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Living Offgrid Affordably #11: A Plan Comes Together

| 2/13/2012 10:35:46 AM

Jeff with his one kilowatt arrayAfter almost dying from asphyxiation, then settling in for the winter in the last article Time To Batten Down The Hatches, I felt pretty good about my chances of being around to actually see spring arrive. It was the end of November by now, and it never dawned on me that I would be living in a 12 x 20 foot room for at least the next three months. I was too busy with everything else at the time to think about that. Being alone for an extended span would allow the creative thought process juices to really flow. I had to come up with a plan, a floor plan, that is.

As discussed in early articles, I did not have a large retirement account to fall back on in later years. A better idea to me was to try to set up a lifestyle and home that would not cost a fortune to maintain. Not having a lot of money would not be a bad thing if I didn’t need a lot of money. What a concept! I intensely disliked the amount of “typical” monthly bills that everyone just assumes are part of life. So, how abnormal would we have to become to minimize or eliminate “monthly bills”? As it turned out, not very.

After a massive amount of pondering, I decided to stray from the conventional technique of laying out a house floor plan. Certain things had just always been done a certain way, and the question I had was, why? Some things made no sense to me. I then set out to turn conventional thinking on it’s ear.

Before starting this fiasco, uh project, I wanted to use a 12/12 pitch roof, a 45 degree angle, which is very effective at shedding debris, rain, and snow. The steep slope would lessen the likelihood of leaks, as well as facilitate the ventilation and heat distribution ideas I had for the interior.

The first, and I think most groundbreaking, epiphany involved the kitchen cooking stove and the refrigerator. The cook stove is the second largest heat source in the home. What sense does it make to place the refrigerator immediately adjacent to, or very near, a large heat source? The operation of one is quite detrimental to the other, creating inefficiency and higher operating costs for both. There had to be a better way.

I decided to construct a “cooler box” on the opposite side of the kitchen from the cook stove. This “cooler box” would be a room, 4 x 6 feet, heavily insulated, with a door. The fridge would go inside, and this room would help insulate it from the heat of the building, especially in winter. I could weatherstrip the door threshold, then run a pvc vent pipe to the outside to flood the “cooler box” with cold air during the winter. A valve would close the vent in summer. All of this should minimize fridge run time year-round. The “cooler box” would also serve as a root cellar. The southwest corner of the building would not be the optimum location for this room, but the arrangement surely would work better than the standard. We will cover all the details of “cooler box” construction and refrigerator installation at the appropriate time.

george reese
2/14/2012 12:50:29 AM

We're on the same page my friends. Looking forward to the rest of your story and plan on the same lifestyle in just a few short years myself.

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