New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grow Your Own Loofa (Luffa) for Sponges

Yep, you don't have to do without or purchase sponges if you grow your own.

Please don't confuse Loofa with Sea sponges, which are part of the animal kingdom and grow on the sea floor.

Loofa's are part of the cucurbit family, a group of plants including gourds, pumpkins, and cucumbers. So you will not want to grow these near any of those plants to avoid cross pollination.

These plants originated in subtropical Asia. But like most plants if you provide the right conditions they can be grown just about anywhere. LuffaInfo has been growing and enjoying loofa fiber since the mid 1990s in Carter County Tennessee.

I have started two of these plants on my back porch and will see how this goes.

See the following sites for great information, how to grow, harvest and save seeds, etc. Tons of history, pictures and how to Great How to

To download a document to get you started the above links are condensed in "Grow Your Own Loofa (Luffa) for Sponges" at

"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden."-- Thomas Jefferson

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading Prepper

Friday, March 26, 2010

Are Preppers Crazy or is it Crazy Not to Prep?

This is an excellent post "Are Preppers Crazy or is it Crazy Not to Prep?" by TheSurvivalMom at APN. It is to the point and very true. Enjoy ;-}

“Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival.”
W. Edwards Deming

I've said this before in other "letters" but this bears repeating as this relates to SurvivalMom's post ....

What is a Prepper?

Ask people what a “Prepper” is and for every person you ask, you will get a different answer. However there are some key characteristics that will apply. Top of this list is Independence and Self-Reliance.

Independence is being able to take care of yourself with the least amount of involvement from others. Self-Reliance is knowing you can do what needs to be done or make what you need with the least amount of help from others and at the least amount of cost. Both characteristics require you to handle any situation with what you have, rather than hiring or purchasing what you need.

So to me becoming a Prepper requires independence and self-reliance in all areas of our lives including finances, utilities, food, clothing, health, devices and furniture to name a few key areas. If you want to be a Homesteader you will need to be this way continuously in your day to day life. To be a Prepper, some of these areas will require day to day independence, self-reliance, preparation and diligence while others you need only worry about for shorter periods of emergent times.

To me a Prepper, specifically is a person who considers what can happen: while at home, on the way to work, vacation (air, land or sea), from nature, from bad luck and clumsiness, spiritual, to human caused. Kind of like an adult Boy Scout – Always prepared for anything, anywhere. A Prepper will have a contingency plan to account for the best way to not only avoid such a situation in the first place (whenever possible), but also how to live through such an event and continue to prosper and be happy and content with life.

There are various levels of Preppers and at the highest level you reach Survivalists.

Survivalists also have various levels to them. The most common perception being; the extreme Survivalist who lives in the boonies and off the land in a very “times of yore” way. Yet, you also have wilderness guides who know all kinds of skills in case the worst happens - Another type of survivalist. Military personnel are taught how to make it through being separated from the rest of their team or troupe; How to survive the worst that can happen in a war situation. Again, another type of Survivalist.

If you really stop and think about it, most people are Preppers, at least in some small way. How so? Most of us have insurance for our health, home, vehicles and major “toys” and possessions. Insurance is in case the worst happens is it not? Ha – a Prepper. Many country and northern folk have alternative energy and food stores because winter storms often take out electricity, phone service and the ability to travel safely for days and even weeks. Again – Preppers. If you have a first aid kit in your home, boat, auto or RV you are preparing for the chance you might need it. A Prepper. If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, avalanches, mud slides or floods you no doubt have some kind of plan to get you through each occurrence. Another type of Prepper.

I have long been a hiker and backpacker. I love the outdoors and nature. I love the idea of being self-reliant and have been researching, learning and planning for moving to a rural area with a small, as self-reliant as possible homestead. I want to be independent from as many utilities and outside entities as possible; for my food, energy, health, water, sanitation and all the rest of my basics needs. A homesteader, a small farmer/rancher, a country/rural person – A Prepper.

Even governments worldwide have various programs and agencies to address “disasters” and “emergencies”. Take a look at the FEMA and Homeland Security “Be Prepared” and “Are You Ready” websites. The Church of Latter Day Saints has long been “prepping” for disasters and emergencies that they feel precede the Second Coming of Christ.

Bottom line is that in some small way we are all Preppers consisting of all ages, all nationalities, all faiths, and all races, rich and poor, in urban, suburban and rural areas. We are the adult Boy Scouts – Always Prepared for whatever twists and turns life throws at us from any source.

I also know that in all my years of prepping and planning for homesteading (since the 1970’s); I have never before seen such a proliferation of information and groups on the subject like I have in the last 5-8 years. Something must be up to make people worldwide feel this need.

One thing is for sure – In a disaster or wide spread emergency - You CANNOT count on any government or emergency agency to come to your rescue in a timely fashion. The only things you can count on are yourself (physical, emotional & spiritual), your knowledge and skills and the supplies and tools you have on hand.

“To be prepared is to anticipate risk and to prudently act toward prevention.”
Wes Fessler

Why Prepare?

Periodically throughout human history there are stories of apocalypse, Armageddon, destruction, turmoil, tribulation and the end of the world as we know it prophecies and predictions. These predictions increase in the eras where the indicators of these events appear to occur in rapid succession and or escalating frequency. This is a normal human trait or emotion to bad times. As our civilizations mature and develop more precise sciences, these predictions gather more validity. This validity raises flags of concern and caution in just about anyone with a lick of common sense.

What makes today any different than yesterday and previous generations? I’m not an expert and can only guess that it has something to do with what the people of today’s generation have seen in their lifetimes. Anyone older than 70 probably lived through part of the Great Depression. They at least saw WWII and Korean wars. Then anyone over 50 has seen science fiction become reality.

Think about it, my grandparents, whom passed in the 1980’s saw the telegraph, telephone, radio, TV, movies, in house plumbing/heating/cooling, electricity, refrigerators instead of ice boxes, the atomic bomb, automobiles, WWI, WWII, Korean War, flu epidemics, polio, measles and chicken pox epidemics (that killed back then), Great Depression, Dust Bowl, computers, airplanes and space flight to name a few.

My parents were children during the Dust Bowl and Depression years but they saw jet airplanes, microwaves, computers, cell phones, GPS, TV dinners, the birth of suburbs, SS, welfare, income taxes, inflation, landing on the moon, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall and lived through the Cold War, as well as many of the same things their parents, my grandparents saw.

I look back on what my generation has seen from the rapid development and deployment of computers, graphics, cell phones (I remember those big military type ones), calculators (the first el-cheapo was $100), I remember A-bomb drills in elementary school, the first 8086 PC and a thing called a “portable computer” that was as clunky and heavy as a portable sewing machine of the day. I grew up on Star Trek and now quite a bit of the science fiction of that show is reality.

Add to this the natural secretive nature of governments, militaries; the instantaneousness of communications and travel and the nature of humans to seek and possess power.

