We have lived by solar power and wood for 11 years About 90% of our needs are met. When the sun comes up, it determines what we do for the day.
With 290 watts of panel and six golf cart batteries, and a little propane powered generation we run a knife and tool business and live comfortably.
We did rid ourselves of some stuff.
The first item we stopped using was a refrigerator. It did take some adjustment but after 5 years without one we're convinced a fridge is a totally decadent piece of equipment for many people. Of course not everyone can stop using one because of their circumstance. A root cellar, pantry and freezer are all one needs. A simple camp cooler goes a long way.
Added insulation on the freezer and a timer reduced the power consumption of this appliance by 1/2. Now we only use the freezer in the winter and keep it outside under cover which cuts its consumption by another 70%.
We eat fresh mostly, from our garden and what we forage, and whatever we are able to dry and can.
We are always expanding our vegetable gerdens. Our meat comes from trade and hunting.
We heat and cook by wood and our hot water is heated through a water jacket in the cook stove which feeds a tank we installed. With the lining off the tank it is like having another heater. A small propane cook stove for back-up uses about $25 in fuel a year.
In Chilcotin territory in B.C. (there is no the, like Yukon territory) there is lots of sun but we do have spells of up to a couple of months without much sun. I installed a big alternator (200 amps) in a propane powered vehicle, machined a drive pulley to increase the rpm so that idling gives what the batteries demand, and it plugs into our small house to the batteries. About twice as efficient as a new Honda generator, quieter and as mentioned, on propane.
If you have the luxury of working at home the
trick to solarpower is to use it when the sun is
out and work around it
when it is not.
In our business we recover all our steel, wood and antler. The highest quality is there but you have to look for it. We do as much by hand as we can (it is a trade off towards surviving in an unfriendly world) and sell through the internet, locally and a few shows.
We used to travel across the countryside to sell. With a connection to the internet by satellite we drive much less and spend maybe $60 a month on gas.
We try to buy only what we need - I suppose the method is to figure out what one truly needs. For us it is a never ending process to be self sufficient and sustainable.