A 150-mile transmission line project proposed in 2012 costing up to $1.3 billon is a “dinosaur” that is still haunting the Hudson Valley. But rooftop solar energy, battery storage, and community microgrids can replace the ancient, costly, and vulnerable centralized generation and transmission electricity system that has dominated New York and the entire nation — and advanced little technologically — for over a century.
The advantages of combining wind and solar go beyond system performance and floating batteries – it’s an enhancement to the off-grid lifestyle as a whole.
Transformation of the electricity sector may be able to be delayed by wasting billions of federal tax dollars on unnecessary meters, and large long-distance transmission lines, but it cannot be stopped. It may be a politically rocky transition for the foreseeable future, but I am confident America will certainly achieve energy independence and clean energy abundance.
In our first installment, we covered the basics of electricity generation and the process by which a wind turbine creates power. This time, we’ll look at the benefits of adding a wind turbine as a source of clean power for your home.
In this blog series, we look at how a small wind turbine works, while exploring the concept of the smart home microgrid.
Cam shares his experience trying to fix a broken hot-water tank.
In this blog post we describe the choices we made in producing and editing our film, "Life Off Grid."
This initial blog post tells the story of how Phillip Vannini became interested in off-grid living and how he began — together with Jonathan Taggart — to do research on the off-grid lifestyle in Canada.
Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.
There are multiple philosophies that describe what characterizes a green home, but all have low energy loads in common.
Expense checklist for anyone wanting to plan a new homestead.
This article does not get into home biogas gas yields or what biogas can be used for, but it is a basic introduction to the five necessary conditions for how to make biogas at home to get you started.
How to go from buying everything at Wally World to growing organic vegetables, raising livestock, building an efficient home, and a Do-It-Yourself, self-sufficient lifestyle.
At the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Wash, I listened to lecturers cover topics from re-newable energy, small-scale farming, green building, organic gardening, simple living, and citizen solidarity building. While I listened, I pondered ways to weave these powerful themes into our children's lives.
Finding the right balance between obligations can be a challenge.
Build your own wind generator for use with 12-Volt systems. Charge up batteries for lighting, fans, tools and more.
How to cope mentally with living in a remote location.
Why manual water pumps are making a comeback and how to select the right type for a homestead.
Unforgettable Fire's Kimberly and Katydid wood stoves are heating solutions for any and all spaces.
Darning socks is a simple thing to do - and a statement for self-sufficiency!
Two homesteaders discuss their experience with the weather applicable to their mountain homesteads in Washington and Colorado.
Ed and Bruce compare the weather and its impact on their mountain homesteads at different elevations and mountain ranges.
Tips to help you get started planning your very own homestead. With proper planning you don't have to be experienced to do it right.
It takes commitment and determination to live remotely in the mountains.
Mountain homesteading in a remote area.
Outside of a few rare equipment failures, we’ve never had a power outage in the past 20 years that wasn’t our own fault — usually caused by not paying attention to power use or proper battery charging. Weather failures, on the other hand, are starting to become noticeable.
Cam looks back at the challenges of moving to his off-grid home.
Providing your own sewer, water and power can be more expensive and is certainly less convenient but that's not all there is to consider. This article takes a look at some of the other differences between public and private services.
Using snowshoes to keep our paths and trails open as the snow piles up.
With winter beginning, these homesteaders are starting winter off cozy in their cabin.
Learning to appreciate seasonal differences.
Selecting a power option for your homestead.
Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.
The benefits of limited lighting and no electricity.
Real life experiences with chickens spanning a 50 year period.
The documentary film “Beyond Off-Grid” is nearing completion and includes a dozen specialists across the United States living self-reliant lifestyles.
Each year we learn more and more about living off grid and homesteading. These are just a few of the third-year experiences we wanted to share.
There are a lot of things you can do right now to experience the homestead lifestyle right in your backyard.
Instead of throwing out that empty feedbag, get creative and turn it into something new! Homesteader Ed Essex shares ideas for finding new uses for old objects.
How did Victoria Redhed Miller and husband David end up living on an off-grid homestead in the foothills of Washington State's Olympic mountains? Grid? What grid? Electricity was something one took for granted; it came from those outlets on the walls. I was hardly aware of it except during one of the infrequent power outages.
Learn about our experience attending a Mother Earth News Fair as an exhibitor.
An upcoming inspirational documentary, “Beyond Off-Grid,” that strives to motivate people to return to the old paths, includes self-sufficiency experts from around the country. A MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog prompted the producer to contact us.
A few thoughts on why so many people are hesitant to make the transition to produce their own power.
A look at the advantages and disadvantages of “off-grid” and "grid-tied” solar electric systems.
A look back at how we’ve become addicted to electricity and its conveniences since the Great Depression.
An article about when the best time is to start a new homestead.