Next add that today we are at far greater risk of a nuclear holocaust than at any time during the cold war. This is because the world powers of the Cold War knew what kind of hell would result. Sure they postulated and slung threats back and forth, but neither great power wanted any part of a nuclear war. Today however we do not have seasoned leaders that know and care about this, instead we see rich mini-countries or rich large cause oriented organizations with the nuclear power and they don’t care what happens as long as they can throw their “power” around.

Many of the developed “western world” countries like the United States face other issues that could undermine our civilizations. Like the physical age of the physical components of the electrical GRID, bridges and dams. Many urban water, storm and waste systems are old and already at capacity. Water reservoirs are at capacity and many are seeing lower water levels. Aquifers are drying up.

We don’t have enough fertile farm land to grow enough crops to feed the world population and that population is growing every day.

For decades, humans have collectively abused the chemicals that we discovered resulting in an “unhealthily” environment as well as “super bugs” and other ailments. Other life forms, like insects, are developing immunities to our chemicals resulting in crop and disease “plagues”.

Modern science now knows more about plate tectonics and has found thousands more very dangerous faults that are in major population and business areas around the globe.

Think about it: What would you do right now, this instant if the electricity goes out and stays out for the next 7 days? Where are you most likely to be? Where are the water, heat, cooling, and food? Are these items reliant on electricity? Will these items stay fresh and viable for 7 days without electricity? Can you even get to and or use them without electricity?

I don’t know a single person who wants to see or be involved in a disaster or emergency. Even the fire, rescue and safety people I know hope and pray they are never called upon. Historically, rarely a generation goes by that has not survived some kind of emergency or disaster, be it large or small. In fact, statistically, most of us will experience some sort of emergency or disaster, sometime in our lifetimes.

As the world population spirals towards forgetting how to live on what we have, and instead lives on credit to get what we want and we all become “commercial driven” to use and toss, many of us have started to “sense” the self-destructive nature of our ways. We collectively start to fear the unknown and that leads us to prepare for the worst case scenario our minds can conger up. We logically know that if we survive and how well we survive depends on how prepared we and those around us are.

This is why it is wise to prepare for whatever obstacles life throws our way. NO - SurvuvalMom, Preppers are not crazy it truly is crazy not to prepare!

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin

Play the “What If” game. Be sure to think about what would be available and not available if each “What If” occurred. How long would it take for your area to recover? Where would you be? What would you be doing? Is your home safe and secure for each of these incidents? Would this incident have an effect on other parts of the country and what would they be? What would your neighbors and friends do? If you live rural, how easy is it for urban people to get to where you are even if they walked?


  • The electricity goes down for 7 days starting tomorrow at 5am?
  • A hurricane, tornado, flood or 7.8 earthquake hits tomorrow at 3PM?
  • Plastic disappears and humans cannot make more tomorrow at 12 noon?
  • Mexico enters a civil war and refugees start flooding our boarders tomorrow at 6PM?
  • The State comes by and puts meters on your private domestic water well tomorrow morning at 7AM?
  • The prisons run out of money and release all of their prisoners tomorrow at 1PM?
  • The sun has a huge, never before recorded solar storm and it wipes out microwaves, radio waves, TV/Satellite transmissions and electricity worldwide tomorrow at 1AM?
  • A large, but not extinction level event, sized asteroid hits the Pacific Ocean at 3AM tomorrow morning?
  • Starting tomorrow at 10AM; There is a very large, gang in the streets setting fires and spreading destruction in a major city near you, civil upheaval is spreading with each passing hour?
  • This spring an unprecedented rain storm saturates the Snake, Columbia, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio and Mississippi River basins, with floods that cover most of our bread basket states and farms?
  • A fanatical faction sets off nuclear explosions in one or more major cities here in the U.S. and or world tomorrow at 8PM?
  • There is some kind of explosion or attack at one or more oil refineries, storage facilities or power plants, here in the U.S. tomorrow at 12 midnight?
Prep On !!

Today is the Tomorrow that you worried about Yesterday

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}

Monday, March 22, 2010

ACT or REACT - The Need for Disaster Drills

“Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival.” W. Edwards Deming

I have a very dear friend and her husband who are retired military and are newbie Preppers. She is an avid home soap maker and she was going to teach me a recipe for olive oil soap and look at what I had on preparedness and homesteading. As she was looking over the information I have and deciding what she wanted copies of she made a comment that “Well I don’t need this on generator repair or biodiesel or that on sanitation since I was in the military as a nurse and we drilled for disaster preparedness all the time. So did my husband’s unit.”

So I asked her “Ok, what would you do if tomorrow we were in a disaster and your generator stopped working? Where is the military unit you were stationed with at the time now? What supplies do you have on hand to replicate what the military had on hand for your drills? Do you or your husband know how to fix generator when you can’t get to the store to purchase the replacement part or on the internet for how-to information? With the GRID and your generator down how will you pump water from your well or flush the toilet? There is no unit of support staff to dig a latrine for you. If this is a long term outage, how much fuel for your generator do you have, even if you could fix it? You like to make soap, how will you get lye to make soap with this disaster situation?”

She looked at me kinda dumbfounded and requested to see my list of documents again. So as we reviewed the list we started to play the “What If” game and went through about 12 scenarios that are quite possible for our area. Then we ended up burning a CD with all of my documents on it.

This is a lesson to all of us who feel we are already prepared and just need to maintain or tweak a thing here or there. I have been “Prepping” since the 70’s and I am still learning and still preparing. I cannot stress enough that no matter what your skills and experiences are, there is bound to be a multitude of things out there (big or small) that if a disaster hit you in the next hour, you would be doing without something that you have not accounted for. Even Ragnar Benson in his books stresses that he is always learning.

“Preparedness is not just about stockpiling, it's about having an actual plan.” Mike Ryan

To have a good chance of success you must plan, practice and prepare on a regular basis. Just like home, school and office fire drills – practice makes perfect and repetition is the foundation to learning.

List and prioritize the possible disaster scenarios for your area. Then each month pick a scenario and a family day to have a practice drill on what to do, where to go based on your preparedness plan for each scenario.

As you and your family get better at your drills, add some complexity (which will help eliminate the boredom of the drill) and have some where you must evacuate to an emergency shelter somewhere, others where you shelter-in-place and some where you must bug-out to some other personal designated shelter or retreat.

I know of a family that once a year practice an actual emergency bug out to a favorite wilderness camping place where they have 1 hour to collect everything they want and need and only a half a tank of gas for their vehicle. They then stay a long weekend at this special place. They even take different routes each year to get to the same general area and last year they practiced “ditching” the vehicle a couple of miles from their retreat site and hiked in.

When they get home they discuss what they forgot or brought that they didn’t need; how long it took them to reach this safe area; what would they do if they couldn’t get there in the usual driving time; what did they have trouble with and stuff like that. Then for their actual week or two week long vacation they usually go to some sort of “Living Colonial” camp and learn something new to add to their skills and experiences. Needless to say this family, if ever in the throes of a disaster, is ready to act and do rather than react and panic.

