Saturday, December 21, 2019

Prepare for an Unreliable Power Grid and Higher Energy Prices

By Timothy Gamble

In a dystopian future, we aren't going to be able to rely on cheap and readily available electricity. Oh, there will be electricity, and an infrastructure to produce and deliver it. But it will grow increasingly expensive, and at some point will become unreliable (poor power quality, brownouts and even blackouts at times). This situation will affect to poor and middle class disproportionately, as the Elites will be able to afford the higher prices, and somehow the electricity to their mansions and high-rises will continue to flow with few interruptions. 

So, prepare now for higher energy prices, and less reliable energy in the future. One way to do this is through energy efficiency. Here is my story:

Several years ago, I went about making my family home of about 1,500 square feet more energy efficient. Some of the things I did included:

     1.  Repairs to the shell of the home
     2.  Repairs to the insulation under the house
     3.  Replaced old appliances with new, energy efficient models
     4.  Replaced old windows with energy-efficient windows
     5.  Switched indoor lights to CFLs and, more recently, LEDs.
     6.  Filled in all gaps where pipes & wires come into the house (kitchen, bathrooms, utility room) with a can of spray foam insulation (this also makes it harder for insects and other pests to get in your home).

As a result of these repairs, I was able to reduce my home's energy use by about 60% on a month-by-month basis compared to the same month of the previous year. Please note that this was achieved without any change in lifestyle or personal behavior, but rather through energy efficiency only.

The total cost of all this was about $6,800 (the biggest chunk of it being the windows). Between the lower monthly energy bills and the tax credit for the new energy-efficient windows, the break even point on this investment was about three years. Since then, the significant monthly savings has meant money in the bank for me.

The really great thing is that electricity prices could literally double and my monthly power bill will still be lower than it was before these improvements.  How is that for a hedge against inflation?

I feel certain that most American homes, and businesses for that matter, could probably achieve similar energy savings by simply making their buildings more energy efficient.

Of course, wasteful actions (usually due to simple thoughtlessness) should be stopped as part of achieving energy efficiency. Again, this can be done without major changes in lifestyle or personal behavior:

     1.  Turn off lights when not in a room
     2.  Turn off radios, TVs & other electronics when not in use
     3.  Unplug unnecessary clocks, kitchen gadgets & so forth 

     4.  Set thermostats lower in winter (wear sweaters, use an extra blanket, etc.)
     5.  Set thermostats higher in summer (electric fans make you feel 5° cooler)
     6.  Take quick showers (less hot water used = less energy used = more money saved)

Remember, the more energy you save, the more money you save. Good luck, and good savings...

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Ready to take stronger steps to protect yourself from future energy problems and inflation? Then get a copy of The Homeowner's Energy Handbook: Your Guide to Getting Off the Grid. This book offers ways to lower your energy costs, generate more of your own power, and become less reliant on the grid. Explaining the fundamentals of solar, wind, water, and biofuel energy production, Paul Scheckel shows you how to build and maintain a wide variety of energy-saving and energy-producing equipment, ranging from thermosiphon solar hot water collectors to bicycle-powered generators. 
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