Off The Grid

Living off the Grid on a west coast island

They are heavy


I think I have mentioned before that when I first met E’s Grandma from Burnley, England, she asked me what my name was… I told her my very Scottish sounding name. “That’s a silly name ” she said.. “What’s your middle name?” I told her my very ordinary non Scottish sounding middle name. “Fine” she said. “I will call you that”…..She was raised to not like Scotch Presbyterians  and thought us all cheap. Every Saturday she would write on the the grocery list “Don’t buy Scotch Brand” the house brand for Safeways back in the day.

Living in the city we would watch the morning news, the afternoon news, the dinner news and the 10 pm news on TV. We had two newspapers delivered (Vancouver Sun and the Globe), E loved his New Yorker subscription and I had Gardens West. In the winter we still watch a little TV when the sun goes down, the view hidden and our books finished. E likes his hockey and I am fond of Madam Secretary. We have a lot of movies and TV shows which we download in town and watch on demand when the weather grows gloomy.

Data is expensive here and is our major expense. You would be shocked, and appalled to know how much we spend to stay in contact with the world and keep up on the news.  Our property taxes are almost nothing.. $485.00 and will go down to $100.00 when E is 65. I rationalize our internet costs as equivalent to our massive property taxes in the city.

Yesterday we went to town to fill propane tanks. We took four, forty pound tanks and a twenty. We left two more on the drive to take next time.. Let’s pretend those tanks are filled and I can give you a total of our off grid fuel costs this year. Take into consideration that we are mindful of our power use, but not crazy. 

We don’t have a lot of appliances but what we have are unplugged when not in use. We don’t sit in the dark, but all lights are turned off unless we are in the room. We have laptops, cell phones and an iPad but they are charged during the day when the sun is out. If it can be cooked on the wood stove, it is.  Today, I am roasting my Cinderella pumpkins on the stove for Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.oct-19-001

We have a washing machine which we try to run on sunny days and we dry our clothes on a rack strung from the ceiling. When I am quilting and need to iron.. I do it on a sunny day.. You get the idea..

Our costs are getting lower as we modify our lifestyle. We have added 3000 gallons of water storage bringing our total to 5000 but still need to run the Kubota 7 KW diesel generator to fill the tanks.. In the summer with our new solar panels (1000 watts) and the water tanks full, we use very little diesel. Filling those water tanks in the winter is our major use of diesel. We have a plan to work around the generator for pumping water next summer.

Propane  – Filling our tanks at the Husky in Ladysmith, the current cost is 99 cents per pound.  When we were first here we paid double that to have it delivered to our door. Our propane use is pretty fixed as our fridge is 1.5 pounds per day no matter what we do.. But we do try to cook on the wood stove when we can.

2012   $ 580 delivered for our first  7 months

2013   $ 840 delivered

2014.  $ 570

2015    $759. * no explanation why last year was so high.. Maybe my canning method (water bath vs pressure canner) ??

2016    $590

Diesel is at about $1.08 right now. The generator is full to the brim and it should do us most of the winter. Unless it rains every day for 6 months straight.

2012.      480 litres for 7 months

2013.       540 litres

2014.       670 lires.   *constantly pumping to water the garden

2015.       580 litres * pumped everyday to fill the new water tanks before the summer of 2016

2016.       480 litres. *fully functioning solar panel system and water tanks filled before summer

Everyone on this island has tricks for saving fuels and maximizing solar power. It is only a coincidence that quite a few of us have a Scottish heritage. It isn’t that we are cheap as much as that we hate carrying jugs of gas and tanks of propane.

They are heavy


Author: Off Grid Islanders

We are a retired couple living on an off grid island on the West Coast

2 thoughts on “They are heavy

  1. Not being Scottish, I just ‘wing it’. But my wings are good. I estimate well. And we pay approximately $2000 all-in for propane and fuel each year but that runs the boats, the genset and all the appliances. Add $1000 for the car. Our communications run approximately the same at $2K; internet and phone. Food and drink, maybe $12K. Hardware and building supplies, maintenance items and miscellaneous, maybe $6K. Double that on a ‘buy’ year where we get solar panels or batteries or a new genset. ‘Projects’ are on a variable-whatever-basis. Bad news, ‘rainy day’ events every once in awhile say ‘hello’ to a $5,000 surprise! Quilting supplies? Priceless.
    Basically – NOT going away in the winter – we live on $36K a year. NOW.
    Go away in the winter? Add $5-10K.
    In our last year working in the city, we made over $150K between us and I had to borrow to pay my taxes. Mind you we fledged two kids, ran two cars, carried a bazillion umbilicals and lived in a cul-de-sac like NORMAL people.
    Lesson: live like a normal family of four for $150K or more in the city (gas and house prices have gone way up since we were there) or live in paradise for $36K….cut out the scotch and wine and make that $30K or so.
    Hmmmm….reside amidst the rat race or enjoy bliss in heaven………….hmmmm……YOU decide. E, Deer Garden and S&I already have.

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