Practice enough and should disaster strike, you will ACT out of habit and not REACT out of surprise or panic. You don’t have go out in the woods in the middle of the winter, but you do have to have drills or practice sessions where you and your family act out a What-If scenario.

"What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens." Benjamin Disraeli

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}

It's Official - We are now a Dictatorship!!

Well this obese government of ours has taken this weekend to teach us a lesson:

Don't listen to what they say; Watch what they do!

We are now officially being led by a Dictatorial Government bent on telling us how we should feel, what we should eat and do and how we should live our lives. It DICTATES instead of REPRESENTS!

If you haven't been Prepping, you had better start now because no bleeding heart government using the phrase "redistributing wealth" and "caring for the 15% of people without health insurance" is going to be able to accomplish anything except Redistributing Poverty at the cost of the shirt off YOUR back!

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have." Thomas Jefferson

“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Prep On - It's Now or Never

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Few of My Fav Links

I'm a little lazy so I didn't actually "link" all of these links. Just copy and paste into your browser to get to any of these babies ...

Prep On ;-}

To see info I have shared on "prepping", Self reliance, homesteading, preparedness, survival, etc you can try the following sites: NM Urban Homesteader My blog (yeah, yeah you are here)

Shared documents on Google:

Shared documents on Scribd: look for TNTCrazyLady which will then list what I have uploaded or try:

My Fav's: American Prepper Network National site for Preparedness National Amateur Radio (HAM) Association - common sense preparedness approach based out of west TX - more common sense preparedness for NM - there are some extremists here, most are just preppers, but there is much great downloadable information.

SurvivalMonkey.COM Blue Wolf great site

Other good "prepper" or homesteading or self-reliance or survival sites are:

Practical Action - FAST great how to stuff that they use in 3rd world countries.

AusSurvialist.COM for those of you down under or if you live in the arid US much of their info will apply

cd3wd.COM great info on all kinds of stuff - again geared to 3rd world countries

Survival Digest & SnardFarker Blog





accem.ORG great stuff for pets, horses and other livestock preparedness

albc-usaORG for historical severe weather information

Alderleaf Wilderness College

amsca.COM preparedness, fuel storage info, etc great place to find downloadable old books on camping, farming, canning, scouts, fortifications, first aid, medicine, etc

Beehive (website from about 10 years ago don't know if it is still around or if its .com or .org or what) nothing beats this site for food storage FAQs




desertrestore.ORG all kinds of dryland information livestock, farming, water, etc







Gardening-Self Reliance Exchange.COM



green-trust.ORG organic gardening, alternative power search, find, download just about anything

Gutenberg.ORG another great source of old historical books with tons of info like: Survival Tactics by Al Sevcik

hollowtop.COM great learning site for old time skills, how to make a bow and much more


homesteadingwithozarkguy.COM good stuff great site

------------------- Recap of all of my sources from time to time over the last several decades -------------

Mother Earth News
/GUI97/Med Errors
"21st Centruy Homesteading"
45th Weather Squadran
AGIS Assist Guide Information Services
AIGS Assist Guide Information Services
Alderleaf Wilderness College
American Civil Defense Association
American College of Physicians
American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Information
American Red Cross!"
American Veterinary Medical Association
Beehive (website from about 10 years ago)
Center for Disaster Epidemiology & Emergency Preparedness (DEEP Center)
Miami Center for Public Health Preparedness (Miami CPHP)
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miami, Florida"
Center for Essential Education"
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"
Civil Unrest Are You Prepared?

Civil Unrest Preparation"
CNI & Blue Wolf
Cold Climate Gardening COM
Dept. of Defense, Defense Civil Preparedness Agency
Dept. of Health and Human Services
Dept. of Natural Resources Michigan
DERA International
Forest and Wildlife Research Center
Gardening-Self Reliance ExchangeCOM
Homeland Security / ASPCA / Humane Society / American Kennel Club
Homeland Security / Blue Wolf
Homeland Security News
Homeland Security/FEMA
hoodriverswcdORG and" and
Israeli Civilian Preparedness
Joint Commission on Accredation of Healthcare Organizations
"Joseph Parish"
LDS ProvidentLiving.ORG
LDSAVOW Church of Latter Day Saints Preparedness url - resources
LDSCN Prep List - Church of Latter Day Saints
Maple Syrup-MapleKitsCOM
Mississippi State University Dept of Forestry Extension
NASDA National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
NFPA - National Fire Protection Association
Pets Unlimited
"Practical Action - FAST"
Published by former DCPA Defense Civil Preparedness Agency and now Homeland Security/FEMA
Self Reliance Adventures
"SnardFarker Blog
Survival Digest"
Squanto's Garden
strongtieCOM via accurateshooteerNET
"Survival Digest
SnardFarker Blog"
"Survival Digest
SnardFarker Blog"
Survivalists / Survival Network
Survive In Place
The Victoreen Instrument Co.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Welcome to the City of Snoqualmie Washington
WHO World Health Organization & Medical Letter, Inc.
“The first of earthly blessings, independence.“
Edward Gibbon

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Springtime and Gardening – Terms and Concerns

"Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow."

Ah spring time; that time of promise and hope after a long winter chill. Seeds are the foundation of all gardening, they contain everything needed within their tiny shells to create beautiful and sustaining growth.

My garden will be much smaller this year as most of my time is being diverted to getting my house on the market. But I still have the “bug” so I will comment on some meanings, definitions and concerns for those of you that are interested.

"So many seeds -- so little time."

Heirloom or Heritage Seed

Heirloom or Heritage Seed is a type of non-hybrid seed. The terms heirloom or heritage do not have a legal definition nor is there general agreement on the use of the terms when describing seeds or plants. Generally these seed varieties are considered as having been grown prior to WWII or 1950. It often indicates that the seed has been valued by a family, tenderly and carefully preserved, and handed along from generation to generation. The variety of seed has had a long history, rather than being a newer development in the commercial seed industry.

All heirlooms are open pollinated (OP) and non-hybrid, but not all OPs are heirlooms. Some gardeners insist that to qualify as an heirloom, a cultivar must be at least 100 years old. Others say 50 years, some say 25. There is no agreement on the period of time an heirloom must have existed to qualify for the name.

Heirloom Cultivars

Everyone agrees that all heirloom cultivars are, by definition, open pollinated. That means heirloom seeds will produce plants that are identical to the parent plants. Traditionally, what is called an heirloom is a cultivar that has been handed down through many generations, often within one family or in a relatively small geographic area.

Introduction of Hybrids

Hybrids came about around 1951. Hybrids were first introduced by the seed trade on a large scale to home gardeners in the 1950’s but did not catch on commercially in agriculture until the 1970s.

