Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Saving on The Cost of Laundry Soap

The cost of laundry soap is a huge budget buster in today's economy.  If you do not currently make your own lye soap, please make an attempt at doing it at least once. There are all kinds of recipes on the internet to learn how.  The "how to's" have videos.

If you do not want to start with your own handmade soap, get several bars of your favorite soap and a grater. Be sure that you would like the scent on your clothes. 

Grate two bars of soap to a gallon of water in a stainless steel or enamel pot. Add a 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and place it in the sun with a lid. Stir occasionally until the soap is melted. Over time the soap may thicken so adding water to desired thickness for pouring will help.  

We use left over coffee containers, but any bucket that is not metal will do.  Soap is caustic and may eat metal.  Fragrance oils can also be added such as Fresh Linen to unscented soap. 

Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load depending on the size of the washer and whether or not it is a front loader.  Front loaders use less laundry soap.  This laundry soap can be used in cold water, it does not clump.

Now if I could just figure out how to make toilet paper.

If you would, I would like to hear back on how you liked the soap and your savings. 

I'm Tired

I'm tired. I took off work today because I'm tired... Tired of spending the better part of my time hating the job that I do so that I can live in a remote area that I love. I am hardly ever there.

I'm tired of having to make money to support a government so that I can keep my land and the house they told me I could build.

I have worked for 40 years. Somehow during that time I envisioned how I wanted to live and managed to attain that dream in the past couple of years. Now my dream is being over shadowed by the need to make money to sustain a very small portion of how I would like to live.

I'm tired of going to work with a knot in the pit of my stomach hoping that the day was already over. I don't know how many more days I have to regret. I'm tired of listening to grouchy people who feel they have the right to make me miserable as a means to make themselves feel better. I used to be one of those people...angry, frustrated, unhappy about my life and myself. I made everyone around me hurt. What did I gain from this? Tired and worn down. I am forgetting to watch the sunrise and set.

I have a website in hopes of making enough money so that I don't have to have outside income. I am finding that I like telling stories. That I am not a salesperson. Once it was time to monetize my site, I lost all focus and interest. One person told me that my website reads like a blog. They were right. So here I am on my blog.

I know this is not the norm for offgrid living but I think it comes with the territory. How do you make a living while living off grid? How do you live once you find out how you want to live?

Wood Pellet Baskets

We were looking the other day at pellet stoves. A cord of wood where we are in Arizona is about $400.00. Frankly, we are getting too old to cut and split firewood. We have two chain saws that haven't worked right since we got them.

Not knowing how much electricity a pellet stove uses, we were in search of an answer. Changing the stove pipe which for us, was almost as much as our stove, was not appealing. We still do not know the electrical draw for a pellet stove, but we did come across wood pellet baskets. These baskets can be used in any wood stove. We ordered one for our wood stove hoping next time we can make one.

We was so excited, we were not looking forward to spending another $2000.00 or more to change stoves. We still have the option to burn firewood. We took a look at the price of a ton of pellets as opposed to the bags. Took into consideration the storage and decided that the $.001 cent per pound for the difference was not worth trying to store. For about 11 cents a pound, we can cut our energy cost by about 1/3. Pellets burn cleaner and more efficiently.

There is a small out of pocket expense to start and can be pay as you go. It is like picking up a three or four bags of dog food each week. If it does not work not much is lost and we still have our wood stove.

There seems to be two different types of baskets. One is a wire mesh and the other is tubes welded together. Although, we like the tube better, it would not fit through the opening of our stove so we chose the wire basket.

One of the issues that we may be face is controlling the burn with the damper. We will let you know how that works.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Solar or not?

Solar was about the only way we could go when we decided to live in the Arizona desert. It was also at that time about all we could afford. We were not trying to make a statement one way or the other. This is what we needed in order to live where we chose to live.

Our retirement plan was "what can we do without in order to survive?". Through with the lay offs we have gotten a pretty good preview of what we can live without.

We started planning for the fall of the economy when the housing market started rising dramatically about 6 years ago. We were one of the fortune ones that bought low and sold high, took 13 years of owning our home but it quadrupled in price. It was a very modest home. Within 1 1/2 years the home we sold was barely worth what we paid for it in the 90's.

So here we are, unemployed and very thankful we do not have a mortgage or utilities. We lost nothing when we lost our jobs accept some pride. Most people would be homeless after 6 months.

We put all that money up front into solar when we were working and now we are reaping the rewards. We are surviving.

Granted a grid-tie solar system is a bit less expensive than an offgrid one due to the charge controller and battery backup. But if you are going to go solar, do a stand alone system if possible. We would never sell back to a utility company at a fraction of the rate we were buying. Let them buy the land and the solar to put on it. We did all of the research, leg work and put the money, sweat and tears into this off grid solar system. We don't need them anymore. We paid for the system, it belongs to us and it is not for sale for a penny on the dollar.

Eventually, it will get to the point to where they need us. Think about it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Do-it-Yourself Solar Kits

An inexpensive way to introduce yourself to solar

Solar kits are a good way to learn about installing your own solar. Buy an inexpensive do-it-yourself solar kit. We purchased a solar kit for an RV when we first started out. It was only a 20 watt panel, charge controller, the adjustable rack and cables. It came with all of the instructions for installation.

Anything that bought that is solar is not going to be a waste of money. It gave us a really good understanding of how solar worked and it powered the lights on our travel trailer and kept the batteries charged since we only used it on weekends.

The 20 watt panel now is used to power our booster pump for the well It has been up and running for almost 4 years and we have never, rain or shine ever run out of water.

It is independent of our home solar so if we use too much power or during monsoon when there is not enough sunlight, we still have running water coming to the house. All of our neighbors, have to run their generators in the morning in order to have water. We never have.

So if you want to try out solar but do not want to spend a lot of money, buy an inexpensive do-it-yourself solar kit and try it.