I want to start and give a shout out to my friend who road out hurricane Irma in Tampa Bay, in a hospital suffering from kidney stones. Way to go Robert! In all honesty he intended to sit at home and watch the rain and wind but ended up watching his stones pass.
In the last 7 weeks, I have packed everything that I own, dropped what I didn’t need into storage, and got rid a pile of “crap” that I had collected over the last 10 or so years. It is amazing what we hang onto and mentally tell ourselves that we neeeed that item. We rearrange rooms, buy shelves to properly display our crap and stow it there forever. Never to use or rarely use again.
I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole and talk about the minimalist movement here, but I do have a few personal observations. After spending a good week going through all my stuff and sorting and resorting down to what I absolutely needed then packed what I could into my truck and headed south. My new co-workers kind of raise their collective eyebrows when I say I only have a deck chair, a TV and an air mattress (I now have a real bed) in my apartment. I actually find it kind of refreshing not to have all that stuff just sitting around literally collecting dust and wanting me to undust them.
Sorry I digressed, but I love being where I am, what I am doing, and being near the cabin. The minimal part came out of necessity. And it has been great! Very little overhead.
The reason I started writing this today, was I had a bit of an epiphany this past weekend when I went up to the property and cabin to spend a couple days putzing around, cut some brush, mow some grass and other general maintenance. What I realized is how much gas I used or use everyday. My batteries were dead when I arrived Friday night, both gas cans were empty, the generators tank was about half empty and the brush cutter gas tank was almost empty. So I had to drive into town and fill my two five gallon cans, turn right around and get back to the cabin to start work before the day’s heat set in. Time lost, one hour. It just kind of occurred to me that without gas, and the costs associated with that golden liquid that we take for granted daily, how much harder our lives would be.
If I were to add the cost of gasoline over a year, or over five years how much money are we talking about? I did a few mental calculations. But in my case 5 gallons a week times fifty two weeks equals two hundred and sixty gallons at say $2.50 a gallon comes out to $650 a year. Multiply by 5 years? you get the picture. I am not including any of the costs of gas burned driving to and from the cabin or the extra trip into town to fill up the tanks. You see where I am going? a trip to the property can be a hundred dollar bill easy.
Saturday I ran the genset for about four hours to get a good charge on the batteries while running the brush cutter and then a chain saw. In all I burned through five gallons of gas for a Saturday afternoon. I am sure those few people that read this blog, are having the thought that five gallons really isn’t much in the bigger scheme of things. That is true. I honestly don’t want to mow an acre of knee high grass with a scythe. And the other side of the coin is how much we spend monetarily for “independence”. Which really isn’t being independent when you take a moment and think about the those five gallons adding up and in my case the time it took to go refill.
Now I know the thought has occurred to you, why doesn’t he use solar or wind, or have power run to the property? In a previous post I talked about the overhead on running powerlines to my place. $18,000 was the quote given to me. I want to add, that I am in a half mile blackhole. A quarter mile on each side of me have power lines running to the properties. Wind and solar? Each has come down in price over the years and most states (not mine) including the Fed offer subsidies to offset the costs (30% in the case of the fed subsidy). Wind is still kind of iffy in my book. A lot of up front capital is needed and little return for the amount of energy they produce. Solar, even for my small place I am looking at a $5000 dollar outlay, and that number may or may not include the cost of batteries. Just depends on who you talk to. There is also the overhead of maintaining those pricey little blocks of water and lead they call batteries. Until Tesla can really get the price down on their lithium batteries I think that technology is still out of reach for the average guy.
I have even tossed around the idea of converting the genset to propane. I have a 500 gal propane tank on site that is rarely used. So as you can see, the capital outlay can be significant no matter which way you go. I am trying to do as much as I can without going further into debt after the move, a pending divorce and the costs of that wonderful life event.
I am not trying to have all of the conveniences of modern life, just run a few lights, cell phone booster, charge a phone and occasionally watch a movie. Pretty low consumption, 100 watts an hour. Maybe 150. I’ll keep you posted as I figure things out.
I’ll keep you posted!