In the past, no reputable seed producer would ever release a new variety in an unstable state. It would be bred and selected for years until it would come true-to-type from saved seed. However, starting around WW II, the definition of the term has changed in its implication and application. Most seed companies are now motivated by profit and so they intentionally release unstable, hybrids whose exact parentage are guarded trade secrets. Since these seeds are not suitable for saving, the farmer or gardener must buy new seeds each season.


Hybrid seeds are the first generation offspring of two distant and distinct parental lines of the same species. Hybrid seed is also known as "high response" seed. These seeds require fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and lots of water to achieve their high yields. Seeds taken from a hybrid may either be sterile or more commonly fail to breed “true”.

Seeds saved from a hybrid plant will not grow "true” in that the plants will not be the same as the parent plant. Instead, they may resemble either one of the hybrid plant's parents, or an even earlier trait.

Since these seeds do not produce “like” plants or may be sterile they are NOT good seed savers. They also need to be purchased each season to produce the desired plant and therefore should be avoided by the self-sustaining gardener.

Open Pollinated

All heirlooms are open pollinated (OP), but not all OPs are heirlooms. Non- Hybrid seed is often known as “open pollinated” or OP. Many excellent open pollinated cultivars have been created since the 1950s, but they are not generally considered to be heirlooms. Once a cultivar is stable meaning it breeds "true", it can be called an open pollinated cultivar.

Open-pollinated varieties are the traditional varieties that have been grown and selected for their desirable traits for millennia. They grow well without high inputs because they have been selected under organic or natural conditions.

These varieties are also considered to have better flavor, hardier and have more flexibility than hybrid varieties. Again this has not been scientifically proven. Breeders cannot manipulate complex characteristics such as flavor as easily as they can size and shape. These seeds are dynamic, they mutate and adapt to the local ecosystem, as opposed to modern hybrids, which are static.

Commercial breeders currently lack the incentive to produce new open pollinated varieties from which farmers could save seed and replant.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. This process provides a class of legal ownership protection, often allowing corporations to own the DNA of specific organisms. Most GMO seeds have the same “seed saving” issues as hybrids, in that their offspring do not seem to carry the complete DNA of the parents or if they do they also start to magnify the “recessive” or weak genes of the parent. So to be guaranteed a crop of the parents, one must currently purchase new seeds each year. There is some research to create “self sustaining” GMO seeds but the controlling manufacturer and owners of these seeds are fighting that.

Certified Organic

Certified Organic refers to products grown under guidelines as mandated by a third party certification organization. To become certified, growers and processors must keep very detailed records, adhere to the standards, have soil and facilities tested, keep copious records, and pay certification fees.

Organically Grown

Many small growers are ethical and sustainable gardeners but either cannot afford the fees associated with the USDA's certification process or take issues with the standards. Some believe that the term “organic” when used as a marketing strategy is not strict enough. The best way to decide what terms mean is to talk with your producers, and go visit their gardens or farms.

Saving Seeds

The gardener interested in saving their own seeds to use next year should always choose open pollinated seeds and plants and there are many seed catalogs that specialize in open pollinated varieties. If you're growing two varieties of the same kind of plant, grow them far apart from each other so that they won't cross pollinate each other and the seed will stay true.

Permaculture - Originally started in Australia, its a term that means much like being self sustainable and organic and green wise all in one. Permaculture can best be described as a moral and ethical design system applicable to food production and land use, as well as community building. It seeks the creation of productive and sustainable ways of living by integrating ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture and agro-forestry.

Self Sustainable - Means you or your farm are able to sustain itself without outside needs. Being able to grow your own crops and produce on your farm and sell them to make enough money to pay for themselves would help you be more self sustainable. Saving seed, having animals that create manure for fertilizer, growing enough for yourself and enough to feed your animals; these are also ways of being self sustainable.

Composting - Recycling organic matter such as manure, newspaper, cardboard, leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps and more. Allowing microbes and bacteria to break it down into its simplest form turning it all into rich organic matter that you can use to mulch and fertilize your crops and plants with.

Vermicomposting - Composting with worms allowing the worms to eat the compost and creating worm poop called castings.

Eco- Friendly - Much like the Green Wise it means something or someone that is good for the environment. Aluminum Cans are Eco Friendly because they can be recycled over and over again.

Green Wise - Means someone or something that is good for the environment. You could say that compact florescent bulbs are green wise (until you consider the mercury).

Green Washing – This means that something is promoted as “green” or “eco-friendly” or environmentally safe when in fact it is not. A perfect example of this is Granite for countertops and floors. The carbon footprint to harvest granite is as high (in some cases higher) as harvesting coal via strip mining. On top of that the granite industry does not need to “reclaim” the quarry for future public use, unlike coal mines or landfills. These quarries become polluted with the minerals and metals that dissolve in the water that collects in them. Thus granite is a green washing product and not green at all.

Green Energy - Energy that comes from non polluting sources such as Solar Panels, Hydroelectric, geo-thermal or Wind power from Windmills. I personally prefer the term Renewable Energy as you can get it as long as the rivers flow, the sun rises, the earth vents its heat and the wind blows.

Agro-Forestry - Agriculture and Forestry mixed together. Any of the fruit or nut bearing trees can produce food crops available to people. Also growing crops in a forest like setting where the trees are grown in rows and the crops grown between the rows of trees are another form of agro-forestry.

Aquaculture is the cultivation of the natural produce of water (such as fish or shellfish, algae and other aquatic organisms). The term is distinguished from fishing by the idea of active human effort in maintaining or increasing the species involved, as opposed to simply taking them from the wild. Subsets of aquaculture include Mariculture (aquaculture in the ocean); Algaculture (the production of kelp/seaweed and other algae); Fish Farming (the raising of catfish and tilapia in freshwater ponds or salmon in marine ponds); and the growing of cultured pearls.

Hydroponics is crop production with mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil containing silt and clay. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel or rockwool. A variety of techniques exist.

Aquaponics is the integration of aquaculture and hydroponics. An aquaculture is used to continuously generate a nutrient-rich solution to feed a hydroponic garden. Aquaponic systems can be used to replicate controlled wetland conditions that are useful for reclaiming potable water from typical household sewage, in addition to generating a continual supply of food with minimal fertilizer use. Aquaponics takes advantage of synergy between self-organizing biological systems, emphasizing the one element/many functions principle of permaculture. This synergy benefits both systems and allows each to help maintain the other. For example, an aquaponic system consisting of goldfish and watercress would require less human intervention into each system. The goldfish would benefit from the filtration carried out by the watercress, and the watercress would benefit from the nutrient-rich waste excreted by the goldfish.

"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden."-- Thomas Jefferson

Notes and Concerns:

Seeds are incredibly complex and a contentious resource within the global food community. Today we seem to be fighting to retain biodiversity and our autonomy as food producers and cultivators from the large, international corporations and governmental influences and regulations.

There is no question that open- pollinated heritage and heirloom seeds help to insure worldwide plant diversity. How much so is what is under debate.

