Kelly Mead


Home for less than $20,000

An electrician from England built himself and his girlfriend alarge comfy home for less than $20,000, (£12,000). Daniel Bond turned a double-decker bus into his new home after being priced out of the housing market

The couple were unable to afford a deposit and found it almost impossible to get a mortgage because he is a self employed electrician and the British banks are not lending. So he rented a scrap of land in Kent, Southern England, and spent four months turning a neglected vehicle into a two bedroom home
It is kitted out with a double bedroom, a twin bedroom, kitchen, TV lounge, bar, toilet and bathroom.

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Five tips for preppers

From food to money to to water sources – things to consider when preparing for the worst

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Powering your cell phone

I know, I know – how do you call yourself off the grid when you have a cell phone so rooted to your ear that you would need surgery to remove it?

Whatever. We take life as we find it, and in most cases these days that means heavy smartphone usage is the norm off the grid. And that means battery maintenance is crucial to our daily peace of mind. And this info is useful not just to off-grid types but to anyone whose life is mobile but who needs to stay in touch via multiple media whilst they are on the road.

Cell phones and tablets have become incredibly powerful over the past few years, but the batteries, sadly, have not kept up. But there are a few ways to keep phones alive long past their normal exhaustion points.

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Electric filling station

electron filling stationNew York’s first solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station is open for business.

It is the first in New York State and one of few world-wide. The charging station was built by Beautiful Earth Group, a New York-based sustainable energy company,and sits on an industrial lot near the company’s headquarters in Red Hook, Brooklyn, overlooking New York Harbor and downtown Manhattan.

Designed and built by BE, the station is off-grid, modular, constructed with recycled, decommissioned steel shipping containers and entirely powered by state-of-the-art Sharp 235 watt photovoltaic panels.

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A Natural Home

A manufactured log home during construction
Super Good Cents log home, Idaho .
Pioneers living in log cabins were part of American frontier times. Now its part of the new frontier — living a healthy and self-sustaining lifestyle.
The choices available to those wishing to build a log home range from factory pre-cut to handmade on-site. Pre-cut kits are nothing new and have been available since 1923. Most manufactures will allow homeowners to customize their design to make it almost as one-of-a-kind as those handmade on-site.
A plus of log homes is that since most log homes are produced from local renewable wood sources they use much less energy

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Calculating Possible Energy From A Stream

A Typical MicroHydo Power System
A Typical MH set-up on a river.
If you have a stream, you have a renewable, natural source of energy that, if done right, can have little to no impact on the environment around you. Using water as a power source goes back to ancient times. Roman was known to power their empire on it. There is abundant supply of streams and rivers that criss cross the US making micro-hydro power feasible. That is especially true in remote wooded areas where other natural energy, such as solar or wind, would be harder to integrate into the existing environment.

A micro-hydro power system needs a sufficient amount of falling water to be available in order to be feasible. Mountainous and hilly sites are best suited for this type of renewable energy. To figure out the amount of power that is possible from your water source you need to know the head and flow of your stream. The head is the vertical distance of the falling water. While the flow is the speed the water flows at.

A micro-hydro power site usually falls into either a low or high head category. A higher head is better due to needing less water to produce energy as well as the equipment being cheaper than those with a low head. A change in elevation that is less then 10ft (3 meters) is categorized as low head. Anything with a vertical drop less than 2ft (.6 meters) will make a micro-hydro power system not possible. Though if you have as little as 13” of water depth you are able to utilize a submersible turbine, which was originally designed to power scientific instruments being towed behind exploration ships.

There is both a gross and net head that needs to be calculated. The gross head is the vertical distance between where the water enters the penstock, pipes that convey the water under pressure, to where the water exits the turbine. You calculate your net head by subtracting the friction that is caused by the piping and the turbine itself.

While the best way to get an accurate gross head is to have a professional survey of your desired site, you can do a rough estimate yourself. You can use the hose-tube method by taking stream-depth measurements across the width of the water supply you intend to use. Once you know where you intend to place the beginning of the penstock and the turbine you can follow the direction below.

