Something Feral

Digging up the flower-beds.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thinking outside the ice-box

This has been filed away for future use for a while now, but a recent post at Code Monkey Ramblings regarding the use of a freezer for cutting food expenses reminded me of it: a brief how-to on modifying a chest-freezer to function as a low-wattage refrigerator. (The site also has some other practical project ideas, like the worm-farm and high-efficiency wood-stove; ideally, they will all be implemented in future house-plans.)

It may be unnecessary, but I'm going to take a moment to emphasize the reasons for taking the trouble to implement low-wattage technology:

- It's frugal, which is a good thing. I don't pay tax on money I save through attentive consumption and wise investment. Yet. (Frugality applies double to wood-gas cogeneration, provided I can get enough acreage to maintain a sizeable wood-lot.)

- It's survivalism. Low-wattage technology is something that makes an off-grid power-system feasible, and control of my own power means not giving two hoots in Hell about the local power-utility, their prices, or their reliability (go kick sand, PG&E). It also means that properties that were previously untenable building-sites are open to me, which drives down the prospective price on acreage.

- It's self-sufficiency; no further explanation required.

- Regarding the worm-farm, it's a health and safety issue. It's just my opinion, but running "grey water" and septic through an active digestion process (much like, oh, a septic-tank) that also filters the outflow to some place other than the water-table seems just a tad more sanitary and responsible than spending millions on sewage-treatment, then pumping it into the bay (I'm looking at you, coastal hyper-Marxist hives). I'm willing to bet that it's cheaper than putting in a septic-system, too.

On a related note, Desert Cat posts regularly on renovating his little slice of Paradise, which is inspiring for the rest of us that aren't quite there yet, but want to be. I'm not sure what I'm going to do once the process starts, but it will be documented for the same reasons, and hopefully a few more hopeful souls will be able to live the dream (or avoid my mistakes during the implementation).


Erik said...

Some very cool stuff on that link. I bookmarked it for future reference. and I think I shall make a post on some of the things I have seen that I would like to have/do as well. (eventually, I don't post real often anymore)

Elusive Wapiti said...

Pretty cool stuff. Also low-wattage means that your power draw, for those of us not yet off the grid, is minimal and you can then sustain more off of the generator.

MikeT said...

We're already filling ours up. If and when we can find a good house soon, the freezer will be filled up within the first day that Rachel gets to quit her job and start working on being a housewife :)

Something Feral said...

I'm glad you found the site useful, Erik, and I look forward to a post on your "To Do" project-list. I might find something there I forgot I needed, or never knew I needed until then.

Good point, EW, and that has crossed my mind. I'm thinking about getting a Netbook (when I scrape the change together), since they only use 19W of power, and I'm really not doing anything more intensive than surfing. Power bills in the summer get expensive up here, and our apartment has roughly the same insulation as a tin-can. (Yet another reason I can't wait to build a cabin: 12"+ logs have a ridiculous R-value.)

MikeT, I should have known! Let me know how that works out, since I'm curious about the shelving arrangement inside, and how practical/impractical it is to get at the bottom items (which are always the ones you need, right?). I certainly hope that Rachel and yourself are able to facilitate the housewife role sooner rather than later, it sounds delightful. :)

I have more information on a worm-farm "grey water" treatment project, which I will post tomorrow. As for other projects, I'll post 'em as I find 'em, gentlemen.

Doom said...

Nice post. I may be coming to a point where these things you and Desert Cat offer can be used. If nothing else, just the thought waves these posts create is a good thing. But right about now, saving money and having some projects sounds good to me.

Ah, I linked to you tonight. I hope you don't mind.

Erik said...


You might consider wall tapestries? I have considered, tho never done, hanging different things on the walls, such as a decorative throw. It wouldn't be huge, but it would help.

Also, I LOVE my blackouts, which are the light blocking curtains that are used in hotels. They do a wonderful job of keeping the heat either in or out, depending upon the season. When I first hung them up that room instantly became the warmest in the house. I have also found that with the windows open, but those drawn, I can get fresh air in without heating the house too much in the summer from the direct sunlight.

Something Feral said...

Thanks for the link, Doom. You're on the blogroll, too. And I hope you're feeling better.

Funny enough, Erik, I still have the plastic sheeting over the windows that I put up this last winter to help mitigate the temperature change. It worked so well, I closed the curtains and didn't look back. We've used the black-outs before (to great effect).

I like this tapestry idea, though, and I'm going to look into it.

Desert Cat said...

I have been experimenting with the chest refrigerator idea myself. My first iteration used an older chest freezer that was not nearly efficient enough. It still uses up to 1 kWh per day even in fridge mode.

I plan to buy a high efficiency chest freezer next and transfer the thermostat over to it. I'll certainly post about it when I do.

Something Feral said...

Excellent, I look forward to it.