The fact remains that plant diversity and food crop genetics are the cornerstone of worldwide food security. Today this issue has become more important than ever.

The reality of limited plant genetics is one of the reasons for the Svalbard Global Seed Bank and has become fodder for a modern day apocalyptic global famine scenario. The Svalbard Seed Bank is also known, as the Dooms Day Vault. It is a well-guarded fortress located 810 miles from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. The seed vault houses seeds from every continent. My big concern here is that the DuPont Corporation, Monsanto Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank are among those who help manage the trust fund for this seed bank.

GMO's - I personally hate them and feel they are not only a rip off, but a danger to humans and nature. I had a hard time when I was researching GMO's to find non biased information. In fact the only sites I found were:; and

It took 3 to 6 results pages from a Google search on "GMO seeds" to get a solely "pro" set of information. To me that says alot!

Some other articles of interest on this subject are:

** Must Read ** Genetically Modified Ingredients Overview Which contains an important summary of what crops, foods and food ingredients have been genetically modified as of July, 2007.
** Must Read ** Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?
** Must Read ** The Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Seeds
** Must Read ** What is called "biotechnology" is a vital issue that impacts all of us - GMO It goes on to list the 50 Harmful Effects of GM Foods.
Does planting GMO seed boost farmers' profits?
GMO Seeds: 'MNCs Gaining Total Control Over Farming'
Genetically Modified Seeds ‘Are Everywhere’ and
Monsanto, the FDA, and genetically modified seeds
Millions Against Monsanto Campaign - Monsanto's Global Corporate Terrorism
USDA Makes a Deal with Monsanto - Hey Farmers! Buy Genetically Modified Seeds, Get Insurance Cheap
Do Seed Companies Control -Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. That restriction must end GM Crop Research?
Why Genetically Modified, Drought-Resistant Seeds Are a Waste of Time and Money
Seeds of Deception - Exposing Industry and Government Deception About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating
Can GMO seeds be ‘sustainable’?
Monsanto buys ‘Terminator’ Seeds Company
Monsanto and Its GMO Seeds Under DOJ Scrutiny
Monsanto GMO Ignites Big Seed War
GMO Seeds Benefit Environment found on page 3 of the Google search results pages
GMO Seeds Benefit Environment found on page 8 of the Google search results pages

Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden. ~Robert Brault

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}

New York Times: States’ Rights Is Rallying Cry of Resistance for Lawmakers

States’ Rights Is Rallying Cry of Resistance for Lawmakers

By KIRK JOHNSON Published: March 16, 2010

"Whether it’s a correctly called a movement, a backlash or political theater, state declarations of their rights — or in some cases denunciations of federal authority, amounting to the same thing — are on a roll...."

See for details

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What is heading our way?

If you are a Prepper, survivalist, self reliance seeker, farmstead, ranchstead or homestead, rural or country person then you have undoubtedly asked yourself “just what kind of emergency could happen to me?”. Then you have probably gone about preparing in case the worst happens and in safeguarding you and yours to avoid as many possibilities as possible.

We have all kinds of things that can happen, but they generally fall into one of the following categories:
  • Natural – Floods, Tornados, Hurricanes, Mud Slide, Avalanche, Drought, Severe Winter Storm, Pandemic (natural), Tsunami, Extraterrestrial (sunspots, asteroid, comet), Earthquake, Volcano and the like
  • Man-Made – Economical, Social, Ecological, Environmental, Bio-toxin, Pandemic (can be natural or human induced), Nuclear, Civil Unrest, War, Riot, EMP(electromagnetic pulse), Terrorism, Blackouts , Lack of Energy, Water or Food (Yes this can occur due to nature too, but are often human induced), Toxic Spill and the like
  • Bad Luck – Accidents, Getting Lost, General Clumsiness, Disease, Illness, Injury and the like
  • Spiritual – Armageddon, Rapture, Revelation, Mayan Calendar, Nostradamus and like prophecies
What scares me the most is what humankind can do to influence the occurrence and or scale of any disaster that can occur.

  • The nature of humans to seek and possess power – at any cost
  • The natural secretive nature of governments and militaries
  • The controlling mentality and related power of governments
  • The speed with which governments are going broke (yet still spending like they are not)
  • The instantaneousness of communications and travel
  • Rich mini-countries, individuals or large cause oriented organizations with the nuclear power
  • The physical age of the physical components of the electrical GRID
  • The physical age of the physical components of the Water, Storm & Sanitation infrastructures
  • The physical age and condition of bridges, roads, railways and dams
  • The quality and quantity of fresh, clean water and their related systems
  • The loss of productive and fertile farmland
  • The loss of productive crops (IE edible plant species are disappearing)
  • The addiction and lust for mega bucks, mega profits, mega quickly
  • A growing world population
  • Science’s discoveries of new and deadly earthquake faults in, around, near and under major population or economic and environmental centers/geographical areas (power plants, refineries, chemical plants, etc)
  • Humans “use and toss” mentality
  • Human’s use of chemicals to “speed” things up and make things “right”
  • Human’s recklessness in the use of chemicals, medications, antibiotics and the like is creating new and more deadly diseases, plagues and environmental disasters.
  • Mankind’s inhumanity to mankind
  • Nature’s wrath and the way we humans seem to forget we do not control it in any way shape or form so we build on earthquake faults, build right up to the shores of seas and rivers, on the edges of hills and mountains and then wonder why we have disasters.
  • Humankind’s attitude that it can control our planet and everything upon it

All of the above is happening worldwide. Now add some mostly U.S. issues to this volatile mix:

  • The blatant corruption of the Constitution
  • The blatant corruption of the U.S. government from local to federal
  • The speed with which the U.S. government is growing and is so obese that it is on the verge of a stroke – IE hyperinflation and collapse
  • A bleeding heart judicial system
  • The “give me” and “you owe me” mentality coupled with the “just tell me what to do” mentality IE decline of personal responsibility and duty
  • Illegal immigration
  • Genetically altered food
  • Corporate ownership of produce and livestock farms and ranches
  • Government control of the major necessities of life: food, water, power, shelter, clothing
  • Increasing government control of fire, rescue, safety and law enforcement
  • Increasing control of government over free-enterprise
  • Media corruption and control by the government
  • Civil unrest and the growing threat of martial law and or government dictatorial takeover
  • The “all or nothing” or “far left or far right” mentality of the average U.S. Citizen with its corresponding loss of inventiveness, ingenuity and compatibility IE: The collapse of U.S. civilization

Yep I am a Prepper are you?

Today is the Tomorrow that you worried about Yesterday

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Energy Usage Estimation

With today’s economy everyone wants to save energy and ultimately energy costs, especially if you are on-the-grid. If you plan to go off-the-grid, this is vital information to collect for the planning and budgeting phases of selecting your off-grid systems.

You will need to know just what kind of electrical energy usage you want to have, would like to have and can’t do without. To do this you need to know what the electrical usage is to all of your everyday appliances, devices and products. You also need to know what, if any, standby or Vampire power usage is associated to each item and compare that to what electrical energy you will have available or can afford.