The Hose-Tube Method is done by:

  1. Make sure you have all supplies needed: Someone to help, 20ft to 30ft (6 to 9 meters) small diameter garden hose, Funnel, Measuring tape or yardstick
  2. Stretch the hose down the water channel from desired entrance to the penstock (usually the highest elevation)
  3. One person place the funnel into the hose upstream as close to the surface as possible
  4. At the downstream position

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Make Sense of Water

Look for this logo on the label of water products and programs to save you water and money.

Managing water has become a growing concern. Though the Earth has abundant water only about 1% is actually available for human use. So taking into account that population and the demand for usable water will be increasing in the future while the supply will remain constant, a decision to increase efficiency by consumers at large was made.

The average American household uses about 100,000 gallons of water a year. And some of that is waste. That adds up to about 900 billion gallons of wasted water from just American households. Off-grid or not – give your bathroom a high-efficiency makeover, and save more than 11,000 gallons annually (over 10%).

Installing WaterSense toilets and faucets or faucet accessories reduces water bills, and the upgrade could pay for itself in a few years and continue to save water and money for years to come.

Replacing all the inefficient toilets in the US alone with WaterSense labeled toilets the US nation could save 640 billion gallons of water that is literally being flushed away every year.

The program works by promoting water efficiency and the products, programs, and practices that can be used every day by people. It was open for public input on May 22, 2008 when the draft specification for water-efficient single family new homes was released. These are open for public input until July 21, 2008. So even though products will be hitting the shelves and programs will be starting soon the complete specifications for this program will not be finalized until later.

Programs and products that meet the performance and efficiency criteria of this EPA program will be allowed to carry the WaterSense label.This can be a big help for those who are remodeling, or trying to cut down on water use for either drought or monetary reasons. With this new label you are assured that these products will perform well, help you save money, and even help to encourage move innovation in the creation of even better performing water products. You can visit the EPA website to see a list of water-efficient products

They have designed many of the products to not require a change in your lifestyle, just in the water you use. Changing faucets, toilets, landscaping devices, etc. is all that is needed to make a positive impact on both your wallet and the environment. For those who live in drought prone areas that can make a big difference if as a community you change over to these new easy to identify products.

Growing communities are now faced with the problem of not only needing an increased supply but the infrastructure to support it. The WaterSense program is also designed to help these communities to build that infrastructure in the most efficient way. This is not a concern for the average citizen but knowing that this program is designed to help the community at large as …

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Cheap Water Filter for Everyone

The Australian National University (ANU) scientist Tony Flynn has developed a process to create water filters from commonly available materials. The materials need to also be fired, which can be done without a kiln or other western technology, by using common manure.

An estimated 80% of all sickness in this world can be attributed to unsafe water and sanitation according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That can be seen in the annual 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea in children under the age of 5, with about four million of those being fatal.

Since historically water filters have had to be imported to developing nations, which means increased cost and reduced availability for the populace. With the new filter design made from common place materials available in even the most remote places.

“These filters are a hollow ceramic vessel filled with charcoal. They are intended to filter out suspended silt and bacteria. However, at around $US5 each, they’re too expensive for individuals in many developing communities to consider purchasing,” stated Mr Flynn. “They are very simple to explain and demonstrate and can be made by anyone, anywhere. They don’t require any Western technology. All you need is terracotta clay, some used coffee grounds or tea leaves, a compliant cow and a match,” Mr Flynn continued “Everyone has a right to clean water, these filters have the potential to enable anyone in the world to drink water safely.”

Filter production is simple:

  • A handful of crushed dry clay
  • A handful of common organic material, such as coffee grounds, rice hulls, or used tea leaves
  • Add water, just enough to make a stiff biscuit dough like mixture
  • Shape into a cylinder shaped pot closed on one end
  • Dry it in sun
  • Place dried filter on a layer of dry manure, a little straw, dead leaves or shredded bark
  • Add two more layers of manure mixture on top
  • Light the straw, dead leaves, or shredder bark
  • Keep fire going until pot is completely cured (less than an hour in most cases, as different materials will mean different times)

Since using a potters kiln can take up to eight to nine hours to achieve the temperatures needed, which can be achieved using this method in a hour or less. Also with the expensive of such a kiln being prohibitive to most people, this is an excellent method anyone can make use of. Especially since no additional technology, or added insulation is needed being able to drink safe, filtered water water in almost any location on the planet. As long as water, manure, red/yellow clay and human organic debris you can make a filter that traps pathogens.

