Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for October, 2005

New ESSN Tonight

Tonight’s the night, and it won’t be scary, I promise! The November issue of Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter is live, and it’s free, as usual. From renewable energy basics, to 12vdc wiring, biodiesel basics, and introducing renewable energy in the college classrom, come check it out.


Our New 12vdc Powerpole Outlets

In conjunction with, We have designed a line of 12vdc outlets with Anderson Powerpole inserts. These are ideal for off-grid homes and RV’s. There will be a whole article about these plates and Anderson Powerpoles in general in the next issue of ESSN. These sell for $12.95 without the inserts, $19.95 with, and are available at Arnev Products, Inc.


Diesel Generators in Canada

A friend sent me a lead on some interesting looking air cooled diesel emergency generators in Canada. 4600 watts continuous, electric start, and the company is charging $1200 Canadian for them. They have a 12vdc 8.3amp output, two 15amp 120vac, and one 20 amp 240vac outputs. These are not full-time off-grid power sources. Let us know what you think of them. For more info, contact Shaylene at Boss Tools. Tell her Steve at Green-Trust sent you.


My favorite RE discussion groups

There are a number of good discussion groups for renewable energy topics. The following are some of my favorites, feel free to leave comments on yours and I’ll update the list.

Green Trust Renewable Energy
3rd World Energy
Appropriate Community
Backwoods Home Magazine
Electric Transportation
Renewable Energy
Homemade HAHSA Wood Heaters
Human Powered Machines
Log Home Talk
Rain Water Harvesting
12vdc Powered Systems
Biodiesel Basics
Babington Burners
Simply Off-Grid
sKOOLie Conversions
Waste Watts
Lister / Listeroid Diesels


Heating Costs to Soar This Winter

EIA: Heating Costs to Soar This Winter

The energy industry’s continued recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, tight global supplies of oil, and a colder winter than last year’s will drive up heating costs significantly this winter, according to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). On average, households heated with natural gas will spend about 48 percent more this winter on their heating bills, while households using heating oil will pay 32 percent more, those heating with propane will pay 30 percent more, and those heating with electricity will pay about 5 percent more. Meanwhile, crude oil prices are expected to average nearly $65 per barrel through 2006, keeping retail prices for regular unleaded gasoline at about $2.45 per gallon. See the EIA press release and the Short Term Energy Outlook.

In light of the tight energy supplies and projected energy costs, DOE kicked off the “Easy Ways to Save Energy” campaign on October 3rd. Since then, top DOE officials have visited Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Ohio to spread the word. See the recent DOE press releases.

You can make your own heating oil and diesel fuel with a biodiesel processor kit from Homeland Energy Solutions.


Protect Your Personal Property Rights

Let your voice be heard! The Supreme Court of the United States has taken away one of the most fundamental rights of all citizens — the right to own property. Thankfully, a bill has been introduced in Congress to stop this ruling in its tracks. Your signed Petition to Protect Private Property Rights will be delivered to Congress with thousands of others … to let your Senators and Representatives know that you will not stand idly by and watch your rights be stripped away! Please read the form carefully and declare your membership with the ACLJ by signing the Petition to Protect Private Property Rights below.

Petition to Protect Private Property Rights

United States Senate
United States House of Representatives

We believe the right to own property is one of the most fundamental of our constitutionally protected freedoms. It is a primary reason our Founding Fathers worked so diligently to declare our independence. We will not sit idly by and watch this right be taken away.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on property rights, which allows the government to seize the home, small business, or other private property of one citizen and transfer it to another private citizen if the transfer would boost the community’s economic development, is an outrage.

We stand in strong support of Senator John Cornyn’s bill, “The Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act of 2005,” that would prohibit transfers of private property without the owner’s consent if federal funds were used, and if the transfer was for purposes of economic development rather than public use.

We ask that you swiftly review and pass this important legislation.


Amory Lovins to Participate in Pivotal Panel, 10.20.05

“Winning the Oil Endgame for a More Secure and Profitable America: Opportunities, Barriers and Necessities for a Transition to a Reduced-Petroleum Economy”

New York University School of Law will host a panel discussion on the future of U.S. oil on Thurs., Oct. 20, 4-5:45 p.m. at NYU’s Greenberg Lounge, Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South (between Sullivan and MacDougal Streets). Participants include the following: Amory Lovins, CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute; Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University; James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; Roger Altman, former deputy secretary of the treasury; and Charles Fox, New York’s deputy secretary for transportation, energy and environment. The event will be moderated by NYU Law Dean Richard Revesz and chaired by Jeffrey Tannenbaum, president of Fir Tree Partners. Participants will discuss investment opportunities in the transition from oil dependence, the role of energy in national security, the role of defense in leading technology advances, and the legal and regulatory implications of a transformed energy sector.

