A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It all started with one lightbulb

My husband does oil paintings. He's very good, I think. One of the drawbacks, though, is that to paint, he requires good, consistent light. For the past almost 3 years, we have lived without electricity, which makes obtaining the light he needs difficult. We do have a generator, however. So he recently went out and bought a compact fluorescent bulb for a lamp we have had sitting around unused for the last 3 years. I came home from work that day to find the generator running, my husband happily painting, and this amazingly bright light in our bedroom.

Since we moved into this house, we have lived without electricity, because MEA wants $30,000 to hook us up. That's a lot to pay for the privilege of paying them every month for the rest of our lives. Plus, we don't exactly have $30,000 sitting around collecting dust.

We have made do with a propane lantern, and some battery powered LED lights that can sit on tables, counters, etc., and provide a minimally useful amount of light.

But coming home to this huge amount of light in my house made us start a new conversation. When we built the house, we wired it for electricity, assuming that one day, we would have some. We just had not put in light fixtures or outlets, because we didn't think it would happen very soon. So we started talking about maybe getting some outlets, switches, and light fixtures, and a pigtail to connect the house to the generator. It didn't take much talking. We now have light in our house, and thanks to compact fluorescents that don't use much power, we can have light in our entire house if we need it, without stressing out the generator, at least for a few hours a day while the generator is running.

This is a huge improvement. It has turned cooking and eating dinner into a completely different experience. I can knit in the evenings without a headlamp. Plus, we can charge the cell phones, the kids' nintendos, etc. We really love it.

BUT. There is always a but, isn't there? In some ways, it feels a little like defeat. Like we compromised for convenience. It is also important to us to try to live in a way that is as friendly to the climate as possible. The generator runs on gasoline. A lot of gasoline. And I am guessing it does not run particularly cleanly. And it is noisy.

We are making plans for solar panels, maybe a windmill, and batteries, and only using the generator for backup. But that is a long ways down the road, after the addition is done. We will have the generator for a while. Two steps forward, one step back.

- Posted from my iPhone


Aonika and Richard said...

CONGRATULATIONS On your new light - I am so glad to know that you do not have to knit with a headlamp. LOVE YOU - A

Anonymous said...

Have you considered running the generator on woodgass?