft building was in receivership by the city and was sold for only $20k... but probably a few $100k to get it up to snuff. I looked at two others that were ready to use... one I looked at a couple years ago was 4 story brick with elevator, first story was a garage at 25,000 sqft for $99k. There's a number of others... We have Cisco and EMC moving to create a data center for the "green power". I am thinking this might be a way to go.



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Dispaminite wrote:
I'm trying to prepare for living comfortably until I die. Saving the enviroment isn't the main purpose behind how I live. Spending no more money than I have to to enjoy myself is. It's why I have a cheap tracphone, live in a small place, and have the same car for the last 11 years.
But you don't steal from others to live comfortably, even when you get away with it, do you?
 
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Dispaminite wrote:
Mondainai wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Off the Grid is a general term used by people preparing for the end of the world when you'll have to kill roving bands of cannibals trying to eat you and your family.
I see. I'm trying to prepare for the continuation of the world.


I'm trying to prepare for living comfortably until I die. Saving the enviroment isn't the main purpose behind how I live. Spending no more money than I have to to enjoy myself is. It's why I have a cheap tracphone, live in a small place, and have the same car for the last 11 years.



Same here except my car is 23 years old (Mercedes will last that long). To me "off the grid" means independence.
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pronoblem wrote:
Same here except my car is 23 years old (Mercedes will last that long). To me "off the grid" means independence.
So you're running it on rapeseed from your garden?
 
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Mondainai wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
I'm trying to prepare for living comfortably until I die. Saving the enviroment isn't the main purpose behind how I live. Spending no more money than I have to to enjoy myself is. It's why I have a cheap tracphone, live in a small place, and have the same car for the last 11 years.
But you don't steal from others to live comfortably, even when you get away with it, do you?


No, I don't commit crimes.
 
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Mondainai wrote:
pronoblem wrote:
Same here except my car is 23 years old (Mercedes will last that long). To me "off the grid" means independence.
So you're running it on rapeseed from your garden?


No. Pure alcohol. I have a column still that I put all waste into and I grow sugar beets... Plus, I only drive it once a month.
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Dispaminite wrote:
Mondainai wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
I'm trying to prepare for living comfortably until I die. Saving the enviroment isn't the main purpose behind how I live. Spending no more money than I have to to enjoy myself is. It's why I have a cheap tracphone, live in a small place, and have the same car for the last 11 years.
But you don't steal from others to live comfortably, even when you get away with it, do you?


No, I don't commit crimes.
In the eyes of the law of your jurisdiction, or in the eyes of future humanity?

No rush to answer; I'm now off to steal some tire rubber from some deforested island to squeeze in a concert before bedtime
 
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