Developing a sense of place by shaping and stewarding the landscape.
Our experiences in learning to pressure can and use reusable canning lids.
How both we and the chickens have gotten better at surviving the cold winters where we live.
Sharing our first experience with an indoor/outdoor vertical hydroponic garden.
How we stay busy in the winter even though we live at 4200', three miles off the road, and somewhat isolated.
How we avoid most clutter but manage to keep good leftover products for future use.
A description about something unique - a wood burning masonry kitchen stove.
Making the most of a winter walk to home.
In this blog we share someone else's story about old fashioned home made ingenuity concerning deep well pumps that operate without electricity.
We haul our water from the river - walking water!
A brief description of our experiences with solar tubes in our off grid home.
Blog post number 17: Jeff solves the problem of how to use higher-efficiency D/C power for long run-time loads, while using some A/C appliances as well.
A brief description of how we grow fresh vegetables in our long cold winters.
Announcing an opportunity to get Anna's new Ebook for free today at Amazon on the subject of homesteading in a mobile home otherwise known as a trailer.
The thrill continues living in our handmade house.
Fun facts about our first year of blogging for Mother Earth News.
A snapshot of winter life living remote and off grid.
Ode to our hand saw...why we choose to live without power, and what we've accomplished by hand.
The cost to install and operate our solar electrical system.
Things we have done to earn an income from home in a down economy.
Costs associated with providing your own water.
again, rushing to beat the weather as we close in our finishing our hand-built cabin
Things we did to make our new home more sustainable.
Design features we incorporated into our new off grid home.
Things that occur when switching from summer to winter mode. Fall is almost non existent.
Some of the downside of free ranging your chickens.
How we have adapted from salt water fishing to freshwater and what we do with our catch.
When we moved into the country, we had no idea that small critters would be such a nuisance.
We bring power from the array inside the building and put it to work.
Success at growing food at the 4200' elevation and some of the challenges.
Cam contemplates the amount of energy that goes into our food production and shows how he prepared corn for freezing the zero carbon way!
A comparison of costs between on grid and off grid utilities for our circumstances.
A typical day of activity on a modern homestead and off grid.
A description and pictures of a tornado force winds in Washington State in 2012.
This is the hands on portion of how a solar power system operates.
Short description of our solar system and the everyday things we do to operate them.
How and why we chose to have a livestock guardian dog and what they are like.
What it is like to live higher up.
Things to look for in your soil before you break ground on your new home or cabin.
Our power system begins to take shape.
How to make your OWN insulated window coverings.
How to make insulated shades at home.
Our first experience as a vendor or spectator at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA
Our humble abode begins to take shape.
A short history of my own horse riding adventures.
After the snow leaves to do list for us.
Short stories about our chicken experiences
Tips on how to keep water away from your home and water damage prevention.
The generators we use for living off the grid and a multitude of other tasks.
Tips for snow removal around your house and down the road.
An article about how we learned to double our growing season and have home grown fresh veggies almost all year long.
Where we have chosen to draw the line between convenience and sustainability - for now.
If you want to live independently, it's always good to have backup because no one else is coming to the rescue. This is how we did it.
Our take on the positive and negative points of insulated concrete forms.
Options for phone service if you live in a remote location that doesn't have cell service or landlines available to you.
Sometimes being off grid doesn't necessarily mean that you're green.
Cam & Michelle recently enjoyed a visit from an ethnographer who is studying off-gridders.
A simple explanation of our solar power generating system and cost.
A short simple explanation of how to project your electrical needs in order to size your electrical off grid system.
Two easy steps to reduce your electrical use whether you live off grid or not.
Cam loves sharing his homesteading skills in Hands-On Workshops at his off-grid home.
A quick look at different ways to be sustainable whether you are off grid or not.
A brief description of our experience with a masonry heater.
Instead of learning new tricks, we devise new ways to do the same old tricks.
This post is about our water cisterns and what we use them for. It also contains a caution that many local governments would like to tell you what you can and can't do with rainwater.
Things you can do to prevent fire damage to your home from an external source.
We settle in for a long winter's work.
This is the last of a series in home and energy options available to us. It is a short summary of all of the choices we have when designing a new home on or off grid that will benefit your energy use.
This part of the series deals with window size and location, ceiling heights, eave length, and other design and passive design choices you can make for your new home. These choices apply whether you are on or off the grid.
We finally see walls and a loft floor.
This blog is about all of the choices we have for the type of home we want for off grid living and some of the construction materials involved. It turns out there are a multitude of options we have to choose from.
These are the first steps we took to make the change from city living to off grid living. It describes the questions you should ask before you buy property and the research required to make sure you can do want you want with your property.
Has the "magic" energy solution been discovered?
This blog is an introduction to how we went from a condominium lifestyle to off grid modern homesteading in the mountains. It also includes an explanation of the meaning of "off grid".