This design is purposely not being patented in a hope that it can be freely used around the world. Their belief that even third world countries should have the ability to have clean safe drinking water.

When the …

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Be Tankless

Being tankless in heating your water is an easy, if somewhat costly, upgrade that you can see immediate benefits from. Costs can vary from about $150 for point of use water heater to household ones starting about $450 going up to $1000 or more for top of the line models. Point of use models install directly under the water fixture which also means less heat loss and you can convert your water heating system slowly one water fixture at a time. But since most houses have at least two sink and a tub you will already go over the cost of the cheapest whole house tankless system. On the plus the up front cost can be spread out over time, and for smaller places such as boats, RV’s, campers, etc. it might just be what you are looking for.

The average household spends $50 or more a month just to keep hot water at the ready. This means that the hot water is heated and then stored in it’s tank to wait for use. Just like anything else that id hot and left to sit heat loss happens and then it needs to be re-heated, which just starts the cycle over again. Once the water is used the cycle is again in place till that water is used, and so on. That is a lot of wasted energy you are paying for just to have the convenience of on demand hot water. At that hot water is finite since the average tank system holds about 40 galleons and tankless can supply an infinite supply. Chyanging over to a tankless system lets you use as little or as much hot water as you need without the worry over running out or heating more than needed.

The lifespan of a tankless water heater, 20+ years, is almost double that of a convential water heater, 8 to 12 years, Also a tankless system is serviceable while most tank water systems are not. Tankless systems also can be installed outside your home or in a fraction of the space vacated by your convetnional one. It’s almost like adding a small closet to your home of usable square footage.

The conventional water heater is only about 40% to 60% energy efficient do to the heat loss through the exhaust and the walls of the tank. While tankless are 60% efficient for the gas version and 99% efficient for the electric version. So for those of you who have or are looking to change to personal energy systems this is one less drain of your limited energy production without lossing the comfort of hot water on demand.

For those who use radiant heat, tankless systems can work for you too., They can be installed in RV’s boats,mobile homes, sheds, barns, etc. So the applications seem almost endless for anyplace you need/want on demand hot water production. …

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3rd Annual Bike for Peace and New Energies

From June 12 through August 16, 2008 bike riders will be going from Paris to Moscow and then on to Peking. All in an effort to raise awareness that peace and facing the looming energy crisis is not just a local but international issue.
In 2006 and 2007 this ride was only from Paris to Moscow, this year it has been expanded to Peking after their success. This ride is also open to any solar electric rides as this is also a way to promote the use of alternative and renewable energies. Another of the unique aspects of this ride is that everyone is expected to pitch in and help one another. That means helping with meals, cleaning up th dishes, putting tents up, giving a helping hand to your fellow riders, etc. This event hope to pull riders from all nationalities and walks of life who all wish to promote peace and the use of renewable energies instead of the standard oil.

The stated goals of the organization are :

  • Renewable energies instead of wars for oil
  • Disarmament and social reconciliation
  • Peace policy instead of Milty violence
  • War must not be any more a means of policy
  • Create sustainable and peaceful Europe
  • Abashment of all nuclear weapons until 2020
  • Sporty meetings in the Olympic Spirit

They go in depth for each goal on the site, you can click here to take a look. This event is just an example of how the energy crisis that is looming, if not actually here, is being felt not just here in the USA but as the world as a whole. That being said the solutions we are more concerned with are those that touch us close4r to home. That is likely the case with most people, and luckily for us using alternative energy is not something only for certain demographics or locations.

What should be realized by those of us going to alternative and renewable energy, especially used on a personal scale, is that a hundred years ago that was the norm. Even in many countries around the world it still is the norm for the average person. Yes, we love our technology but technology does not mean we have to be plugged into the grid to enjoy it. Those living off the grid who love technology still can play with the same toys, though they are more responsible in making sure that phantom power is not being drained when not in use.

Looking around you right now what is plugged in but not on, what is on but not being actively used, what can be turned of because their is a free source for the same resource (lights on during the day)? These are questions you should ask yourself everytime you enter a room or walk through your home/office. You will be amazed at what you find. Habits are hard …

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Need Something To Do This Weekend?

