Tag: sustainable

How to Choose the Right Wood-Burning Stove

The idea of curling up next to a roaring fire is very appealing. So is the notion of being able to heat your home or cook during a power outage. Wood stoves heat very efficiently, and can also make your home feel cozier. What factors should you consider when buying one? Check out how to choose the right wood-burning stove for your homestead for all you need to get started.

1. Choose a Size and Rating

The size of the wood stove is very important. The U.S. Department of Energy states that a stove rated at 60,000 BTUs is capable of heating up to 2,000 square feet, but one that is rated at 42,000 BTU will only heat a 1,300 square foot area.

To heat a 2,000 square foot home, you’ll need a firebox that’s between 2.0 and 2.5 cubic feet. One that is only 1.5 cubic feet might be better for heating a smaller home or even a cabin.

2. Consider your Floor Plan and Layout

A wood stove can better heat open spaces because there are fewer partitions blocking the warm air. Even so, you can often heat a two-story home just as efficiently as you can a single-story residence, since warm air rises.

Consider whether you will use your appliance as a primary source of heat or only for supplemental warmth. You should also decide if the stove will be used to heat only one or two rooms or your entire home. Only then will you be able to choose the right size appliance to fit your needs.

3. Decide between a Fireplace Insert and Wood Stove

There are basically two types of stoves: a fireplace insert and a freestanding wood stove. A fireplace insert is designed to fit inside an existing fireplace box. A freestanding stove, on the other hand, can be placed nearly anywhere.

Choose a fireplace insert if you would like to increase the functionality of your fireplace and reduce the amount of heat loss through your chimney. Go with a wood stove if you do not have an existing fireplace or want more flexibility as to where you can place it.

4. Compare Catalytic vs. Non-Catalytic Stoves

A catalytic stove contains a device similar to that of the catalytic converter found in your car. Accordingly, catalytic stoves produce fewer emissions than their non-catalytic cousins.

The Department of Energy also reports that a catalytic stove or insert can have a Higher Heating Value (HHV) of up to 83%. At the same time, they work most efficiently when they have a fire burning at “full throttle.” This means you may not achieve the same efficiency if you only burn small fires. A catalytic stove will also contain more mechanical parts that will eventually need to be replaced.

5. Compare Pellet Fuel vs. Wood

Stoves may burn either firewood or wood pellets. Some pellet stoves may even burn other types of organic waste such as corn or cherry pits.

Both pellets and firewood will provide you with amazing warmth. Nonetheless, a pellet stove is often less expensive than a wood-burning appliance, and can sometimes be directly vented when there is no chimney or flue. Consequently, you could save quite a bit of money on installation.

With a pellet stove, you will need to purchase bags of pellets at a farm or hardware store. During a winter storm, stores often run out of wood pellets, making them extremely difficult to find. So you may need to lay in a supply of them ahead of time if you decide to go this route.

Another option would be to install a wood stove but purchase an optional pellet basket. In this way, you can switch between burning regular firewood and wood pellets as needed.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to consider when purchasing a wood stove that will ensure you are well prepared for anything. Keep the above tips for how to choose the right wood-burning stove for your homestead in mind in order to simplify the process.

Don’t miss these tips to keep your wood fire burning longer.

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!

Environmentally Friendly Gardening: 3 Must-Haves

Do you want to be more sustainable at your homestead, especially in your garden?  It is very easy to get discouraged when our projects don’t work as quickly as we want. Adding these few items into the rhythm of your daily life will encourage sustainability for the environmentally friendly gardener. Check out these 3 Must-Haves to improve your Environmentally Friendly Gardening:

Cute bin, Dirty business

This 1.3-gallon compost bin on Amazon is not only affordable but has a five-star rating.  It will most definitely accommodate the needs of an average size family’s food waste.  This bin will add a classy touch to your kitchen counter because it made of stainless steel.  Additionally, the activated-charcoal filter keeps your house from smelling like what you’re collecting.  If you treat the filter well and clean it, it should treat you well up to six months.

Papa Bear Bin

If you have a compost bin in the house, you best have a compost bin outside.  Your indoor compost bucket is merely the middle-man, transporting food waste to the larger container before it makes its way into the garden.  Several outdoor composting options are available for environmentally friendly gardeners.  This sizable container is more budget-friendly and gets the job done, while this option offers a nice price and allows you to turn the compost without having to employ much elbow grease.

The Magic Ingredient, Water

To tie it all nicely together, what would compost be without cool, clean water to help the nutrients infiltrate the soil?  Unless you live where the rain falls at perfect intervals and your garden never needs watering, this sensible rain barrel should come in handy.  Fifty gallons will help you water a small garden until the next rain event.

In your homesteading quest for zero-waste glory, each of these products will assist you in your mission.  Starting in your kitchen, food waste makes its way to your tiny bin. Then from the tiny bin to the papa bear bin and ultimately to those hungry baby plants in the garden, only to be watered in with the heavenly rain you have collected.

Happy composting! And we hope these 3 Must-Haves to improve your Environmentally Friendly Gardening gave you some great new ideas!