This week an electrical fault in my house had me considering possible off grid eco lighting sooner than expected.Without much thought I went to candles as the most eco friendly form of lighting in my mind, but is it really that straight forward?
The realities and practicalities of using candles was a bit of a shock. I love candles and had been managing to read by candlelight every night for a couple of months. But using it for everything certainly had its challenges.
Granted I let a child do this to me… but you get the concept!
Work days in winter wasn’t the best time to start. Getting dressed in a presentable manner, putting on make up and navigating around the house weren’t impossible but certainly a lot more difficult. I managed it for all three days but did miss lighting and appreciated natural light so much more. For example, cleaning was no longer a night time activity but best left to daylight on days off. And due to work, I didn’t see my house in daylight for the whole three days… which meant it definitely needed a clean by this time.
But also, I didn’t know about the environmental downsides of candles. I did some digging and one article compared burning petrolium based candles to the likes of burning diesel in your car…. not so eco then? But my idea was to eventually get a beehive and use spare bees wax to create my candles with… so would this be more eco friendly than conventional lights? I would still think so, but now I’m concerned about the practicalities of it.
I think my current thinking for the FreEco Bus is to install conventional low energy light bulbs which would be powered by the grid and get a couple of torches or camping lights (which can be recharged) to be powered by solar panels (for necessary use only). So for example when I’m doing my make up, but to try to use beeswax candles for most of our lighting needs.
However, I am still researching this area so it may well changed. Feel free to post your suggestions or good resources in the comments box!
So, I’ve decided to make my dream of creating the FreEco Bus Small Holding a reality… but where on earth do I start???
Honestly… I have no idea!
At the moment I have a rush of questions filling my head… How on earth do I convert an old double decker bus into a family home? Do I need planning permission to site the FreEco Bus on land? What about power, water, warmth, budget? What do I need to be self-sufficient?
But the most burning question of all is… Where do I start?
There is so much to sort out, so much planning, learning and preparation involved. I really just don’t know where to begin with it.
I’ve opened up a Twitter account in the hope that someone may have some useful suggestions on there and I sent an email to a bloke who played a large part in inspiring me to consider the FreEco Bus a legitimate possibility… I’ll post more on that later… If any of you have any tips then please let me know!
For now though… here is a list of questions that I am considering:
- FreEco Bus Requirements – What do I want? Already converted/blank canvas/partly converted? How old? Driveable or not? Size? Design? Can I get one free? If not, can I get one for less than £2000?
- FreEco Bus Design – What living space do I need? How much storage do I need? Floor plan design? Retro/boho style (I know so practical right)?
- FreEco Bus Conversion – How do I convert a bus into a home? Electricals? Plumbing? Insulation? Walls? How will I install a bathroom and kitchen? How much time will it take? Can I learn the required skills to do most of this work myself? Do I know anyone who can help? How much would it cost if I need to hire laborers?
- Sourcing Materials – What do I need? How likely is it to source the required materials for free? Can I get the majority of things needed second hand? Where will I get them from?
- Land – Planning permission? How much land do I need? Where does it need to be? What facilities does it need on site or nearby? Type of land such as woodland / field? Should I buy or rent? How much will it cost? Can I make an arrangement with a local farmer/land owner?
- Budget / Time – How much is it all likely to cost in the worst case scenario? Can I afford to start this project? Have I got enough time to offer?
- Self-Sufficiency – What do I need to be self-sufficient? What level of sufficiency can I realistically manage? Fully self-sufficient / mostly / partly? What skills will I need? What equipment will I need? What can I grow? Planning a yearly crop? What about the food gap? Do I have the time to maintain the crops? What about livestock? Would I get more chickens? Would I get goats? What about their upkeep and requirements?
- Power, energy and water – What will my source of water, energy and power be? Can I get land with a nearby stream? Can I make good use of grey water and rain water? Would I want to be plugged in or collect water? Source of power and energy? What are the limits of solar panels? Storage of power? How much will they cost? What fuel source will I use for cooking and warmth? What are the environmental impacts of all of this and what can I do to improve this?
- Skills – Can I do this? How can I learn? Who can help?
- Downsizing and impact on family – What will the impact of downsizing our living space have on the children? Would we get on each others nerves? What about rainy and cold days? Will my children benefit and be happy with these changes?
There are probably much more than this scrabbling around my brain right now. But having a list like the above written down has made me feel like I’ve got a bit of a to do list going and I can gradually work my way through each question at a time.
I guess to begin with, the main priority with this project is to create a low cost eco home for my family… so I guess figuring out the land and the bus requirements would be a logical place to start… What do you think?
I don’t feel like this project should be rushed as I want to enjoy the journey and I think that if I take it slowly my family will adapt to this new way of life gradually rather than being thrown in at the deep end. I think it will also help us to learn and develop the skills needed to maintain this new way of life for us.
So here’s to taking one question at a time!