Ask On Begley Street: Living green on a budget

Posted February 19th, 2013 | 2 Comments

Ed Begley Jr.'s Green home construction
Photo: Green Stock Photos

From the On Begley Street mailbox:

Q:I have followed you, and your endeavors in trying to improve our environment. My question, after seeing the movie on your house, is: How does one, with limited income, try to live “off the grid,” or as much “off” as possible with such a minimal income such as mine? Do you have any suggestions?

I know I may be presuming too much, but I’m 85, and just fed up with the way “big money” is forcing me to live. As a child was simpler and easier, and cheaper. We grew our vegetables, and raised our chickens, and even had a hog. This was in the CITY! Now, they don”t even want you to barbeque in one’s own backyard. HELP! &#8212 Robert

A: I always suggest that people do as I did in 1970 when I was 20 years old and totally broke. And that is to pick the low-hanging fruit first.

What I mean by that is to do all the stuff that’s cheap & easy first:

Energy-saving light bulbs
Energy-saving thermostat
Weather stripping around the doors & windows
Public transportation, if available near you
Bike riding, if weather & fitness permit
Home gardening
Home composting

Then, if you save money on that (& you will!), you can move up the ladder and do other things that cost a bit more, and save more money, etc. Things like a solar oven, and good insulation.

And if you save money from that (& you will!), you can move up the ladder again, and who knows, perhaps one day an alternative fuel car, or maybe even solar panels!

The point is to do something, ONE thing for today.

Then, tomorrow, do some more.

All the best,


  1. Gregg Sullivan says:

    It’s easy to be green but its not easy to be green and have good design. Who is designing your home? I’m interested to see what the design looks like. Do you have pics or a model?

  2. Justin Dolan says:

    Hello Mr. Begley,
    I think it is great that you are spreading the message about sustainability. I have started a community that has living green roofs, our own organic beef, lamb, duck, chickens, eggs, fruits, veggies, and fish. We just finished our third home. It is 6000 sq ft. We designed the roof to collect rainwater. The water flows down hill to storage tanks. It is also used to fill our salt water pool, rancho, bathrooms, and the aquaponics center. After the aquaponics pool and fountain, the used water is filled with the best fertilizer for our raised bed organic garden. We also have a large nursery to start plants next to our stables that uses the nutriant rich water from the fish. You an your fans have an invite to come see that it can be easy to be green, affordable and live in luxury. Our project, St. Michael’s, is over looking the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica. You can find us on

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