Your Power, Your Choice!

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Solar panels!

Many permaculture garden visitors ask me why I have no solar panels?

My stock answer is that I cannot afford them…but that hides all the other reasons why solar panel are not high on my wish-list of add-ons to Bealtaine Cottage!

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I see the issue in much more simple terms…frugality!

Over the past ten years of developing Bealtaine Cottage, I have successively scaled back on my use of electricity.

From getting rid of many of my original electrical appliances and refusing to replace those that have given up along the way, I have the equivalent of a roof load of solar panels!

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We are a wasteful society that is easily swayed towards consumerism, failing to take responsibility for our waste, when there is NO AWAY…just Mother Earth!

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Studies in America, for example, have shown that 20% of all electricity produced is wasted. (Dr Helen Caldicott)

This is interesting as Nuclear power represents 20% of all the electricity produced!

The correlation between what we waste and our environmental concerns can be very revealing!

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According to statistics produced by the WWF “Power plants typically only turn about 30% of the energy input into usable electricity.
We are losing up to 75 % of the energy in the fuel at the start of the process. Energy companies could do much better – combining power and heat production can lift efficiency to over 70%.”( )

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In a detailed study in 2001, the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that from 3% (Switzerland) to a scarcely credible 13% (Australia) of residential electricity used in OECD countries was standby.

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“I was amazed when I first learned the dimensions of standby power,” said Robert Priddle, IEA executive director. “In my own home, appliances that I thought were ‘off’ were actually consuming considerable power.”

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 You have immense power…the power to choose!

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Your power to consume is there as a choice.

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It is MY DESIRE  to have a wind turbine and solar panels, but it is MY CHOICE to live lightly with Mother Earth. permaculture at 001

Understand power…but more importantly, understand YOUR power!


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  1. I’m looking for the balance in all of this. If not for the internet, I could be quite isolated and alone. I love my quiet time but on occasion love exchanging ideas with others. To have less isolation, I must have electricity. I would prefer a way to create is in a caring manner, not with fossil fuels or coal products or wood other than what needs to be burned anyway. I liked the idea of solar power but there is a drawback to that as well as wind turbines. How can we create the energy with as little footprint as possible. Both solar and wind are still outrageously expensive. I want to be kind to the earth and enjoy my visit. I want to leave it better than I found it if only in my little corner. There is waste everywhere. I create some myself. It makes me sad and I look for ways to eliminate it. You have done a lot of research Thank you for that.

    • For my part, I believe that using less is the way forward. Through using less I have the equivalent of solar panels on my roof and a small wind turbine. The old adage, “less is more” certainly comes into play here! Blessings X

  2. Hi Colette,
    I loved this post. I’m also an American and grow increasingly frustrated by our consumerism and wastefulness. It’s as if everyone has lost their common sense and can no longer see obvious connections. For instance, we have numerous organizations to “fight hunger” but no one looks at how wasteful we are with our food. Most all families, restaurants and grocers throw food away once it’s past its expiration or at the end of the night when closing. Very few of these organizations donate this food to homeless shelters or soup kitchens. As my Dad used to say, we have become a society that thinks Money grows on Trees and that our resources are unlimited.

    I love your response of using less. We did a slightly similar challenge when I went back to school and was only working part-time which caused our budget to be cut in half. It wasn’t intentional but we stopped eating out and couldn’t afford to replace the gazillion gadgets we had once they stopped working. I had no idea how many items I kept plugged in all the time such as a rice steamer, electric can opener, deep fryer, toaster oven, microwave, blender, coffee maker, coffee grinder, electric grill and a crock-pot. And that was just in the kitchen!!

    Now that we see how easy it is to cut back we’re making other smaller changes. We try not to use our AC or furnace until absolutely necessary and using less light. I also used to leave every light on in the house because I felt down if it was dark. Once I realized that going outside as soon as I get up and spending a few minutes in the sun fixed this issue, I rarely leave lights on anymore. When I started leaving our appliances unplugged until needed I was amazed at how infrequently we use most of our electronics. I firmly believe every effort helps decrease our footprint no matter how small. Our goal is to one day be in our own little cottage following in your very light footsteps 🙂

    • We are beginning to retrieve and appreciate our common sense…this leads to real empowerment and flies in the face of corporate megalomania…we will sort this mess out one by one…putting real change into our own heads! Power to you and yours and many blessings XXX Colette at Bealtaine Cottage

  3. Interesting information. I love living lightly. I reserve lights to the room I am in and don’t switch them on until it’s really necessary. I love the twilight time and electric lights diminish the feeling of daily rhythm as daylight fades. For all human history, we have observed that rhythm. A day has a cycle in the same way as a year does.

  4. I agree it is better to reduce energy consumption. When an item does need replacing, better to buy a less energy hungry device than a bigger hungrier one, if indeed the device is actually needed in the first place.

    Surely, a lot of energy is needed to produce solar panels as well?!

  5. Yep. We did the math, too, and found that after taking a few steps to reduce our energy use, it would take us decades past the expected life of the panels for them to begin paying for themselves. Meanwhile, we’d be continuing to wear out electronics and other equipment through our increased energy use, adding to our environmental burden and resource depletion. There MAY come a time when the technology brings us to the “solar parity” line where solar would pay for itself, Until then, buying solar panels would only be wasting rare earths and other materials that could be used for better solar panels in the future, when it actually makes sense! Such “green consumer” choices often are just more wasteful “conspicuous consumption” spending money to try to buy identity…

  6. Ah.. the joy of Nasturtium plants in the garden.. I saved my seeds from last year, but my plants have black aphid sized pests on them now, which they didn’t have last year,

  7. I totally agree, Colette. When we built our house we were told that was best time to put up solar panels if we wanted them. We worked out the costs & found it just did not make economic sense. The panels would have cost us the equivalent of 22yrs of avg American single-family home power usage. 🙁 We opted to pay slightly more instead for foam insulation & signed on to the On-Call Program where we allowed power switch-off for short periods by FL Power (in case of high power demand like summer afternoons) & they installed devices to have only our fridge & cooker usable when that happens. Todate, our highest bill is $70 & avg is $40, shocking to our neighbors. Yes, like you, we chose.
    Thank you for this post. I’m glad we did what you did.

    • That’s an interesting system! When we compare our usage to say that of the previous generation then we are extravagant and wasteful. Saving money sounds like common sense and the way forward!
      Blessings X

  8. I LOVE this post! Being an American, I have seen first hand all my life, the prevailing notion that EVERYTHING we do must involve much consuming! Even so called “green” people would not have thought to consume less, as you do. First thought would be get the solar panels so we can continue with our lifestyle! We, as a society, tend to do this in all aspects of our lives. For example, drugs. Most people take prescription drugs on a regular basis for everything from cholesterol to depression. And those who pride themselves on NOT doing that often take as many if not MORE vitamins and other pills and potions that promise energy, health and beauty. I like this concept of looking for ways to consume less as opposed to ADDIG more!

Your comments are welcome!