Monthly Archives:January 2005

Vermont Home Harnesses Wind

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In pristine northern Vermont, tucked in the woods, David and Mary Lahar have lived off the electricity grid since moving to their new home in Strafford in 1984. As David reports, concern for the environment and interest in alternative energy technologies were the underlying forces behind their home-building decision. The Lahars obtain between 75 and 80 percent of their electricity from wind, with the rest coming from solar panels.

They use wood for heating and use propane for instantaneous hot water, as a back-up heating source, and for cooking. The Lahars keep their electric needs modest, but recently David has considered putting up a larger wind turbine to provide for his family’s growing needs.

When choosing a lot for the 1,700-foot timber-constructed home, wind was a primary consideration. The Lahars conducted wind tests for a month before they made a final decision. An average of 8 mile per hour (mph) winds are enough to get the turbine paddles moving, and the site they finally chose for their wind turbine on Mount Mansfield has regular 10 mph winds. They constructed a 100-foot platform to raise the windmill above the tree line in an attempt to further capture the wind and installed a Sencenbaugh 1.2 kilowatt wind turbine with 13-foot blades.


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Ecolonomics is the word expressing the understanding that ecology and
economics are two sides of the same coin. Ecolonomics is a movement away
from behavior that is ecologically and economically destructive towards
activities that protect our environment and nurture our economy.

Woody Harrelson: Getting off the grid

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Harrelson is an all-organic vegan, and he and his family spend time well off the grid in the Hawaiian forest with 40 other families in a community that has no power lines sticking into it and no sewers or water mains under its earth.

Woody Harrelson
Harrelson loves Hemp and Hawaii

It’s a totally self-sufficient way of life that Harrelson thinks is more achievable than most believe. He offers tips on how to do it on the people-power Web site he and his wife, Laura Louie, have created at

But how does a mega-star rationalize his larger-than-life existence with his simple aspirations?

Rainwater harvesting once common, needed again to promote conservation

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By Mike Mecke

For thousands of years, the world has relied upon rainwater harvesting to supply water for household, landscape and agricultural uses.

Before city water systems were developed, rainwater was collected (mostly from roofs) and stored in cisterns or storage tanks. Rainwater is a free source of nearly pure water and too valuable to waste.

Alternative Energy Bangladesh: Reaching Where the Grid Can’t

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[Via Alternative Energy Blog]

Bangladesh is experiencing a severe energy delivery crisis. The Financial Express of Bangladesh says loadshedding and suspension of production in industrial zones due to low gas pressure is a daily occurence. the Government is trurning to solar energy to remedy the shortfall.

Access to electricity in Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world. The coverage stands around 30 per cent of the total population. However, the rural areas of Bangladesh, where nearly 80 per cent of the population live, only have about 10% coverage.

DARYL HANNAH: Eco Friendly Cars

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Hollywood actress Daryl Hannah insists millions of people could follow her example and drive a car fuelled by vegetable oil; they just need a diesel engine.

Hannah wants clean cars
Hannah talks sense on cars

Based primarily in Colorado, Hannah lives an environmentally-friendly existence with a solar-powered home. When she leaves the confines of her house, she drives around in her 1983 EL CAMINO, which has had no special work done to it to get it running on bio-diesel.

She says, “Basically, in 1900 at the World Fair, RUDOLPH DIESEL invented the diesel engine to run on peanut oil so farmers could grow their own fuel. So any diesel engine can still run on vegetable oil. It doesn’t cause greenhouse gases and has lower carbon dioxide and all the other emissions.

“There are about 250 (gas) stations in the country now that sell it, but you can also order it online. I get it in my little town in the mountains from our local fast food restaurants. They donate it to us and my caretaker makes it. But when I’m in LA, I order it online and it’s delivered in 55 hours with a pump just like you get at a gas station.”

Hannah admits her car often smells of French fries or donuts because of the oil.
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Power Toys

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Here are a few technical toys for getting and using power in an off-grid home.

Starting with the NiMH battery Charger, it holds 4 AA or AAA NiMH batteries, and charges from 120vac housepower or 12vdc car power as input. About $20 from Walmart, and came with 4 AA NiMH batteries.

That gives me power for all those battery sucking devices like flashlights, remote control vehicles my boy’s like, clocks, and caller ID phones.

Next up in the Power toolbox is my Kill-A-Watt.

What is off-grid?

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Being off-grid means something different to everyone. To me it simply means not being tethered to the services one normally expects of society.

No power grid, no water or sewer grid, and in some cases, no communications grid. Some are permanently off-grid (like ourselves), others only temporarily off-grid, in the form of RV’s, boats, vehicles, etc. When one is off-grid, one has to provide some of those services (the ones deemed necessary) for oneself.

As a new addition to the Off-Grid team, I will explain ways to obtain power, water, communications and other self provided services, and show some of the neat appropriate technologies available to you in this area. I will be presenting solutions like Rain Water Harvesting, Composting Toilets, Solar, BioThermal and Wind power, Cellular and Satellite voice/data communications, and environmental controls (Heating/Cooling) in stationary and mobile environments.

I currently use a combination of wind, pv, and Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) fueled diesel co-generation on our off-grid farmstead.

Welcome to the journey.

Join the Off-Grid Team

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We need at least three people to help us build into a center for people who want to live, work or travel in a new, free, eco-friendly way.

Ad sales person
UK research/admin volunteer
US research/admin volunteer
Other research volunteers – e.g. Australia and New Zealand


This is a paid position, based in the UK or the US, and on your shoulders will rest the responsibility to make the site financially viable.

We need a web literate, commercially minded person, who believes in the message on the site, that we can live off-grid in comfort, save money and be good to the planet at the same time.

Responsibilities include: supervising all advertising sales; developing relationships with long term advertisers; marketing to support the ad sales effort; co-ordinating with the tech team to ensure banners are well positioned and web stats are fed back to clients; promoting the retail items we sell on the site; sourcing more products for us to sell on the site.

You will need to know the nuts and bolts of Internet commerce, how do I do a good affiliate deal, and what is a bad one? What is a fair price for a bannner ad? How do you count clickthroughs? No Nu-be’s please!

You will be equally at home offering a discount to an advertiser of solar panels for a banner on our home page, or negotiating with a manufacturer for a discount on a wind turbine to be sold in our online store.

At least 3 years relevant experience preferred; good teamwork vital.

This is a full time job (or more) The basic pay is $800 per month as an advance against sales targets. With excellent bonuses and achievable targets you should be bringing in $2500 within three months. After that pay will increase with the success of the site.

Please email or call +44 7971 543703.


We need people to be constantly out there researching the latest off-grid developments, finding good stories, good writers, potential advertisers; making links to to other sites, and requesting links from them; representing off-grid in discussion groups and forums.

All expenses paid — i.e. phone calls and Internet connections.

Please email: nick at or call +44 7971 543703 – due to high levels of spam, do not assume an email you sent was actually received.