Another thing you can do to "work the system" a bit is to only toggle the network on when its needed. If you use it mostly for autocrafting and storage, you can sometimes simply arrange it so that when you approach, say, a crafting monitor, the system switches on. You can also get clever and ensure it stays on while its autocrafting by judicious use of BC Gates and wireless redstone signals.
With AE2 it's relatively easy to set up subnetworks for storage ala Super Soaryn Drives, only better. And then you can keep your ME crafting and processing on your primary network where you have your ME Controllers to handle all the channels needed for these functions. Then you can use an Online Detector to turn off the really power consuming portions of your ME network, aka tons of ME Drives in subnets so that you don't drain your coal/charcoal/steam/yellowrium reserves while you're not in your chunkloaed base. Or, I guess a level would work too.
I tend to prefer better barrels with a storage bus to store large numbers of the same item (iron ingots for example--my iron golem mob summoning tablet produces 3 ingots / minute--we're up to 174K last I checked). And I put interfaces & devices I don't use all the time on a toggle bus, to save power. Although we recently implemented a stack of geothermal generators using lava pumped from the nether (via a system of fluid tanks, relocator pipes, buckets, and magic mirrors), so we're good on power, now.
I use 1K, 4K, and 16K storage modules for everything else, including fluids and essentia. Haven't had a need for a 64K, yet.
There is also an ME Block Container that comes with Extra Cells, which is an ME drive that holds just one item, ala JABBA barrel. It's cheaper to craft than a diamond level jabba barrel and holds as much. It's definately cheaper than a diamond level jabba barrel and a storage bus plus the cabling to support a storage bus for 1 jabba barrel.
The only downside being is that it takes AE to run, but if you subnet off your deep storage and power it down when it's not in use or when you're offline that shouldn't be too big of a deal.
Are you spelling it correctly? (There's no third "I")
Sources include anything with sand in it, typically glass, sand, flint, that sort of thing. It usually needs to be extracted via electrolysis iirc.
If you're near a Mesa biome, grab piles of hardened clay and toss it in a MV electrolyzer. Very good resource for silicon and other regularly needed minerals. Towards the end of my world I was pulling silicon out of centrifuged lava (along with gold, tungsten, and a few other things). GT silicon plates replace eIO silicon balls in all recipes.