Tag: Green Energy

7 Ways to Reduce Energy Use and Reliance on the Grid

For most of us, living a more sustainable lifestyle is the main reason we became interested in homesteading. While you may have dreams of living off the grid one day, you can reduce your reliance on the grid now by decreasing how much energy your household uses. Check out these 7 Ways to Reduce Energy Use and Reliance on the Grid.

Unplug Stuff

Hopefully, you’re already in the habit of turning off lights and appliances when they’re not in use. If not, that’s your first step. Yet, your appliances and devices don’t stop drawing power when they’re off. Unplugging things is the only way to stop them from pulling power. How much energy you can save depends on what you have plugged in and how old your electronic devices are. (Older devices use more energy in standby mode than newer ones.)

Get Rid of Some Appliances

Starting with rarely used appliances makes this easier. Could you live without the waffle iron, hairdryer, or electric skillet?

Next, you need to find out how much energy the remaining appliances are consuming. Energy monitoring apps like Smappee and Meter Plug can help you find your energy-guzzling appliances.

Getting rid of energy-guzzling appliances is an important move. Unfortunately, energy guzzlers tend to be appliances we rely on for our daily living like the water heater and the refrigerator. Since most of us probably aren’t ready to give up modern conveniences such as hot water and refrigeration, we need alternatives for our energy guzzlers.

Replace Energy Guzzlers

The easiest alternative is to replace your energy guzzlers with the most energy-efficient appliances you can find. Doing that makes an upfront investment necessary, but you should see a return on investment in the form of lower utility bills.

Another option is to invest in appliances that get their power directly from renewable energy sources. Perhaps getting a solar-powered fridge or building a solar-powered oven will begin your journey toward off the grid living.

Make Lifestyle Changes

It’s possible to lower your energy use with lifestyle changes. Hang your laundry to dry on a drying rack or an indoor clothesline. Drop online gaming to spend your free time on hobbies that don’t require energy consumption like reading books, doing crossword puzzles, or going for walks.

Switch to LED Lighting

If you still have incandescent bulbs, it’s time to replace them. LED bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. Also, LED bulbs last longer than incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs.

Prevent Heat Loss During Winter

When the temperature starts to drop, it’s a good time to winterize your home. Make sure you have adequate insulation. Seal gaps around windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk. Install door sweeps on exterior doors. Keep the chimney flue closed when you’re not using the fireplace.

Consider Alternative Energy

Solar and wind are popular alternatives to getting energy from a utility. The option that makes the most sense for you depends on factors like your climate and budget.

You don’t have to live in sunny Nevada to benefit from solar panels. In fact, Massachusetts and New York are among the leading states for generating solar power. If you looked into solar years ago and decided it was too expensive, you may want to take another look. The cost of solar has been going down over the last few years.

Is your region windy? Then you may be interested in a backyard or rooftop wind turbine. Wind power can be used on-grid or off-grid. The Department of Energy has created a guide to help you determine if wind power is right for you.

The Takeaway

Reducing energy use and reliance on the grid involves creativity and a willingness to do things differently. There’s no reason you have to try all of these tips at the same time. Starting small and taking bigger steps later helps you stick with the changes you’ve made. If you have any ideas to add to these 7 Ways to Reduce Energy Use and Reliance on the Grid please share!

6 of the Top Ways to Warm Your Off-Grid Home

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.

2. Electric

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.

4. Coal

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.

6. Wood

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.