Math has never been my forte and I prefer the simple, “just give me a chart” or table style of things. But I do have times when I just want to know all the nitty-gritty of something and I know some professionals that won’t read anything that isn’t detailed or somewhat technical. This document will contain a little of both. To all you professionals out there, please note that I am NOT an electrician or professional so my “technical stuff” will be from a lay person’s viewpoint.

There are all kinds of items and appliances that utilize some form of energy, from computers to refrigerators and freezers to our vehicles, heating and cooling units, to our stoves, radios and lights and power tools. Whatever you will be using as your energy sources (yes plural, always have more than one for at least some items), this should help you determine your current usage and provide a few tips to help you save on energy use without sacrificing too, too much.

The Mathematical formula for Appliance and Electrical Device Usage Estimates:

(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption

(1 kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts)

Multiply this by the number of days you use the appliance during the year for the annual consumption. You can then calculate the annual cost to run an appliance by multiplying the kWh per year by your local utility's rate per kWh consumed. Provided your existing electrical provider is not changing their rates every other month.

Note: To estimate the number of hours that a refrigerator actually operates at its maximum wattage, divide the total time the refrigerator is plugged in by three. Refrigerators, although turned "on" all the time, actually cycle on and off (i.e.: the compressor goes on and off) as needed to maintain interior temperatures.

You can get the wattage of a product by looking at the label of the product in question. Nearly everything you can plug into the wall has a label that says how much electricity it uses. (It may be printed directly into the plastic or metal.) You may have to hunt for the label. It's often located on the bottom or side of the device, or possibly where the power cord enters the unit. If the device is powered with an AC/DC adapter, the electrical rating is usually listed on the adapter itself.

If the label only gives the number of amps and not the number of watts, then just multiply the amps by 120 to get the number of watts. (Amps x Volts = Watts, and most U.S. electricity is 120 volts. So a hot plate that uses 6 amps uses 6 x 120 = 720 watts. (Most other countries use 240 volts instead of 120, so outside of North America and Japan use 240 instead of 120 in your calculations.)

If a device is powered by a transformer (one of those great big boxy plugs), then the transformer has converted the electricity from AC to DC, so you need to multiply by the DC voltage, not the AC voltage of 120. For example, if the device says "INPUT 9V, 0.5A", then that's 9 volts x 0.5 amps = 4.5 watts.

Some appliances may be labeled 110, 115, or 120 volts. Appliances are actually designed to accept a range of voltages, between 110-120 volts and the exact voltage coming out of your electrical socket can vary depending on conditions at the power plant, in your own home or homestead’s “power plant”. So when this document refers to 120 volts, let’s understand that it's actually a range from 110-120 and just use 120 for your calculations (unless you're outside of North America or Japan, in which case you probably have 240 volts).

Some devices might actually list a huge voltage range, like 100-240V. That just means that it will work with any country's voltage. For your calculations, use the voltage for the country where you're plugging the device in.

Watts and Wattage; Amps and Amperage

Watts is a measure of power (technically, Joules/second) analogous to speed (miles/hour). So you need to convert the power into energy (like speed into distance). Here's an easy conversion factor:

  • If a device draws 1 watt constantly for a year, then its energy consumption was 9 kWh. That corresponds to about $1.00.

Again, you can usually find the wattage of most appliances stamped on the bottom or back of the appliance, or on its nameplate. The wattage listed is the maximum power drawn by the appliance. Since many appliances have a range of settings (for example, the volume on a radio), the actual amount of power consumed depends on the setting used at any one time.

If the wattage is not listed on the appliance, you can still estimate it by finding the current draw (in amperes) and multiplying that by the voltage used by the appliance. Most appliances in the United States use 120 volts. Larger appliances, such as clothes dryers and electric cooktops, use 240 volts. The amperes might be stamped on the unit in place of the wattage. If not, find a clamp-on ammeter—an electrician's tool that clamps around one of the two wires on the appliance—to measure the current flowing through it. You can obtain this type of ammeter in stores that sell electrical and electronic equipment. Take a reading while the device is running; this is the actual amount of current being used at that instant.

When measuring the current drawn by a motor, note that the meter will show about three times more current in the first second that the motor starts than when it is running smoothly.

Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched "off." These "phantom loads" occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Most phantom loads will increase the appliance's energy consumption a few watt-hours. These loads can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.

So, when the chart in the Standby Power section says 5 watts, that's 5 x 9 = 45 kWh/year = $5/year. You'll quickly see that almost any single device consumes very little in annual electricity use but when multiplied by 40+ products, the sum is significant and so is your cost.

Important Notes:

1. The amount of electricity listed on the label is the maximum amount that the appliance will ever use. For example, a 300-watt refrigerator will only run at 300 watts when the compressor's running (which is when it makes that humming sound, indicating that it's actually chilling the air inside). Most of the time the fridge just sits there, using only 5 watts or so for its electronics. If the amount of work done by a device varies up and down, then so does its energy use. (e.g., a stereo that can be turned up or down, an oven that can be set at various temperatures, a fridge that sometimes runs and sometimes doesn't, a computer that sometimes spins its various drives and sometimes has to use more of its brainpower, etc.) The label on computers is particularly useless; a computer labeled at 300 watts probably uses only about 100.

2. Many consumer items are advertised according to their power output, not input. That means the stereo that says 30 watts on the box might actually require 50 watts to make 30 watts of sound (assuming the volume was cranked) and your 900-watt microwave oven might actually use 1400 watts (on its highest setting). That's because all electrical devices are inefficient -- they have to use some extra energy to do what they do.

3. Knowing how much electricity a device uses at a given moment doesn't tell you how much it's using in a month, because it's probably not running 24/7 (and if it is running 24/7 like a fridge, it's probably not using the maximum amount of electricity 24/7). To measure how much electricity something uses for a certain period of time (like a week or a month), you can use a watt-meter.

4. Some devices use a small amount of electricity even when they're not on. This is called Standby or Vampire Power usage. For example, VCR's and microwaves draw a small amount to power the time display. This amount is often 5 watts or less. Devices which run off transformers also draw a small amount of power.

5. And of course, electricity consumption of a device varies from brand to brand and condition to condition, etc.

For Typical Wattages of Various Appliances, Devices, Products see:

Standby, Vampire, Phantom Power

A surprisingly large number of electrical products—TVs to microwave ovens to air conditioners—cannot be switched off completely without being unplugged. These products draw power 24 hours a day, often without the knowledge of the consumer. This power consumption is called "Standby Power” or “Vampire” or “Phantom power."

A laypersons definition of Standby Power is: Electricity used by appliances and equipment while they are switched off or not performing their primary function. That power is consumed by power supplies (the black cubes—sometimes called "vampires"—converting AC into DC), the circuits and sensors needed to receive a remote signal, soft keypads and displays including miscellaneous LED status lights. Standby power use is also caused by circuits that continue to be energized even when the device is "off". An international technical standards committee is developing a definition and test procedure.