Cam discusses the decision to go off-grid or on-grid and shares his experience with batteries and the dangers of high winds to solar panels.
At last, we construct the foundation.
An amazing, off-the-grid Welsh hobbit house was built in less than four months and for less than $5,000.
We finally build somthing!
We look for materials bargains while devising a way to pay for it all.
Rancho Margot in Costa Rica is completely off the grid and constantly closing the circle. Nothing is wasted on this self-sufficient ranch, where everything is considered a resource--including methane from the compost ovens.
Let's stop for a minute and think about what we are doing!
Cam describes a recent adventure involving round bales, train tracks and a stressful drive home.
Jeff and wife Kathy have lived off-grid since 2002. They strive to inform the public about ways to live inexpensively, and to further the principle of sustainability. Visit their website to learn more: www.naturalpower.weebly.com
Sue McKay Miller divested herself of nearly everything she owned and moved into a yurt in the wilderness to determine how much she really needs to live a satisfying life. Turns out, she really doesn't need much.
Cam is handling this heatwave much better thanks to his solar-powered air conditioner!
Cam describes the benefits of writing this blog and his recent book.
After a wildfire destroyed their off-the-grid compound in Colorado, Betty and Rolland rebuilt—better than before—following Rolland’s creed: no plywood, no plastic and nothing that smells bad when it burns. The wildlife around their home approve.
When a fire destroyed their home and office near San Luis Obispo, Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper seized the opportunity to build the off-the-grid straw bale home of their dreams. Their comfortable compound now houses two other families as well.
Since they built their solar- and wind-powered cordwood home in Desboro, Ontario, Lisa and Ray Racicot have never looked back. The only thing they'll do differently next time is install the renewable energy systems first, to power the construction.
Deb and Tommy have spent just $7,500 to set up their off-the-grid homestead in Oklahoma's Kiamichi Mountains, which relies on one 80-watt solar panel for power. As they learn more, they will continue to build their systems.
Michael Funk's 6,000-square-foot off-the-grid home and retreat center on 1,200 acres in the Sierra Nevadas is an heirloom, handbuilt with reverence for the spectacle that surrounds it. He hopes it will inspire every visitor to preserve the paradise.
Cyndee and Tony love being in control of their own power and never having to worry about rate increases and outages in south-central Colorado. Solar panels, a wind turbine and a wood-fired boiler keep them plenty warm and happy.
These seasoned off-the-grid veterans have found that hefty batteries make for a happy home.
Liza Fleischer was a suburbanite through and through when she met her husband, Ted, who she says was "born 100 years too late." Now they live in a solar- and hydro-powered hand-built home on 160 acres in Vermont--and she loves it.
Kate and Jeff are building their off-the-grid dream near Taos, New Mexico. As they build themselves a small straw bale house and make do with a few solar panels, they're realizing how little they really need.
When Paula and Matt learned that running a utility line to their rural Vermont home would cost the same as buying solar panels, they never hesitated. Now they're living the good life, off the grid.
Michael Strizki proves that living off the grid doesn't have to mean sacrificing comfort.
Only 43 percent of Americans know what smart grid technology is, and of those, 70 percent don’t really understand how it works, according to a survey released today.
Consumers are intrigued by smart grid technology, but they need a lot more information and better tools before they'll participate.
Once our bodies and our imaginations are engaged, the incremental change begins. Then it gets easier and easier to envision humanity occupying this planet–this beautiful, abundant planet–far into the future.
A year-long study in Oklahoma found that consumers who used energy-tracking technology and pricing plans that let them analyze their usage can cut their consumption in half.
A typical winter morning chore - cleaning off the solar panels.
Cam shares his experiences getting lost in the woods.
The difference between power and energy and how it relates to toast!
Technology allows us to live where we live, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with!
Cam shares some of the things he is grateful for....
What's the most efficient way to boil water?
An introduction to Cam Mather's off-grid home and lifestyle.
We have the technology, today, to make our power grid more sustainable, cleaner, more robust and more reliable just by replacing old-fashioned metering with “smart-metering” and agreeing to pay homeowners who generate electricity.
Tell us what you think. If you installed a wind turbine or solar-electric panels, would you want to be tied to the electric grid, or would you rather have a grid-independent system?
Going off the grid offers complete energy independence — no utility bills, no grid outages, ever — but it takes some effort, and you will need to learn how to conserve energy.
There's lots of good information on renewable energy in this new NPR series on electricity in America.
It's easy to find out what fuels your power comes from using this nifty tool from the EPA.
If we want more electricity from renewable sources, we need to think about upgrades to our electric grid.
The term "living off the grid" can be used in different ways, but it means something very specific when you start looking at producing electricity from renewable sources.
Texas is already the U.S. leader in wind power, and that lead is about to get even bigger.