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Could you live on $400 a week?

Home Forums SIMPLE SUSTAINABLE LIVING Living within your means Could you live on $400 a week?

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  • #446769
    pavbenthpavbenth
    Member

    For the budget voyeurists out there, the following blog posts I wrote detail my current expenses and my future expenses when I am set up on my property.

    Now – http://desirableworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/the-costs-of-living-in-this-world-and-my-desired-world-part-1/

    Future – http://desirableworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/the-costs-of-living-in-this-world-and-my-desired-world-part-2/

    #446770
    pavbenthpavbenth
    Member

    “My dream would be to live off the grid but not far from town in an area with good rainfall and reasonable soil.”

    My dream too, Boshy. I’m fortunate to have a small business that I can run from almost anywhere – provided I have an internet connection, really. It already pays me a small but adequate profit – to live off-grid, somewhat self-sufficiently; it’s no where near enough to get by on here in the city. It’s the start-up costs that are the tricky bit. So I will continue to work and work and work and save and save and save.

    Hi. I am Pavel. I write a blog called Desirable World. There I discuss voluntary simplicity, permaculture, cycling, and a whole heap of other stuff.

    #446771
    SnagsSnags
    Member

    People need to remember when off grid

    ie.

    battery powered solar,some of the money you save not paying electricity bills will need to saved to replace batteries or the system.

    Its not free power, its actually expensive power.(if you do the sums of the system and replacement over a realistic time frame).

    Dont know if you get the rebate twice either.

    #446772
    pavbenthpavbenth
    Member

    Well aware of all of that, Snags. Solar is actually pretty cheap when compared to the cost of having grid power delivered to an unserviced block. I’ve heard prices in the $10-20k range. Likewise water and waste management.

    Also, the first thing to remember when setting up a solar system is to calculate your usage and try and reduce it. My needs can comfortably be satisfied with a 800W system with enough battery power to cover me for 48 hours. (If I need longer than that, I can resort to the back-up generator.)

    #446773
    SnagsSnags
    Member

    I pay about $500ish a year on electricity

    Without 1.5 kw solar (grid tie) it would be about $1200ish

    $3000 spent on solar plus 20 years of power = $13,000 (at todays prices)

    I might need a new inverter in that time($500/$1000) but its still cheaper than having to get stand alone and then replace batteries.

    Power and fuel for generators isnt going to get cheaper but neither are batteries.

    I would consider these when selecting a block.

    Also take into consideration proximity to rail,you dont want to rely on you or your stuff to be moved by trucks/cars/planes in the high oil priced future.

    Re expensive plumbing

    Water tanks and composting toilets(non service contracted ones)are the way to go unless the council objects.

    Dont know if water tanks pay for themselves in a purely financial way but it does taste better and water isnt going to get cheaper.

    Ive got $6000 worth of tanks and am about to buy another $2000 worth

    It will give me veggies in the dry which should save me about $1000ish a year

    Water here would easily cost an extra $1000 if I watered the gardens.(we have very expensive water)

    I have town and tank,but rarely use town,but am close if it doesnt rain in the next week.

    #446774
    pavbenthpavbenth
    Member

    Thanks for your insight, Snags. It certainly sounds like you have been though it all.

    The off-grid system I have designed comes in at about $2500 including batteries. (This is not a kit – each component has been hand-selected based on recommendations from others who have built similar systems in similar environments.) The breakdown is:

    Capital expenditure: $2,500

    Recurring costs: $0 (actually, let’s say, for fun, $100/year in maintenance)

    Compare this to connecting to reticulated power ($20,000), installing an on-grid solar system to subsidise usage ($3,000), and ongoing electricity costs (let’s be conservative and say $1,000/year) I’m confident the off-grid system I have in mind will be cheaper in the long run, even if I have to buy extra batteries or a new inverter or three.

    Definitely going down the water tanks / dry composting loo track. Again, having no services available make this a necessity rather than a choice. One that I am very comfortable with and look forward to. I really dislike flushing valuable nutrients down the train and mindlessly piping in my drinking water. I want to be more accountable. My father use to have a property that ran on rainwater. It’s a good way to learn respect for the stuff.

