Monday, November 24, 2014

Energy Conservation Night

For those of you old enough to be adults back in the 1970s and early 1980s, do you remember the "energy shortage"?  Gas lines?  Odd and even days to buy gas?  We were even concerned about being able to buy energy at all, let alone how much it would cost.  Being a young parent with a young daughter, I worried about these things, and even though we lived in a middle class suburb, I decided to buy and install a Vermont Castings Vigilant wood burning stove.  This was in the day that Vermont Castings had no dealers and I had to drive to Randolph Vermont to pick it up.  But it was that prized of a wood stove, so I did it.

I installed it myself, using tips I got from the half a dozen self sufficient lifestyle magazines that I subscribed too.  Google would have made this whole process so much easier.

With the wood stove installed, we enjoyed the free heat and warm fuzzy feeling it provided us.  My first wife and I also decided that we would have "Energy Conservation Night", a night without using any outside power.  We turned off the electric heat and cranked up the wood stove.  The electric lights went off and candles and oil lamps came on.  The TV was turned off and Sorry, Monopoly, and other board games came out.  Our daughter Becky, probably about eight years old, was very dismayed.  No TV?  No video games?  No.

For the first few weeks, it was just the three of us.  But then a couple of Becky's friends started to come by, sporadic at first and then on a regular basis.  Energy Conservation Night was a big hit, not only with us two adults, but with the kids!

Look, I'm probably the last guy who knocks technology.  I programmed, built, and sold computers for decades.  I love my GPS.  I loved my electronic navigation system on my boat.  They all served useful purposes.  But I don't have a cell phone.  I don't see what use one is, and the one time I did have one, people seemed to call me on it.  I  look on modern conveniences the same way.  They're nice to have, but also nice to do without.

It is never too late.  If you have a young family, consider having your own Energy Conservation Night, and  reconnect with your kids and their friends.  Maybe things weren't so backwards a hundred years ago.


  1. Good luck with that. Now, the EPA is trying to outlaw wood stoves because of the carbon emissions. And no doubt more accurately, because it impacts big oil and the power utilities' revenue stream.

    1. Yep. Good luck with that one! Rumors of a wood stove ban are why I already bought my Vermont Castings Resolute last year off of a Craig's List ad. They might be able to control the new stoves sold, but there is no way to regulate the ones sold used, or already in use.

  2. We sold our little red Castings stove on Craigslist a couple yrs ago after a couple rebuilds. Our Morso (Danish) stove is a good replacement- burns clean without a catylitic converter. Our wood furnace has been rebuilt a couple times too, and may need to go before long.

    Our grandkids were here yesterday..homeschooled, off- grid, full of imagination and never get bored. The 10 yr old reads Mark Twain, Arabian Nights, and they make things from whatever is available. Americans need to relearn how to live how to live simply and see the wonder that is all around.

    Woodstoves can kill ya if you don't do it right.. No excuse for having deadly creosote.. Chimney cleaning brushes and rods will tell you if you're burning safely. Shouldna' be blocking da pipe.

    I love your energy conservation night ideas. Does FL have crickets this time of year?

    1. No crickets here. Too many predators like lizards, which are everywhere.

  3. An old logging friend of mine told me that a rotting tree gives off more emissions than burning it-- I don't know if it's true or not..