Hedge Against Inflation

I have often written about investing in energy efficiency and food production capacity as ways to hedge against inflation. And none too soon!
Dominion Post, 19-07-11
This article from Wellington’s Dominion Post points out that inflation is at a 21 year high, and that petrol is up 20% year on year, vegetables are up 20%, electricity is up 8% and…we’ll skip the cigarettes. While no one may be happy to see these numbers, those who consciously design their lives with the expectation of such increases can at least know that all of their wise planning and efforts are paying off. (Not to mention a certain level of vindication from those friends and relations who like to criticize such plans and efforts.) Additionally, after over 20 years as an environmental educator, I have observed that there is no better way than high prices to convince many people to take so-called green steps such as conserving energy, recycling, driving less and planting a garden. That’s one reason that we emphasize equally the economic and ecological benefits of this project.
For us, the prospects of climate change and peak oil (both of which are already here) motivated an intentional design strategy for the location, orientation and development of our property on Arawa Place. Taking a look at the Dominion article, I’ll address the three areas of inflation that pertain to us.
Petrol: Simply put, we want to use a little petrol as possible. This influenced the choice of location of our house. We are three blocks from a bus stop and it is a six kilometer easy bike ride on a flat road to the city centre. Below is an excellent graphic from Good magazine showing the relative fuel efficiencies of different forms of travel. Note that bicycling is the most efficient form of travel on the planet!
Good Magazine
Vegetables: Over the last 8 months we have planted over 20 fruit trees and built close to 40 square meters of garden beds. We continue to build beds and plan to plant a dozen berry bushes in the spring. For a great set of photos showing the progression of our weed/rubbish filled yard into a food forest/garden go here.
Electricity: We have made major investments in solar hot water, a super efficient washing machine and insulation, and minor investments in light bulbs and a second hand under-the-bench fridge. All in, we are using less than 10% of the electricity as compared to the average Kiwi home, and our return on investment looks to beat even that high rate of inflation of 8%.
Our Eco-Eco approach is paying huge dividends for the planet and for our bank balance. And we want to share this success. I am just finishing up a PowerPoint presentation on the Eco-Thrifty Renovation “so far.” Please contact us if you’d like to book a presentation in your community.
Peace, Estwing

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