Audible notifications when air quality changes

Submitted by Greg on Wed, 09/23/2020 - 03:40

Climate change has raised many new problems impacting everyday life. One challenge we recently wrestled with was the combined effects of smoke from surrounding forest fires and the stifling mugginess of a heat wave. Keeping the windows closed to keep the smoke out made it more difficult to control the temperature in the house, but beyond that, too long with the windows closed leads to a very stuffy environment.

Energy storage and meeting our future energy needs

Submitted by Greg on Fri, 06/23/2017 - 16:51

Storage of electricity is expensive, because batteries are expensive, and lose power over time. Batteries are getting less expensive all the time, though, and are easy to add to existing systems. Batteries are a good way to shift excess power from peak generation time to peak load. This was never something anyone had to even consider doing in the past, because it has only been recently that peak generation has out-produced demand during the daytime. So, traditionally, people only think of long-term storage needs, which batteries are not good for.


Water Conservation, Farming, and Food in California

Submitted by Barbara on Tue, 04/21/2015 - 19:33

Somewhere along the road in 2014, I read an article about Ugly Produce.  I had heard in the past that somewhere around 50% of our food goes to waste, but Ugly Produce brought home the idea in a whole new way.  I had always assumed the waste was the result of inefficiencies in the system—food that spoiled before it got to someone who wanted to eat it.  Ugly Produce was the first time I thought about perfectly good food being discarded because it didn’t meet some standard other than edibility. 

Alas, our hive has passed away

Submitted by Greg on Sun, 02/02/2014 - 08:49

Today we made the sad discovery that our Queen had died, and our hive had passed away.  There were some signs that all was not right a couple of weeks ago when I looked in and saw that there were very few bees in the hive -- only two or three frames covered in the brood box, and none elsewhere.  Last week it seemed like things were looking up, as there were bees active up in the super, but when I came back today, there was no activity at all.


Winter is Coming

Submitted by Barbara on Wed, 05/29/2013 - 18:17

Winter is coming and its going to be a long winter this time around.  How do I know?  I dont really know.  But in 2008 during the housing market & banking crash, the media said it was really really bad, but dont worry it will all be fixed right away.   I knew one of those two things was a lie because they cannot exist together.  I told everyone either it isnt really bad and it will get better immediately, or it is really bad and its going to take four to five years before it looks right again.  Many people chose to argue the media line with me, but

Red List 2013-Food

Submitted by Barbara on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 19:07

We decided to do another challenge this year.   Many of the Riot for Austerity folks agreed to do a month without groceries (many of them excepting 1-2 special items.  ie:  milk for the kids).  We couldn't agree on it as a family so instead we pulled our Red List concept out of the hat.

Basic idea is to write down everything purchased grocery wise for a month to give a seasonal snap shot of what we are buying and how much.  This is what we bought for the month of March.

Thermal Bin part IV

Submitted by Barbara on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 16:52

Well, this is where the heartbreak happens.  After only two weeks we had to disassemble our Thermal Bin.  Not because the temperatures had dropped but rather because we noticed that the free mulch was infested with red spider mites.  They had laid low when we were shoveling and moving the stuff, but a little after a week we started to notice them crawling everywhere.  Turns out to be a good thing that we didnt get it plumbed in but not for any of the reasons the plumbers gave for not helping. 

Thermal Bin 2.5

Submitted by Barbara on Sun, 03/03/2013 - 16:38

Im calling this 2.5 because our original paper plan quickly showed itself to have some problems. 

Here is how we are constructing Thermal Bin 2.5

Grey Water Toilet Hack

Submitted by Barbara on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 17:03
Most municipal grey water regulation will not allow for the use of grey water in toilets. If you have ever looked in side a toilet tank then you may have observed that the tank does not empty 100% with each flush. This means that icky things have a stable water supply to grow in. This is the main obstacle to using grey water in a toilet tank. I believe this hack is in compliance with grey water codes. I should point out here that this is based on my understanding of our local codes. This may or may not meet codes in your area. Code may change in the future disallowing this type of use.

Skeptical about buying things used? So was I.

Submitted by Greg on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 05:49

A few years ago, my wife told me about a group of people who make a pledge to not buy new things for a whole year. There are exceptions on their list, of course; there is no such thing as used food or fuel, or other consumables, and it is expected that certain important items like underwear will still be purchased new, but for the most part, the rule was to buy it used or do without.

Our Summer (almost) without hot water Part IV

Submitted by Barbara on Fri, 09/28/2012 - 17:58

Its the end of September and we have almost exhausted this topic.  It brings us good news and bad news.  Bad news out of the way first. 

We had estimated that we would use 9.1 therms during our final month long experiment.  The results are that we used 10 therms.  Why is that?  Either the one afternoon of canning ketchup is responsible, or some of our assumptions about how much the pilots burn is slightly faulty.  Either way its a reasonable margin of error considering we dont have more accurate instruments.