Oh, woe is me! No hot water! A serious issue! Or wait, IS it?
We've had a change in our "standard of living" here at home lately... The water heater broke about 2 weeks ago. We smelled smoke during one of my admittedly lengthy hair-washing sessions (I try to keep that event to a healthy minimum) and that was it. We do still have running water, fresh and cold (!) from the well.
So is that a problem or not? In the throes of "regular" life like getting ready for work, dressing up for meetings, etc on a short time schedule, it sure sometimes feels like it. No quick warm showers! The horror! Ha. I can elicit sympathy from my boss and friends quickly if I want, "borrowing" showers in town.
W and I have been going back and forth about the best way to replace it, what system would be most efficient and cost-effective (but of course taking into account the idea that ANY amount of propane might be very expensive in the future). Tankless or not? Solar hot water is a dream for later... but don't want to rule it out. We will replace the system somehow, and likely soon. But we're reminded that this is no crisis, just a matter of expectations.
Humans definitely don't need anything close to our current western world expectations to survive. I don't REALLY need all that stuff, myself. I've lived without running water, lived without automatic heat. In those days, a hot shower somewhere was a luxury to be savored, not something to expect every morning. But when you are used to a certain level and are in the "world" that expects you to look "professional" every day, anything less seems like a problem.
We'll continue to straddle the two worlds for a while... trying to be more self-sufficient while living in this "regular" house and working. I vow to be better, and not grumble to W too much when the house is 59 degrees because the silly vaulted ceilings hog all the heat from our conservative propane use, or when we have to run the generator to have lights because the house has sucked all the solar power just running the well pump, etc. Someday, maybe we'll have always-available hot water (and heat!) from our winter woodstove, not a complex propane water heater and boiler that we don't know how to fix. We'll adjust our expectations, and we'll ironically be able to better take care of ourselves the more "difficult" (simple) we make our lives.
Ah, the complexity of half-way simplicity!
Here's some truer simplicity, ca. 1937. I image THEY would have appreciated some hot water, though!
From this Library of Congress exhibit. Fascinating...