As I write this, another six PV panels are on their way to our house. Solar power is expensive; we have six 200w panels already, and the entire
system will have paid for itself in another 2 1/2 years.
Air conditioning is not a perceived option in many parts of the world. Why "perceived"? Well, my ancestors didn't have it, and they survived;
some of them grew up, lived and died right here in the Caribbean where we live. They lived simple lives, and lived outdoors or on porches when the
heat was very oppressive.
I think we can all do a lot for ourselves, the planet and our pocketbooks by taking a more resourceful view and control of our existance, especially
our creature comforts. Yes, there are parts of the world in which people die when power and a/c are not running. There are parts of the world,
also, where extreme heat is a way of life and where no air conditioning exists at all, at least for those that are not rich.
Four years ago, I went through our entire house and put 1" Celotex
on the interior ceilings and walls. We
installed an attic fan, which is in itself a "poor-man's a/c" in that we can control the airflow, and cool the hot attic space as well. We
painted the roof with a white elastomeric paint, and continue to put another coat on it every year. We use fans, and only use an a/c in the bedroom
at night to sleep.
Everything in the house, except for one ceiling fan and the ductless split a/c runs off our solar & wind power. We've minimized our electrical
needs. Our power here costs an average of (USD) $0.42/Kw/h.
What next? Evaporation coolers, or at least conventional ones, won't do much here in this high humidity. We've built a modest screened in shade
house out back under the tree canopy, and spend relaxation times there. We've built a floating shade hut from PVC and nylon netting, and use it
sometimes on the weekends.
Our fridge and freezer are 24-volt, and about 10 times more efficient than our old fridge/freezer.
These, I think, are some of the answers -- to recognize that cost will continue to go up, that renewable energies are our future. If it were up to
me, twice as much money would be spent toward R&D of such ideals than for national defense.
I work in the sun every day. I'm used to it, as long as I have plenty of water. I don't want to give you the idea that I think I have all the
answers, because that isn't even close to the truth. What I do feel though, is that now that people are perceiving a change that threatens their
previously perceived "safe" life, that we all, including me, need to adapt, to change our manner of looking at things toward a sustainable future.
When did we all stop growing our own foods? Was it when our parents moved to the big city centers, or was it before? Certainly many people still
grow their own or part of their foods, but when was the point where we surrendered our very personal safety and sustainability to the corporations?
They're not going to fix it for us. We have to take control of our individual existance and stop doing things that don't work. yes, I own an
automobile. It's very efficient fuel-wise and I use it when I have to, and will continue to until I can't. I also ride a trike quite a bit
(there's a haunting visual for you
.......somewhat ironic.... d'you know who manufactured the PV panels we have? BP. It was the best bang for my buck at the time; incoming
batch are SolarWorld
, based in part on
Air conditioning? It's just part of the picture, part of what we have to change about ourselves -- not only for our pocketbooks, but for the
globe, and our ever-growing use of energy. Air conditioning matters
a great deal to many people, myself included. What about
human-conditioning? Can that play a part?