Other attendees include more than 200 leaders of the business, finance, and legal communities, and government and academia in the New York area. The event is co-hosted by Fir Tree Partners and Rocky Mountain Institute, which published Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security in 2004.

Reporters interested in attending the event must RSVP to James Devitt, Office of Public Affairs, at (212) 998-6808 or

If you require additional information please call Trish McNicholas at the Law School at (212) 998-6486.


Performance tracking of alternative fuels

The folks at Brevard BioDiesel installed a Linear-Logic “ScanGauge” in their 2004 TDI Jetta to try and help gather additional mileage data for future biodiesel reports.

The ScanGauge scans the built-in car computer to gather and report various engine and fuel data, along with a trip computer function.

The following readouts seemed to function with the Jetta TDI engine: Fuel Economy (MPG), Fuel Rate (GPH), Battery Voltage (Volts), Water/Coolant Temp (degrees), Intake Air Temp (degrees), Engine Speed (RPM), Manifold Pressure (PSI), Engine Load (%), Throttle Position (%). The following readouts were not supported on the 2004 TDI: Ignition Timing, Open/Closed Loop, Fuel Pressure.

Read more at Brevard Biodiesel’s website.

The ScanGauge is compatible with most OBD2 equipped gasoline and diesel vehicles using a variety of fuels.

Hi Steve,

I have been using a ScanGauge for several months. Many of us that report in at own ScanGauges or Vag-coms. It has performed well. I talked with the guy that runs the business– seems very helpful, willing to keep his customers updated as the product improves.

The ScanGauge can be useful in understanding how driving habits affect mileage, or comparing car modifications, like opening a car window for example.

The MPG readout is really a nice feature, and works well at ordinary conditions. I find the best way to understand the mpg output is to put the readout on trip/summary. Then, reset when you start looking at a new situation. The gauge averages the mpgs from that point until you hit the reset button again. When the true mileage gets over about 70 mpg, the ScanGauge isn’t able to get a reliable reading, it reads too high. I think that’s not a fault of the ScanGauge, just hard to get reliable readings from the OBD port. Also, you need to calibrate carefully for your usual driving conditions. If you make a big change in speed or change to city driving, the calibration needs to be adjusted.

I have run numerous tests in which I compare fuel economy under controlled conditions. A ten-minute average reading (ScanGauge set at Trip /Current) gives reliable MPG numbers if you are sure there is no grade or wind. Otherwise, make two measurements in opposite directions. Frankly, I think there is always enough grade and wind, so make two measurements.


1. Measured effects of tire pressure changes
2. Open windows versus closed
3. AC on versus off

You can find reports of this stuff at

Ernie Rogers

VW Beetle wins fuel economy prize: 76 mpg


Atlantic City Wind Farm

TRENTON, N.J. Construction has started in Atlantic City on New Jersey’s first energy-producing wind farm.

A Pennsylvania company is building five wind turbine towers, each about 300 feet high.

The company, called Community Energy, says once the windmills are completed in December, they’ll provide enough electricity to power about three thousand to four thousand homes.

Supporters of wind energy say it provides a clean source of renewable energy.

But some critics say the windmills are dangerous to traveling birds.

The New Jersey Audubon Society and Community Energy will be studying how the windmills affect bird migration patterns.

On a side note, yearly vehicle collisions with deer account for more than 150 human and nearly 1.5 million deer fatalities. Are these same critics calling for the banning of automobiles?


Carla Emery has passed away

Carla Emery DeLong, bestselling author of The Encyclopedia of Country Living and tireless crusader for the homesteading movement, passed away of complications from low blood pressure on October 11, 2005. She died in Odessa, Texas, on her way home from a national speaking tour, surrounded by her family.

Carla’s entire life was distinguished by her strength of character and her willingness to make her own way on her own terms. She will be remembered by thousands around the world for her writings on independent living, and for the doctrines of self-sufficiency and environmental stewardship she preached at speaking engagements across the United States. She is survived by her devoted husband, Don DeLong; by her brother, Dick Hoff; by her seven children and their partners, Dolly and Steve Perry, Dan and Miriam Emery, Becca Emery and Phil Vlahakis, Luke Emery, Sara and Stephen daSilva, Jacob Emery and Karolin Röcklinger, and Esther Emery and Nick Fouch; and also by six grandchildren, Ben, Beth, Matthew and Hannah Perry, and Elijah and Neoma Emery.

Shortly before her death Carla wrote down how she wanted to be remembered. “She was responsible. She loved a job. She loved being a wife, a mother, and a writer. She worked hard and did her best.”

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 5 at Grace Chapel in Willcox, Arizona. All the many people whose lives Carla touched are welcome to attend.

Please leave condolences and comments about your experiences with Carla’s seminars, what her book meant in your life, or other observations.