Almost any product with an external power supply, remote control, continuous display (including an LED), or charges batteries will draw power continuously. Sometimes there is no obvious sign of continuous power consumption and you need a meter to be certain.

An individual product draws relatively little standby power but a typical American home has forty products constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use.

Some Standby power is not necessary, however, sometimes certain appliance functions do require small amounts of electricity include:

  • • Maintaining signal reception capability (for remote control, telephone or network signal)
  • • Monitoring temperature or other conditions (such as in a refrigerator)
  • • Powering an internal clock
  • • Battery charging
  • • Continuous display

Good design can make the power requirements for these functions very low (but not yet zero).

Standby Power Summary Table by Appliance, Device, Product - For the governments chart on standby power see:

Some Suggestions to Reduce Standby Power Consumption:

• If you aren't frequently using a device, unplug it. (This works fine for the 6th TV in the guest bedroom or the VCR.) Warning, don't frequently unplug and plug in appliances because you could get electrocuted from frayed wires and plugs.

• Use a switchable power strip for clusters of computer or video products. That way you can switch everything to zero with one action.

• When shopping, search for low standby products. (Asking a salesperson will probably be a waste of time.) ENERGY STAR products have lower standby.

• Buy a low-cost watt-meter, measure the devices in your home and take targeted action. You will certainly be surprised at what you discover and this exercise might even pay back the cost of the meter in savings. A list of watt-meters is here.

Limited research suggests that an informed and aggressive approach can reduce standby use by about 30%. Frankly, there are more productive ways to save energy with an investment of an hour but if high standby energy use stands between you and the goal of a zero energy home, then it's an hour well spent.

Legal Authorities

The government (and it’s greedy, fat, fudgy fingers) has “several” energy regulations and executive orders to “encourage” a reduction of energy use in general as well as Standby power. Many products have reduced their Standby power usage, but many more new products come into the market place each day that do not.

Federal agencies are required by the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (P.L. 95-619), Executive Order 13423 and Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Subpart 23.2 and 53.223 to specify and buy ENERGY STAR®-qualified products or, in categories not included in the ENERGY STAR program, FEMP-designated products which are among the highest 25 percent of equivalent products for energy efficiency.

Agencies are required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and Executive Order 13221 to purchase products with a standby power level of 1 watt or less.

The government has a chart on its “Performance Requirements for Federal Purchases” that can be helpful in looking for appliances, devices and products with low Standby power usage. You can find this at: For detailed model information see: . For major appliances always look for the “ENERGY STAR” logo.

The government also makes a few energy cost effectiveness assumptions:

Annual energy use is based on the manufacturer-declared standby power level as measured by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) test procedure 62301 v1.0–2005 and an assumed 6,000 hours per year in the lowest power consuming mode. Annual Energy Cost assumes a federal electricity price of 8¢ per kWh. Lifetime Energy Cost is the sum of the discounted value of annual energy costs based on average usage and an assumed product life of 4 years. Future electricity price trends and discount rates are based on federal guidelines effective April 2009 through March 2010.

Estimating and Comparing Home Heating

You probably wonder how much it actually costs to heat your home during the cold winter months. You might also wonder if you should make an investment in upgrading your home's heating system and if it's worth that investment. The choices of heating systems and fuel types can be overwhelming. If you're building a new home, purchasing an existing home or thinking about replacing your home's heating system, contact your utility company for their estimates the on your annual heating costs for many of the heating system options offered today.

You may first want to start by learning more about how your home's heating system works before you jump into choosing which system to purchase. You should know some basic information about the types of fuels you can use and how they compare in terms of price. Don't reach for the phone to contact an HVAC specialist until you've had a chance to read through the information we provide on these topics and more.

To come up with more realistic cost effectiveness and to adjust this cost-effectiveness “rule of thumb” for a different electricity price, multiply the typical lifetime energy cost savings by this ratio: (Your price in ¢/kWh) ÷ (8.0¢/kWh). To adjust for the hours a device is consuming power at the standby power level, multiply the typical lifetime energy cost savings above by this ratio: Your hours ÷ 6,000 hours.

The Most Common Fuels Used for Home Heating:

  • Natural gas - measured in cubic feet. Residential customers typically purchase natural gas in units of 100 cubic feet - or Ccf. (A Ccf is also referred to as a "therm.") Your monthly natural gas usage can be found in the Natural Gas Section of your bill. Typical average residential usage is 80 Ccf.
  • Electricity - measured in watt hours. Residential customers purchase electricity in kilowatt hours - or kWh. A kilowatt hour is equal to 1000 watt hours. Your monthly electric usage can be found in the Electric Section of your bill. Typical average residential usage is 1000 kWh. There are 3,412 BTUs per kWh.
  • Propane (LP) gas - measured in gallons. Residential customers purchase propane gas in gallons. There are 91,000 BTUs per gallon.
  • Fuel Oil - measured in gallons. Residential customers purchase fuel oil in gallons. There are 140,000 BTUs per gallon.

It appears that each fuel type has its own unit of measurement; however, there is a common unit of measurement that applies to all of these fuel sources. It's a BTU — or British Thermal Unit. If you were to strike a single match, it would put off the same amount of heat contained in a BTU.

Fuel is converted into heat through your home's heating system. To compare different heat fuels, use the common unit of measure applied to all fuels - "Cost per Million BTUs (MBTUs)" .

There are many variables that will contribute to the cost of heating a home. From age, quality of insulation, type of HVAC system, to the geographical region and so on.

Some great online calculators are listed below.
BP has a great little calculator page for determining your “energy profile” based on country, number of people in the household, general type of home and what heating fuel type.
For an interesting comparison chart for Kentucky see:

Most of these calculators will require you to complete some if not all of the following information:

  • • Your energy use and costs for the last year: You'll need your last 12 months of utility bills OR a 12-month summary statement from your utility company.
  • • Energy sources for your home: natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, propane and/or kerosene?
  • • The square footage of your home.

Or you can calculate this yourself: How to Calculate Home Heating Costs by Soren Bagley from

The price of heating a home is one of the most significant utility costs that homeowners face. Because there are so many options when it comes to heating your home, it is useful to be able to compare the different costs. Calculating the cost of home heating can also be beneficial if you're choosing a new home. Over the long run, moving into a place that has lower heating costs can considerably reduce your cost of living.

Determine the cost of heating your home per 1 million Btu

• Step 1 Determine the type of fuel your residence uses. The two most common are natural gas and electricity.

• Step 2 Determine the cost of this fuel type per unit. The unit of measurement is going to vary depending on what the specific fuel is. For example, if the residence uses natural gas, it will be measured in British thermal units (Btu); if the residence uses electricity, it will be measured in kilowatt-hours (kwh). The cost of fuel per unit can be found by referring to your heating bill or calling your local energy supplier.

