I was at the supermarket the other day, shopping for my weekly groceries when I strolled into the seafood section. One thing I haven’t bought in a while was a piece of Pacific Salmon. The kind of piece that you cut up into steaks or cook as one large fillet with just the right amount of herbs and spices. My mouth started watering as I entered that area and thinking of the cuisine possibilities. I was shocked to see that the average price for a piece was $35. It wasn’t that long ago that I remember paying $25 for one. Needless to say, I didn’t get it and I walked out saddened by the cost and hungry.
It got me thinking about and noticing the trend of increasing the cost of everyday items and how we as everyday consumers are powerless to control that. It is happening to the costs of food, gas, utilities, taxes, insurance, bank fees, entertainment, etc., the list is endless. Of course, it could be inflation, but I believe salaries have not changed based on the public census. In our neck of the woods, some might have seen a pay decrease in fact.
I am someone who refuses to give in to this trend and think of creative measures of taking back control of my everyday expenses. I was able to do that with my utilities and I took a closer look at how I consumed energy. It was not a hard change and in very little time it became a habit for me. Along with changing the whole household to LED light bulbs, I saw a 30% average reduction in my energy and water bills. My payback on the initial cost of the LED light bulbs was 5 months. I am currently experimenting the same with vehicle gas mileage just by changing my driving habits. I am noticing a small change but it is still early. That is one of the greatest appeals with solar PV, for me at least. It provides me with that freedom and gives me control over how I consume energy and cost.
I do not have a household solar PV system. If I owned the house I currently live in, it would be the first on a list of household improvement projects. I do however own a travel trailer which I use often to embed myself in nature and experience the clean, off-grid, minimalist lifestyle as much as possible. A powered site nowadays costs between $37-$42 dollars per night. An unpowered site costs between $25-$27/night. The choice was simple for me when the difference in cost was that substantial. The total would add up to a $54 savings on average for a 3-5 day camping trip. That’s the equivalent of one full tank of gas for my car.
The battery bank on the trailer wouldn’t last if I went 3 full days so I bought myself a solar PV charging kit which included the solar modules, wiring and charge controller. The solar PV module was sufficient to keep a charge in the batteries, with more than enough power to run lights, the water pump and other small devices. The solar system gave me that ability to live almost fully sustainable on the road. The solar system was an additional tool in the constant pursuit of freedom and control of the ever-rising living costs. I am not the first to install such a system with plenty of people doing it themselves. I am excited that more and more RV travellers are installing these with it gaining popularity year by year I am certain the same is achievable with a grid-tie or off-grid residential system. It will be an evitable household project of mine. Installing a larger scale solar system for my house will put me in the driver’s seat of controlling my costs and expenses and will help prepare me for the unknown. Very Exciting!
– Arjun M