Should I move to Batangas City?

Room for a windmill, eh?

I’m getting more and more tired of American malaise when it comes to green and energy efficient technology and medical solutions. No matter what solutions I look into — solar, wind, hydroelectric, dam-powered, or skunk spray steam utilization (a joke, I think) — the cost of living in the U.S. — and the rest of the civilized Western world for that matter — just makes it too gosh darn costly to do anything progressive.

It started out with me looking for new cities and counties to live in. Foolishly thinking that a tax code here or a city ordinance there would make a difference in money that would allow me to pursue my ideological goals. When that beared nothing but rotten fruit, I started to look into different states in the U.S. Well, it turns out that they all suck. Well, at least for green energy purposes. So, more and more lately I’ve started looking into new countries.

I started out with Africa thinking there’d be a lot of sun. Which is true, in fact. But, well, you know. Something just tells me that wouldn’t work out well in the long run. It’s a shame really but hey. So then my thoughts turned to Asia and I started exploring my options.

First off the list were hyperexpensive urban areas like Singapore, Hong Kong, and so forth. Australia doesn’t count and neither does Russia. I know a little Spanish from high school and junior college (well, at least I think I still know some, maybe), so I decided to delve into the Phillipines. Manilla has all the sizzle of the city with none of the countryside steak — open air, land for my gizmos — that would make this lifestyle possible. So, I started delving into other cities and found a place called Batangas City which as it turns out is well known for its resorts and vacation spots. Hmm, a natural fit, it’s. A good idea too, it’s. There seems to be a good bit of property available on the beach front, and the city itself is nearby. There’s 300 thousand or so people in the city too, which — even in a second world jungle city — is big enough where you can find most things you need and are looking for. My mind is nearly settled at this point. Weather looks great too, except for those pesky typhoons. So that means I’ll have ample space and energy for the solar panels, and who knows maybe with the typhoons I’ll be able to make some hydroelectric windmills. Hey, there’s an idea….

solar panels

I know for sure that as good as the sun is at producing energy for us to power our homes and civilization, it is equally if not much more crucial in building and maintaining human health care and wellness. We need our vitamin D to have a sense of well-being, to sleep well at night, and also to have a healthy glow about our skins. Maybe sunshine really is the best medicine!

That said, solar energy just makes sense to me. I would love to put panels on the house, but until the price comes down to have them installed, I don’t know how we’ll be able to do it. And besides the initial cost of installing solar panels, there’s also the issue of maintenance. Did you know you have to keep your solar panels clean to get the best use out of them? Things like dust or leaves or even bird poop (eww…I don’t want to think about bird poop on my roof) can affect the efficiency of solar panels, and on some panels, they can even stop working altogether if they’re not kept clean.

Supposedly all it really takes is to hose them off a few times a year, which doesn’t sound too bad. And then there’s the more technical side of maintenance which I couldn’t even begin to imagine doing myself. I can get out there with a hose and a ladder, but beyond that, I’d rather leave it to the professionals.

There are ways to cut the cost of a solar installation down. State and federal tax benefits can sometimes cut the overall cost in half, but it’s still a hefty initial investment.

I have come across some companies from which you can lease an entire solar power package. They take care of installing the panels and hooking you all up, and even monitor the system to make sure it’s working correctly and will send out a technician to repair it if needed. From what I’m seeing, this may be the way to go! That takes away all of the up-front costs of going solar, while still saving you money on your utility bills and using cleaner, greener energy.

Other things to consider when moving your home to solar energy include aesthetics, both on the house itself and in the surrounding yard. You can’t really have big trees shading the roof, so homeowners have a really tough choice to make. Do you keep the yard green or the house green? Definitely something I’m thinking about. It does sound like it is worth it to keep larger trees away from the house in order to take advantage of the benefits of powering your home with solar energy, as solar energy is one of the most sustainable forms of energy out there! I never liked big trees really close to the house anyway. But they are great for climbing, something I hope Alina will enjoy doing as much as I did. First, we need to get this walking thing down, though!

 

school
I know, it is really, really soon for me to start thinking about sending Alina to school. I’m planning on staying home with her until she starts kindergarten, and then I’ll go back to work (part-time, and maybe) while she’s away. It’s kind of breaking my heart to even think about not having her around 24/7, but I’m trying not to think about too much. We have four more years before she starts. That’s like an entire presidency!

But looking around at all the ways we can clean up energy and make it more sustainable makes me wonder, why don’t we just start with our schools? I know the school closest to us has a few solar panels on the roof, but I was reading that now they’re making solar energy skylights. Kids are only in school during the day, so it would make sense to install skylights instead of those ugly fluorescents, although I do guess some lights would need to go in for days when the sun just isn’t out. Wouldn’t it just make more sense to have skylights that double as solar panels?

