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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Estimates for a Self Reliant Future

Things just never slow down on the homestead.  While I have been building breakfast nooks and hutches, starting a new dining nook, planting transplants into the garden, double digging the tomato bed, weeding, and getting ready for chicks, Steve has been getting estimates on a new metal roof.

We don't need a new roof yet, but he's decided that getting the metal roof that we want makes more sense now, especially if it will help with how hot the house gets in the summer.   We simply refuse to get an air conditioner for the house. Not gonna do it. But we will replace the roof.  I'm honestly thrilled that he's decided to do it sooner than later, because I really, really want to put together a rainwater harvesting system. We're fortunate that we don't have a long dry season, but I'd rather be watering with saved water.  I can't describe to you how depressing it is to stand at the window during a relentless spate of rain and think about all that wasted water that I could be saving.  Plus, having a rainwater system does bring you a little closer to more complete self-reliance, which I am all for.  I also want to have a good system in place in case we need to supplement (or even replace) our reliance on city water as old folks on a fixed income.

So I was really happy to hear Steve say that as soon as we had the new roof on, he was going to start looking into leasing a solar system. It will be interesting to see how much electricity we can actually generate in the cloudy pacific northwest, but something is better than nothing.  Plus, I've already figured out how much electricity we use a day, so we know that whatever we do, we need to make sure that we don't exceed our current use.  The freezer and fridge use the most energy in the house, and they are both energy star units, brand new last year.  Since starting to eat our meals in the kitchen, we're not watching as much TV, either; it'll be interesting to see how that translates on the electric bill.

You may be wondering how we can do all this with me out of work. We are rabid savers of money.  We tend to live way beneath our means.  Don't get me wrong- there have been times when I've tried to contribute to the economy by buying something, but the Stern Voice Of Reason (STEVOR) has always stopped me.  So lately it seems that we've been spending a lot of money, but they're all investments. Hopefully they're investments into a comfortable, low carbon future.

That's the plan, anyway.


Rae said...

Woohoo! Metal roofing is THE BEST! We love ours. It looks clean, no flippin moss to worry about, awesome. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Yippee for you (and Steve) for all you are accomplishing. I love the "STEVOR" acronym. I have a Steve also, so I may have to borrow this. We have mused about going solar also, tho here on the Oregon coast we probably get even less sun than you do.

Paula said...

Yeah for no moss! The downside of continual water. I'm looking forward to being done with this project; it is not making Stevie a happy boy.

Paula said...

Ruth, if you only knew how long I've been calling him STEVOR. But then, that's probably why we'll be able to pay for the new roof with cash.

Hey- one thing you can think about solar and clouds is a solar water heater, of the evacuated tube type. I saw a thing somewhere that they work better in cloudy places than any other type of solar water heater.

There are some applications for using solar heated water for generating electricity. Of course, I wonder how efficient it all is. Something else to research!

Kate said...

We're in the same boat, except it's a slate roof repair we need done. The cost is enough to choke a horse. The slate roof on the house now is at least 90 years old, and slate shingles average about 100 years of service. We looked at conventional shingles with their "lifetime warranty" - which really means 30 years and you can only collect if your documentation is impeccable and the workmanship is not at fault. Oh yeah, and if the manufacturer is still in business. For the extra money to replace the slate (a pretty local resource, btw) I get to collect the rainwater, and peace of mind that the roof will outlast me by a fair margin. The next time the roof has to be replaced after this will definitely not be my problem. Good luck with your home improvement project.

Paula said...

A real honest-to-goodness slate roof would be really cool, as in swell, but our house doesn't warrant the cost. I'm guessing you have a nice old house on which a slate roof looks right. I am thinking I'm glad I'm not in your shoes, because I wouldn't want to have to replace a slate roof, but you know what?

Neither one of us has an asbestos roof (they exist and I've seen them), so I think we're both doing well!