    #446775
    SnagsSnags
    Member

    Im assuming with that system you wont have much refrigeration needs.

    Diet and lifestyle dictates a fair bit.

    Part of our budgeting involves buying in bulk and only shopping every 3 months

    This requires a few fridges and a deep freeze and lots of garden, pantry and preserving.

    So I would need the $50,000 dollar 3KW stand alone system my mate has ($25g after subsidy)but I was already connected to the grid so wouldnt get the subsidy.

    Im still ahead even before he changes batteries and he has blown a few after only a few years.

    #446776
    threedogsthreedogs
    Member

    We are going off grid in stages. Shortly we are putting our fridge and a freezer on its’ own stand alone system for about $1100. Then a solar/wind stand alone for water pumping for around $2000. Then a set up for lights and general appliances circa $2000 (rough idea). This might not be the most cost efficient way of doing it but it is what can work for us. There is a small company importing small stand alone systems components and solar fridges/freezers to do exactly what we are doing. They are in Queensland and have done stories and advertise in Grass Roots. Will have to find their website details and post.

    #446777
    pavbenthpavbenth
    Member

    “I’m assuming with that system you wont have much refrigeration needs.”

    You’re quite right. I lived for many years, in the city, with a 120L bar fridge and hardly used it. My intention is to purchase something smaller, like the Haier HBF55W which burns approximately 146kWh/yr.

    “Diet and lifestyle dictates a fair bit. Part of our budgeting involves buying in bulk and only shopping every 3 months. This requires a few fridges and a deep freeze and lots of garden, pantry and preserving.”

    I am considering a deep freezer. We will see. But do intend to do a lot of bottling. (Ironic, isn’t it – bottling requires gas to boil water, so something that must be bought in (unless I do it on the fire?) unlike a deep freezer or dehydrator which uses electricity which can be produced off-grid.) I eat a mostly vegan diet so don’t have the need to refrigerate much meat or dairy.

    #446778
    pavbenthpavbenth
    Member

    “There is a small company importing small stand alone systems components and solar fridges/freezers to do exactly what we are doing. They are in Queensland and have done stories and advertise in Grass Roots. Will have to find their website details and post.”

    Please do share the name of the company, Threedogs. I am always interested to read about new and interesting (and appropriate) technology. From my humble observations, some of these tech fixes are horribly expensive and one is better off just amping up their solar system or the like.

    #446779
    SnagsSnags
    Member

    pavbenth post=358491 wrote:

    But do intend to do a lot of bottling. (Ironic, isn’t it – bottling requires gas to boil water, so something that must be bought in (unless I do it on the fire?) unlike a deep freezer or dehydrator which uses electricity which can be produced off-grid.)

    Rocket stove and a solar dehydrater

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=solar+dehydrator&client=firefox-a&hs=poZ&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&channel=rcs&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=q0xVUqqZJuWSiAeJ14HICg&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=616&dpr=1

    #446780
    pavbenthpavbenth
    Member

    “Rocket stove and a solar dehydrater

    http://www.google.com.au/search?q=solar+dehydra…w=1024&bih=616&dpr=1.”

    Thanks, Snags. I was going to say – I bet there are some great ‘natural’ ways of doing these things. Even more ironic, I was talking about dehydration at work yesterday and saw a YouTube video for a $6 rocket stove last night. Ah, the industriousness.

    #446781
    threedogsthreedogs
    Member

    Dehydrating: park the car in the sun. Put windows down an inch and put your trays of stuff on the back shelf or the dash. Works for me. 🙂

    #446782
    df418df418
    Member

    3 adult can live quite comfortably on 500w solar panels & 880 amp/hr batteries.

    We use a 120 l upright freezer (turned on 4 times a day for 1/2 hour) as a fridge, laptops, fluro lights this setup cost $3,500 and gives us 7 days autonomy. Haven’t turned the genny on for power in the 3 years we have had the system

    #446783
    SnagsSnags
    Member

    Depends on climate and diet

    I turned off my 3rd fridge yesterday

    Hope to be down to one fridge and a chest freezer in the next month as I eat up the supplies and not go shopping to replace them till after the new year.

    Should be fun trying to work out what to cook with what I have left.

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