Would you love to be able to live your life without having to pay utility bills every month? After all, going off-grid means being more self-sufficient and able to prepare for an unexpected event or disaster. However, when most people think about going “off-grid,” they think about electricity. And while that’s an important part of the off-grid home, it’s not the most important.
If you’re going to consider your utility usage, especially energy consumption, the biggest part of going off-grid is heating your home. Besides the warmest climates where air conditioning is more important than heating, warmng your home is the biggest chunk of your energy consumption. But the problem is, there are few forms of fuel you can readily harvest on your own. Most of them require huge amounts of technology.
And to save on costs, an energy company must harvest it in large quantities in order to spread the expense across more users. After all, it would be hard to pay those costs on your own. Even so, there are some options to consider. Here are the six top ways to warm your off-grid home:
1. Solar Heating
Solar power is renewable and doesn’t require any effort to harvest. Although the energy itself doesn’t cost anything, your home needs a special design and/or equipment to convert the sunlight to heat energy. Sadly, most homes are not solar heat ready. However, if you have windows that face the south. Passive solar heat is a great way to add extra warmth to your home. And if you have ceiling fans to help circulate that heat, that’s even better.
The costliest and least energy-efficient, electric heat requires some know-how. The best thing to do is make enough electricity for your electric furnace or heater. Also, have a battery-powered backup system to store the electricity you need to heat your home each night.
3. Propane Gas
While not really connected to any type of grid system, homeowners still need a propane company to deliver the gas and fill the tank. This is not a long-term situation, especially in an emergency event. Although the propane heater is not expensive, the propane gas to run it is not.
There was a time when most homes, apartments and businesses used coal-burning furnaces. Buildings had coal chutes for the coal company to fill. However, coal usage has declined sharply because it is bad for the environment. A “fossil fuel,” coal produces the most carbon dioxide compared to other fuel sources. On the bright side, coal is an affordable way to heat a home.
Coal is more energy-dense than wood, yet half the price of firewood. Today, they use anthracite coal, which is “cleaner” than that black coal of the past. Also, if you have coal anywhere on your property and know-how to mine it, you’ll get your fuel source at no cost.
5. Waste Oil
Waste oil is usually a heat source in businesses, factories and workshops since commercial waste oil furnaces are high-priced. However, if you are handy, you could build your own. You can purchase waste oil from a dealer, but you need a tank to store it in. However, waste oil is one of the most affordable fuel sources for heating your home.
Wood is the king of off-grid ways to warm your home. It’s renewable and you can harvest it yourself. So, if you have lots of trees on your property, you could create a large woodpile. Even if you don’t have many trees, there are other property owners who have wood to get rid of, whether it is leftovers from tree trimming, or dead or fallen trees or limbs. Buying commercial firewood is inexpensive, too. For the most part, all you need is a small truck and a chainsaw to heat your home.
Wood heating systems are easy to retrofit into most homes. Wood burning stoves are plentiful and the prices are competitive. Wood is less expensive than gas, electricity and propane. And lastly, if there was a disaster, wood would most likely be the most available form of heating fuel you could find. If we properly manage them, the forest will continue to produce wood for a long time to come.
Off-Grid Heat: Things to Consider
Although they are off-grid, these six heat sources don’t use modern HVAC systems or ducts. However, it is only in modern times that people have used central heating. In the recent past, only the main living areas of homes had heat. People would leave the bedroom doors open or sleep in the upper level of the house where it was warmer. Today, you could also use ceiling fans and vents to move the heat around your off-grid home.