So yeah, no land. Seems the township supervisor wasn't willing to work with me. It also seems like I'm going to have to look outside of this county to find an area that will. I'm looking at the next county over in the hopes of finding something close to where I am now. In the meantime, I've got a couple of pictures.
I was kinda hoping by now that I'd be able to post the pictures of the land that I was looking at, but I guess that's not going to happen. The township supervisor's surgery went well, but I guess she needed a lot of recovery time. The people at the township offices said she was going to be out for an unspecified amount of time, but it was going to be weeks if not months. One of the women in the office took my pictures and the information about the land I was looking at and said the township supervisor often checks in with them, and she'd pass it along.
I'm guessing she called and never got to look at the pictures. My guess is that the woman with whom I spoke (who did not seem at all receptive to my tiny house, unlike the people at the council meeting) just told the supervisor the size of my tiny house over the phone. She called me back the next afternoon and said the township supervisor said that if I wanted to live on that land, I had to have a minimum 960-square-foot dwelling, and that number was not up for negotiation. She said I could appeal that decision, but that it would cost hundreds of dollars, would take weeks to get an appointment, and she flat-out told me that the people on the appeals board would say "no." Given that it's a small community, I don't doubt that's the case.
But that's the way it is. I don't want sympathy for it; I just want to keep looking.
In the meantime, I've decided to look at some more power issues. Well, okay, before we get into that, here's a picture of Mr. Ficus:
Doesn't he look good? He's been at my parents' house since I went to New York last summer, and they figured it was about time for me to bring him back to my tiny house. I really do like having some greenery in the house again - house plants really do make a home feel more inviting.
So okay, back to power issues. Right now, my solar panels provide enough electricity to power my water pump, my LED lights, the blower on the fireplace, and charge my cell phone. The panels do NOT power the fridge, the ceiling fan, the laptop, or the TV/Wii (which I hardly use anymore.) The main light for the living room is part of the ceiling fan, which means I need AC power to use it. I wanted to get away from that, so I bought two more task lights.
These two task lights have really impressed me! They brighten up the room a lot more than I expected. I have them mounted so far apart so that the light will spread more, but also so that they're not shining directly through the blades of the ceiling fan, which would create an unsettling "strobe" effect. Wiring them up took quite a bit of effort, too. Naturally, I wanted a light switch for them, so I wired the two lights over my computer desk up to one switch to free up a switch, then ran the wires through the walls to get to that switch. Seriously, it was a lot of effort! I had to remove a lot of trim, boards, insulation, and all sorts of other stuff to get the wires to go where I wanted. Now, though, I can turn the lights on using a switch right next to the door.
The light is whiter than the ceiling fan light, and doesn't quite fill the room the same way (since the fan's light is mounted lower and can get under the lofts) but it satisfies me, and I don't feel like I'm compromising. More importantly, that's one more thing for which I don't have to rely upon AC power. If I replace the ceiling fan with a DC ceiling fan (which is hard to find in a 30" - 32" diameter,) everything except the TV/Wii will be able to be powered directly through DC. Which leads me to this:
This here is the "Kill-A-Watt" meter that I got in mid-March. It's plugged into my Uncle's barn, and the orange extension cord is running to my tiny house. All of my AC power runs through that. The number on the meter, 79.76, is the number of kilowatt-hours I've used since mid-March. Now, I was gone for a few weeks recently, so I wasn't consuming any power then, but I kept track of the total each day for quite a while and have discovered that, on average, I use less than 1.5 kilowatt hours a day. Some days I used less than 1, others I almost used 2. Aside from two days where I had my air conditioner plugged in, I never went over 2 kilowatt-hours. Overall, though, the average was 1.5 kilowatt-hours per day.
The average American home consumes about 29 kilowatt-hours per day. Almost 20 times as much. If I'm trying to conserve, I can use less electricity in a month than some homes use in a DAY. Imagine taking your last electric bill and having that be how much you pay for the next TWO YEARS. Of course, that's with gas heating and water heating, but still... I think it's pretty impressive.
But that makes me wonder... when I finally get my land, if there's no power going to it, will it be cheaper for me to go totally solar than to pay to have power hooked up to the property? Now, the 1.5 kwh I use a day now will be lower once I go totally DC - for instance, my fridge draws 36 watts when attached to the battery, but when it's hooked up through the AC power supply, it draws 60 watts due to the need to power the power supply itself and due to inefficiencies in the conversion process. Also, the ceiling fan uses about 30 to 60 watts, whereas some of the ones I'm seeing online draw from 6 to 18 watts.
I figure if I add at least 400 watts of solar generating capacity, I'll be able to satisfy my needs. I'd also need a regulator for all of that and at least 3 other batteries (to store at least 2 full days' worth of power use in case of overcast days.) The price of solar panels, last I checked, were about $4 per watt and dropping. With that, plus the price of the batteries (at full price - no core recycling charge,) the regulator, and new wiring, I figure I can go totally solar for less than $2,500. Would it be worth it? How much would it cost to hook the power up, and how much would the utility company charge as a minimum per month in "service fees?" It'll depend upon where I end up, naturally, but it's definitely something I'm considering.
- The Hunt for Land, Part 2