Another thing I’m trying not too hard to think about are school buses. I never liked to ride the bus when I was a kid; they’re smelly, and loud, and the one I rode in middle school always looked like it was on fire for all the black smoke that trailed out of the back of it as we drove down the road. I haven’t seen any electric school buses yet, but I know that some of the public transportation buses use clean energy, so it should be easy enough for school systems to adopt that technology, as well. It’s not like they travel very far—just from the school to the surrounding neighborhoods. They could easily drive the morning route, charge up while the kids are in school during the day, and then deliver everyone home! I think I’ll have to get with our school administration to see if we can make that happen around here. If Alina never has to smell those awful fumes coming out of the back of an ugly old school bus, I’ll be one happy Momma!

I also read somewhere that kids don’t perform as well when they go to a school that isn’t energy efficient. Using solar energy would make sense to me to increase performance. The sun is practically ALL energy; I know I feel charged up just walking outside on a sunny day. I can see how kids who sit under real sunlight all day while in school would have more energy to perform well and stay on task. Hm, thinking…maybe homeschooling would be an option for us, and I could teach her outside! Just a thought!

windmill
There are just so many ways we can harness cleaner energy, it’s mind-boggling that we haven’t done more to convert everything to green, green, green sustainable energy! I was out today and it was sooo windy, I got to thinking that if I had one of those wind turbines on my house, I would probably have produced enough power to keep my energy-efficient washing machine (which seems to never, ever stop running!) powered for the entire year.

Okay, I’m probably exaggerating, but it did make me look some things up. Our neighborhood association probably wouldn’t let us do it, but you can get wind energy for your house. It probably wouldn’t work here, because we don’t typically have a lot of wind, but do you know where there is always wind?

At the ocean! I found out that there are two offshore wind projects underway! How fantastic of an idea is that? One of them is out by Block Island, and the other is in Nantucket Sound at Cape Wind. They just take the wind farms from the land and stick them out in the ocean. I think it’s a pretty cool idea, and I hope we make more of these. Not only would it look cool to have big wind farms sticking up off in the distance when we’re at the beach, but it’s got to be much better looking than the big offshore oil rigs. Plus, NO SPILLS. We’re not going to be seeing any headlines about the big WIND spill in the Gulf of Mexico!

However, there seems to be a problem. I was reading that these offshore wind farms were recently approved, but the tax credit the companies get for building them expired. I might just have to write a strongly worded letter to my congressman to let him know that I think this is a fantastic idea and we should do everything we can to encourage companies to harness that wind. Wouldn’t it be neat, too, if they harnessed just enough to keep your sunhat from blowing off while you’re at the beach? Haha, that might be wishful thinking. But I did read that if we built wind farms offshore along the east coast, we could generate enough power to cover about half of our power needs. That includes things like schools, factories, and homes as well as providing for our health care and medical needs by powering our hospitals, clinics, and research centers. That’s as good a reason as any to do it, in my humble opinion!

Nuclear Energy

I keep running across things that claim that nuclear energy is better for the environment than using coal or oil, but is it really “green”? I would think that the reactor spill in Fukushima in Japan would indicate that nuclear energy is actually really, really bad for the environment, but I admit, I’m just now learning about this stuff. There’s so much to learn about how to help our planet while still being able to use the technology that we’ve become accustomed to! I guess we could all go back to the days when we grew our own food (hey, a garden is a great idea! Will put that on the calendar of things to do) and dined by candlelight and such, but no cell phone? No guilty pleasure television? No way!

Nuclear power is supposed to be generated by controlled nuclear reactions. I think maybe the “controlled” part is the difficult part, and what happened in Japan wasn’t so much human error as it was from angry weather. Japan and the U.S. use a lot of nuclear energy now. There are over 100 nuclear power plants in the United States now, and they create nearly half of the energy we use. All of those were at least beginning to be built by the mid-70s. That’s older than me! But in 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved four new ones. Well, not “new.” They’re actually new reactors being built at existing plants.

I’m still undecided on how I feel about making more nuclear energy. I haven’t really heard anything bad about it beyond that recent event in Japan, and that old Three Mile Island incident. I guess people smarter than me know what they’re doing and building new reactors is a smart move.

But I’m also looking into low-carbon biomass energy. The idea behind it is to get energy from decaying plant material and animal waste. However, like nuclear power, it has to be very carefully managed or it can cause problems for the environment. Ecosystems can get damaged, and there’s still the possibility of increasing greenhouse gases. But they can use stuff we already have, like leftovers from food crops, anything biological left over from food production, and even animal manure to create energy. Some companies are already doing this. There’s a sugar refinery which burns leftover cane stalks, and in harnessing that energy, they create enough power to keep their own plant running, and an additional 60,000 homes! I find that incredible. I wonder what they did with the leftovers before?