Utilities. We have them. At one time when we planned to downsize our lives and move to The Poor Farm we did fantasize about being 100% off grid, but now we're not so sure that is a reachable goal. whirling quickly towards our 60's, our limited resources have altered our dreams.
Solar or wind power for electricity for example, probably not going to happen. We'll see. In the meantime, our total monthly budget for utilities is $283/month and breaks down like this:
Electricity budget/month is $80. Sadly it is via Commonwealth Edison, which is not well known for their customer service. Our power goes out about every other month, at all times of the year. Usually only for 1-2 hours, but in bad storms we can lose it for up to 8 hours. Too many customers and not enough equipment we hear. It is the only electric company that serves this area. We do not have central air but do use a window air conditioner occasionally on very hot summer days. We also have three freezers (kept in the decrepit house) that we use for meat and veggie storage. Soon we'll be down to just two freezers, plus in the Looney Bin: one small refrigerator, one washing machine, a 20 gallon water heater and a small water softener.
Heat: ZERO! Our sole source of Looney Bin heat is our Rocket Mass Heater. Because it burns only sticks of wood, one to two inch diameter rather than logs, we use scrap wood, twigs, cuttings from here on our property. It does take time to collect and sometimes split larger hunks of wood into smaller sticks, but there is no cash layout involved. We estimate we will burn less than a half cord of wood to heat our home for the entire year, October through March, since we fire up the heater only 2-4 hours each day and not at all on days when it is more than thirty degrees outside. When the RMH is running, inside temps are 70-72 and stay there a good 8 hrs after the fire is out. On winter days when it is not burning, inside temps are 60-64 degrees. Perfect Irish sweater weather.
Water: ZERO! We have a 150 foot well which supplies our our water needs for us and our livestock. Water heating expense is covered above under electricity.
Garbage: ZERO! We are allowed to burn trash here in the country and recycle lots of non-burnable things all over the farm. Anything that requires a dumpster we haul into town once every couple of weeks to a free dump site.
Phones: $120/month through Verizon. Keith owns a basic flip phone and I have a smart phone. I used it often when we had our own organic meat and raw milk business as we juggled hundreds of customers each month and several restaurants . Then, it was very useful when I was in school full time in 2014-2016 but now...it is only a luxury. So, we'll be looking into a basic phone for me and kissing the smart phone goodbye. Hope to slash this budget in half soon.
Internet budget: 60/month. The internet service through Frontier will stay, as vital for my writing career and since I'll be giving up the smart phone, I'll need a place to blog, and check weather, and recipes, and chat with my sisters and to watch how to YouTube videos and on and on. I can give up a lot, but not the internet, at least not yet.
TV budget: $8/month for Netflix. We do not watch cable or any other service. Netflix is more than enough.
Propane budget: $10/month for my cook stove. I have a four burning gas stove we converted to propane and a small 100 pound propane tank that sits outside my kitchen window. The tank gets refilled about every 6 months. I do cook meals/ bake everyday and can our produce as well. We do reheat food on the RMH but since we don't burn it everyday, and only half of the year, it's not used for regular meal preps.
So, I ask you, what does your utility budget look like? If you use solar or wind power for your electricity can you share your costs for that? Tell me how you heat your home and at what price. Do you use a basic phone? Smart phone? How much is Internet in your neck of the woods or plains?
Can't wait to hear.