Need something to do in Los Angeles, CA this weekend then we have a deal for you. In our mailbox we found a nice little surprise (unfortunately it’s a few days old) about the third annual Dwell on Design Event. This event is a combination of a conference and exhibition that will run June 5-8, 2008. The conference is scheduled for June 5-6 while the exhibit will follow on June 7-8. This event will be the largest design show in the West.

“With 41,500 subscribers in the Los Angeles area and 10,100 newsstand readers, we knew it was the time to bring a high quality, content-based conference to Los Angeles,” said Michela O’Connor Abrams, Dwell’s Publisher and President.

There will be conference sessions led by industry innovators along with hands-on exhibits for attendees to explore both products and lifestyle demonstrations. A unique part of the exhibition will be a “pop-up” community that is made up of prefab exhibitors that hope to be seen, touched and most of all to inspire. They have partnered with the LA Mayors Office, LA Forum, ASID, ASLA, AIA, LA MOCA, GOOD Magazine and too many others to name in hopes of ensuring a great success. The event is to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Put on by Dwell Magazine and their editors it hope to provide an in-depth look at modern design, architecture and space. This is to be enhanced by perspectives of design professionals, legislators, international guest and activists. Some of the guest include award winning architect from Environa Studio (Australia), Tone Wheeler; Jenna Didler of Materials and Applications, a research center dedicated to pushing new and underused ideas for art, landscape and architecture into view; Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti will also be offering a keynote address. To keep everyone entertained they will also be offering nightly events downtown at various venues. Attendees are hoped to be 12-15,000 for the exhibition. It will feature over 200 exhibitors, who will be hoping to garner those attendees attention.

“Dwell’s brand has received accolades for the past three years in San Francisco in print, online, with homes, and live with Dwell on Design” said O’Connor Abrams. “We are excited to bring the brand to life in Los Angeles, an undisputed capital of modern design”

You can register for the event by clicking here and for a free ticket to the exhibition use the code : BDODEC; for $50 off the cost of the conference use the code : GRP22SP.

Our readers have also been offered a free month of the digital version of the magazine Dwell. So even if you can’t make the convention you can see what the magazine is all about without killing trees or losing any green.

Since we’re on the East Coast there is no way we …

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An Alliance and A Campaign


Since it’s a political year, not that every year isn’t one, we looked around to see who is taking advantage of our politticans being a little more open to listening to going green, being self-sufficient, and/or environmental issues. So of course we checked out the We Can Solve It website.

The We Can Solve It campaign is a project of the Allliance for Climate Protection. The Alliance single purpose is to get the pulic involved and active in solving the climate crisis we are facing. Yes this is the foundation that Former Vice President Al Gore started in 2006. That is not a reason to like or dislike this campaign/organization but it helps to have a big name attached ask any foundation that has celeberties as part of their organization. The idea behind this website looks like a good one. A place to find events, list or (as we did) start groups, blog about your experience or read someone’s blog, and get recent news from the organization.

The organization believes that since public awareness of the climate changes is high then so should the understanding that solutions are needed too. Unfortunately for those of us in the USA climate change (or what ever you wish to call it) has become so entrenched in people political views that getting past the politics and dealing with the reality that our climate is changing, no matter the how or why. Idealogy and sterotypes are rampt in America’s culture and that can be a good thing, who doesn’t love apple pie, but when dealing with reality it doesn’t leave much room for preconcieved ideas. Helping people beak down partisan lines and changing the issue from being politics as usual is a main goal or them.

“What has consistently been missing, however, is a massive and sustained national effort to catalyze a broad culture shift on the issue, raising the climate crisis out of a partisan framework and unlocking the potential for real solutions. Our leaders will take the bold actions needed to solve the climate crisis only when the American people demand that change.” from The Alliance for Climate Protection and the We Campaign: Fact Sheet

joinwecan-5129983If they can accomplish their goals then maybe dealing with the changes in our climate will no longer be a “who/what is at fault” but a “how to deal with it”. So with that thought we added a group to their site called “Off-Grid USA” and we are looking into putting together a real world club that can be a place for those of us going off the grid, green or already there to get together to discuss, share, and help one another.

Interestingly enough listening to the congressional committee on Climate Change and Alternate Energy (may not be the official name) on Cspan the other day it was noticed that the most opening statements were not about …

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