Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Enchanted Honeycomb in Canada moving "off the grid"

We had to go to a wedding in Gray Creek, British Columbia. It is about 4 hours from the nearest airport (Spokane), so it is a bit isolated (even for Canada). What we found was a great oasis of nature.

We needed a place to stay, and the local bed and breakfast places were pretty expensive. We wanted to find something more affordable, so we searched Craigslist for an alternative. What we found seemed to fit our needs. It was near the lake, close to the wedding, and much more affordable. The house was owned by Charles, and we communicated via email for a couple weeks about the details and directions to get there.

When we arrived, we were happy to find a secluded home. To our pleasant surprise, the home was hand built, and the homesite was being setup to be self-sufficient in the future (more on that below).

Charles has been living in the area for a while, so he was very helpful with directions, places to eat and get snacks, and advice on things to do. If you've never been to the area, it's nice to have someone local to talk to and ask questions.

They even spent a couple hours with us on Saturday before the wedding ceremony, showing us around the vast amounts of land that he owned, and explaining the future plans he had in mind.

We first walked down to the lakefront, and hopped into the canoes for a short trip around the area. The mountains on the other side of the lake are well within reach, if you want to canoe to the other side. We didn't have much time, so we stayed pretty close, and just enjoyed the views and calmness of the lake. The water is a little cold, so we decided to forgo swimming, but it is so clear and clean that you could drink from it. Not often can you see the bottom of a lake. They have also set the foundations for a couple cabins or yurts to be built next to the lake in the near future, so we are excited about coming back to check those out when they are complete.

We walked back up the mountain, and headed through the trails for a short hike. We didn't climb up too high, but we did get some incredible views of the lake and mountains. It would be easy to get lost, so we were glad we had tour guides.

When we arrived back at the house, we were shown the horses, ducks and chickens. They will serve multiple purposes in the future. The three horses will be used for transportation, and will help with plowing and other chores. The chickens and ducks provide eggs. All the animal manure will be used in the future to produce methane, which will be used to generate electricity, and move them further "off the grid". In addition, there was a compost pile and organic garden, which provides the soil and vegetables throughout the summer months. They also showed us the plans for a gazebo, greenhouse (for year round gardening) and a horse stable. This will provide many different housing options for guests. Their future plans for the area not only include housing, but workshops, activites and other educational opportunities for those wanting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

The room was very affordable, especially compared to other nearby hotels or Bed and Breakfast rooms that run over $100 per night. For one week, you can stay there for about $300 (about $40 per day). The price can fluctuate due to the number of days you stay, and whether a weekend is included. Obviously you won't get the same amenities as those other places, but most guests are looking for something more unique, and aren't concerned with the same things most hotel guests would expect. That being said, you do not need to compromise a great night sleep by choosing to stay here. The beds were very comfortable and we had everything we needed. We also had a great view of the lake and mountain background.

As a bonus on our last day, Ellie made us a Spanish omelette to go, which really hit the spot. We were pressed for time, as we needed to get to the ferry early enough to get a spot, so we didn't have time to stop and eat.

We would DEFINITELY stay there again. If you haven't been to Kootenay Lake, it is something wonderful to see, and we highly recommend setting up a vacation to check it out. For more information on the Enchanted Honeycomb, contact Charles Hughes or call 250-227-6944.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Black and Decker Power Consumption Monitor

I have been using it for about two months now, and I think it is great! I can turn items on and off and see what they cost to run. This also gives me an estimate of what my monthly bill is actually going to be, instead of waiting for a surprise when the bill comes. Most people are not able to get this kind of detail on their bills without having a device like this.

Here are some examples of what I've discovered with this device:

Normal Electric use = $0.03-$0.04 per hour
Air conditioner on = $0.29-$0.38 per hour addtl
Water Heater on = $0.04-$0.12 per hour addtl

Some of these costs aren't maintained the entire time. For example, the air conditioner doesn't run 100% when its on, only while it's trying to ramp up to the correct temperature, then it backs off and is in a maintain mode. The bottom line is that you can observe how these changes affect your costs.

Installation was pretty simple. All I had to do was make a simple hookup on the outside of my gas meter using a screwdriver. You do have to program the device (instructions inside pretty straight forward) and lookup your billing rates from your electric company, but it's information you should be knowledgeable of anyways.

Cost is about $100. Check out the details at the link below.

Black and Decker Power Consumption Monitor