• Step 3 Go to the home heating cost calculator found in the Resources section below.

• Step 4 Enter the price you pay per unit beside your fuel type in field A.

• Step 5 Press "Calculate." The number provided is the cost of heating your home per 1 million Btu.

Determine the average number of Btu required to heat your home

• Step 1 Determine the climate zone in which your residence is located. To do this, return to the home heating calculator found in the Resources section and scroll down the page to the blue text that says

• Step 2 Determine the size of your residence in square feet. If you are researching for a future residence, you can get this information from the current homeowner or sales agent. If you want to know the square footage of your own home, you can simply add up the square footage of each room to get a good estimate. You do not need an exact measurement; for our purposes it is sufficient to know whether the size of your residence is closer to 1,500 square feet or 2,500 square feet.

• Step 3 Refer to the table provided in field D of the home heating calculator. Applying the information gathered regarding your residence's climate zone and square footage, use the chart to determine the average Btu that your home requires per month.

Determine the cost of heating your home per month

• Step 1 Return to field A in the home heating cost calculator and make sure that the information you entered regarding your fuel type is still there. If it is, move on to the next step; if it isn't, re-enter the information and press "Calculate" again.

• Step 2 Scroll down to field E of the cost calculator and select your current heating source again from the drop-down list provided.

• Step 3 Enter the average number of Btu required to heat your home beside your selected fuel type. The average number of Btu is the number that was obtained in Section 2, Step 3 of this article.

• Step 4 Click "Calculate." The box beside the equals sign in field E will automatically display the average cost of heating your home per month.

Tips & Warnings

• Natural gas is sometimes measured in cubic feet. If your home uses natural gas and the units are divided into cubic feet, you can use the natural gas conversion calculator found in the Resources section of this article to convert these units into Btu.



Home Heating Cost Calculator

Natural Gas Conversion Calculator

Some Cost Saving Strategies and the Potential Cost Savings

There are tons more energy saving tips from thermal backed curtains; turning the thermostat down to 68 in the winter and up to 74 in the summer; putting power strips on all those devices that generate standby power and turning it off when the product is not in use; thermal pane windows; extra insulation; air tight enclosed entrance foyers; turn the hot water heater temperature down; adding draft guards to doors and windows; dusk to dawn exterior lighting; solar lighting and so on.

According to Carlo Morelli you can save up to 10% or more on your heating and cooling energy bill by eliminating as many of the air leaks in your home as possible. One of the fastest and highest payback dollar-saving jobs you can do around the house is to caulk, seal, and weather-strip all seams, cracks and openings to the outside air.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Check your home for air tightness. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to locations of potential air paths to the outside, like windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, and ceiling fixtures. If the smoke blows horizontally, you have found an air leak that can use weather stripping, sealing, or caulking.

2. Caulk and seal gaps where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrate through exterior walls, floors and ceilings.

3. Install rubber gaskets in back of exterior wall outlets and switch plates.

4. Dirty, grimy spots on your insulation can indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house. Look underneath the insulation batting for holes and gaps and seal them by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes, then caulk the edges of the plastic.

5. In winter, when the fireplace is not being used, keep the flue damper closed tightly. Chimneys are created to allow smoky air to escape, so unless the flue is closed, warm air escapes, and with it, your heating budget.

6. Installing storm windows over single-pane windows or replacing them with double-pane windows is a major savings not to be overlooked. Windows can make up 10% to 25% of your heating bill. Adding storm windows can cut the heat loss in half.

Some additional tips from Gail J Richardson at

1. Did you know that in a typical home, electrical appliances such as the television and computers make up for around 20% of the total energy used in a home? That is why when you buy new appliances, you ensure that you only purchase ones that show the energy star. These appliances have been designed specifically for less energy use.

2. Turn off any appliances that are not being used. This is something that you need to get in the habit of because appliances that are not being used can waste a lot of energy. So by turning off anything in your home that is not in use will definitely save you a lot of money and energy.

3. Whenever possible it is a smart idea to use energy saving light bulbs in your home. Outdoors you want to use motion detection lights so they are not using constant electricity.

4. The energy saving bulbs will be a bit more expensive to purchase, but they will help you save money with your electric bill each month which means they are not expensive because of the money they save you. These bulbs only use one quarter of the electricity, plus they last a lot longer.

5. Dishwashers and laundry should never be washed until there is a full load or you will be wasting energy. Whenever possible, it is a good idea to air dry your dishes and your clothes to save on the dryer electricity.

6. Many people don't think about the energy being wasted each time you open up the refrigerator. Always know what you want when you get in there and get everything out at once because the more times you open it each day the more energy you are wasting. Be sure that the door is firmly closed each time you open it also so you don't waste energy.

7. Did you know that insulating your windows and doors will help you save money on your electricity bill each month? You want to check all of the doors and windows to find any air leaks.

8. Then take time to seal them with caulking or weather stripping. This will allow the hot and cool air to stay inside longer which means less heating and cooling to save on energy.

How to Save Energy and Money Lighting Your Home from

Making energy-efficient light bulb purchases is certainly a major way to trim the fat from your electrical bill, but there are many other techniques you can draw upon.

1) Turn off lights that aren't being used. This is the simplest, most common-sense solution, which can result in surprisingly significant energy savings. Consider that a 75-watt light bulb left on for a couple hours daily can comprise up to 2 percent of your overall monthly lighting bill. Shut it off when you leave the room.

2) Be sure to dust. A dusty bulb is an inefficient bulb. Get out the dust rag, and get your money's worth from your lighting.

3) Use task lighting. Don't flood an entire room with light when all you need is a small reading lamp. Choose lighting that meets your specific functional needs.

4) Place lamps in corners. Doing so allows light to bounce off two wall surfaces, meaning you will need fewer lights overall.

5) Choose light colors when painting your walls. Light reflects off pale tones more easily than it does off dark shades, allowing you to use lower-wattage light bulbs in your home. Where glare isn't a problem, consider paints that have high reflective values.

6) Use day lighting techniques. This is the practice of using natural light for illumination. Enhancing your home's day lighting can mean everything from simply moving your desks and work surfaces closer to sunny windows to installing new skylights. See Day lighting Techniques for more on these methods.

7) Use automatic timers and/or dimmers. Timers, which regulate electrical usage by turning on and shutting off lighting sources at set times, and dimmers, which allow you to modulate the brightness of a lighting source, can contribute greatly to energy savings. For more on these, see Light Switch Options and Lighting Dimmer Switches.

8) Don't neglect outdoor lighting. Outside lights are often left on unnecessarily. Using things such as timers, motion or photoelectric sensors, or solar power with your exterior lighting setup can be helpful. For more, see Energy-Efficient Outdoor Lighting.

Some excellent detailed energy savings tips can be found at:

Here's an estimate of how much some electrical energy strategies can save you:

“Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival.”
W. Edwards Deming

From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading, Prepper ;-}