Follow by Email


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Right size for two

A friend was complaining about having a teenager living in his house. There's his 20 minute showers, standing in front of an open refrigerator door unable to make a decision, and never turning off lights.

The poor kid would be suffering at my house. His shower would run cold and he'd probably drain the house batteries down to nothing, to be left shivering in the dark.

My lovely wife and I are living with a pretty small energy budget, but we aren't suffering. In fact I think we are living extremely well. We try and get by with what the sun provides. That doesn't always work out, but our generator usage is still less expensive than grid power.

We were always pretty frugal with our energy usage, at least by American standards. However, after living on a small sailboat for a while, we've cut our usage even more. It doesn't take all that much to be comfortable, but it does take some awareness.

I'm thinking it's not the teenager's fault. Unless taught otherwise, electric power comes from those plugs in the wall, hot water comes out faucets, and food comes from refrigerators. Few really have a handle on how all those things are provided. Maybe they have vague ideas, but since it's usually someone else doing the providing, they don't really get it.

Growing up I spent a lot of time at my dad's hunting camp. How comfortable the camp got was a function on how good a job I did filling the woodshed. I could use all the water I wanted. There was 5 gallon jug and a trail down to the stream. There was no electricity at all. The big luxury items were the propane stove and two propane gas lights. When the propane ran out we cooked on the stove and used an antique kerosene lamp for light. I loved life at that camp.

Now I've got a well pump, electric lights, and the Internet. I'm living large and don't take it for granted.



  1. My youngest is moving out next week.Me and the wife have a bet on how long it will last.your friend and me have a lot in common.Kids have no clue what they cost.Our expenses will decrease but i bet the bank of daddy will have to make "LOANS'.Such is life!

    1. Let me do the math. One kid moving out. Expenses drop by 2/3? :)

  2. I was born in a small village in the south of France five years after the end on ww2, we had very little, toilets were a bucket and my job was to empty it, in a large hole in the garden, that was also my job to dig it. I used to forage for fruits, greens and so on. My daughter has little idea about where electricity comes from or about turning the lights that are needed off! Costs?? No real idea about it I think. Life has probably been too easy with evething provided without having to make the lightest efforts. I don't think we've done them any favours.

    1. We want our kids to have it easier than we did, but we also want them to be aware. They grew up in a time of relative abundance, so that seems normal.

      I'm worried that in the long run the kids will have it harder. The cheap resources are gone or going. There will be less to go around.

  3. it is tough for many out there now to live, it going to get nightmarish soon for them and the rest to ajust

    but for you and me, being we live on less, those whom laughed at us in the past won't be laughing any m,ore

    welcome to the real world