As we enter day 4 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the unexpected (or rather unplanned for) struggles persist here in Southern New England. I lost power to my home on Sunday at about 2AM – and its still out. The first 24 hours felt like an extended camping trip, which came with some excitement despite the chaos following the storm. Now into Day 4, the realities of the situation echo throughout our neighborhood streets.
Within the four walls of our home, the challenges are no refrigeration, air conditioning, ability to do laundry, or run the dishwasher – call them all creature comforts of the 20th and 21st century. They are survivable with meager adaptation. On the streets – safety concerns are everywhere…power lines in the roads, no street lights at night, no traffic lights by day, and so on. Restaurants and stores are closed, unable to refrigerate perishables, and unable to process a transaction – billions of dollars in commerce alone will be lost due to this storm.
The common denominator is electrical power, and this is a topic I’ve written about before. Our dependence on the grid leaves us vulnerable – very vulnerable. This storm did some serious damage and separated many from the grid, but pales in comparison to what would be a major storm or other threat imposed on our infrastructure…it would be absolute chaos on the streets.
The dependence on the grid stems from our need for high voltage systems, and high amperage systems to supply those creature comforts. There is absolutely no efficient or cost effective means to provide >110vac to a home other than plugging into the grid. Sure, we can supplement with large solar arrays, but our consumption is still there. This is where we need a radical change – both to avoid future power failure crises, and to reduce our dependence on high priced and failing infrastructure.
So with that, I challenge you all to consider low power alternatives – run on 12vdc. Those of us in the marine and maritime community are intimately familiar with 12vdc systems on our vessels. Most creature comforts, or their variants can be powered with low power. This is better for everyone, and puts you – the consumer – at the control point of the production end for meeting you power needs. It just makes good sense.Lifestyle changes would come from this, as would reduction on fossil fuel consumption, and widespread changes in grid dependence.
This would be a paradigm shift in life here in the US and beyond, but first requires a culture change…perhaps just one home at a time.
12vdc coming my way, and hopefully your way. This is just one of those seemingly small changes that will work wonders for promoting the freedoms we seek with a new life in the sea.