Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Setting Goals and Life Plans: Our Dream House

As I  mentioned in the last post, our plan is to begin building our dream home in 5 years or so.

Many people build their own homes though; what does this have to do with prepping and modern survivalism?

Building our own home actually involves prepping in two ways: planning for the home and living in the home.

1) Planning for the home

Part of modern survivalism is financial preparedness. By paying off debts and saving money we're moving to a position where we'll eventually be able to afford to build this home.

Secondly the things we're doing now are preparing us to live there.  For example, I'm reducing our electrical use because I want our dream home to eventually be off-grid.  Getting us used to energy conservation now will help us adapt to our new home.

Currently we use about 1200KW a month, but in our new energy efficient home I estimate that we will use between 5-700KW.  Amazingly, despite being a larger home with more gadgets, thanks to energy efficiencies our needs will be less.

My family and friends might think I'm nuts obsessing over things like CFL bulbs, my small vegetable garden and organic lawn care but they don't see the big picture.  Each one of those things are little preparedness steps to freedom!


2) Living in the home

Once we build and start living in this dream home I'm hoping to start living the prepper dream!

I don't think I've clearly stated it before but I'm hoping this new house can become a "homestead" that will provide for most of our needs: electricity, heat, food, water.

Electricity:

By being super-energy efficient my goal at first is to greatly reduce utility expenses.  Eventually I'll upgrade the system with so we'll be able to comfortably live during a winter power blackout and hopefully eventually reach the point where we can live off-grid.

For budget reasons I plan on starting with a minimum of 5 165W solar panels tied to the grid.  Over time I'll add more panels and a battery bank so we can have power during blackouts.  We'll also look into if a windmill generator is feasible.  Eventually I'd like to be able to live off-grid so we won't cut off the grid totally  because in case of emergencies it can be our backup.

Secondly, if we do things right we'll actually be able to make money by selling excess electricity to the grid!

We'll also save a lot of electricity by switching our stove, fridge and dryer to ultra-efficient propane models and cooking when I can with a solar oven.  If I can convince my wife, we'll cook with an old-style kitchen woodstove (but with modern technology) to be truly off-grid.


Heat:

For a number of reasons I want a minimum of 4 acres for our dream homestead.  One of these reason is because we want to install geothermal heat exchange to heat our home and water.  The pipes used in this system are often installed horizontally beneath the frost-line so we'll need room to do this.  The pipes can also be installed vertically but we don't want to limit ourselves to one option.

Geothermal is very energy efficient however it needs electricity to operate the heat pump so we'll include a wood stove as a back up source of heat for on the very cold nights or when the power goes out. Hopefully much of our wood will come from our own property.  Another great thing about geothermal is that it can also be used to efficiently cool your house in the summer by just reversing the pump!

Heating our water will be done using an instant-on tankless water heater.  Geothermal will also be used to pre-heat the water to further reduce the energy use.  I'll also look into solar water heating, especially for the planned indoor pool/sunroom.  It's possible that solar heating and geothermal could provide most of our hot water apart from the coldest winter months!

Lastly, we plan on building our home with Insulated Concrete Forms.  There are kinda like big styrofoam Lego-blocks that you build a home with.  After you make a wall with them they're filled with concrete.  This makes a very sturdy and energy efficient structure, (also water/air-tight, bulletproof, fireproof and hurricane/zombie resistant). With an R-Value of 45  ICFs will greatly reduce our energy needs.

Food:

I'm currently learning all I can about organic gardening and permaculture.  I don't knock those that use fertilizer and weed chemicals, however, to me that seems like a lot of work that you have to do every year.  I'd rather do it all naturally and although it might not look as pretty, at least it will be self-sustaining and low-maintenance.

My plan includes, a small orchard, a greenhouse, a number of raised bed squarefoot gardens, a goat to "mow" the grass and possibly milk and maybe chickens and bees.

With enough acres I could also start hunting or allow other to hunt there in exchange for some of their game.

These won't be enough for us to live completely off of but every little bit is less that I have to rely on the grocery store for and less sales taxes to the government.  It all equals more money in my pocket!


Water:

As I've mentioned before, living in a rural area will allow us to have our own well and avoid paying municipal utilities.  However, having and managing your own source of water also means that you must become a conservationist.

We plan on installing dual flush toilets and a grey-water recovery system in our homestead.  This will save the water from the sinks and bathtubs to use for things like flushing the toilets or watering the lawn.

We'll also install a rainwater harvesting system to save all the water that falls on our roof.

Not only will this prevent our well from drying out, but it will also save electricity by using the water pump less and it will extend the life of our sceptic system.

Our homestead plan will probably change and it may take longer than expected but one thing is for certain:

When the zombies come; we'll be ready
If I look in a mirror while dreaming this is what I see.

4 comments:

  1. Toilets account for approx. 30% of water used indoors. By installing a Dual Flush toilet you can save approx. 40% of water being flushed down the toilet, compared to a standard, modern 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush) model. If your toilet has been installed prior to 1994, you are using 3.5 gallons or more each single flush. The water savings you can achieve by upgrading to a Dual Flush toilet are substantial. By reducing your water usage, you are also reducing the cost of your water bill!!
    If you are serious about saving water, want a toilet that really works and is affordable, I highly recommend installing a Caroma Dual Flush toilet. They offer a patented dual flush technology consisting of a 0.8 Gal flush for liquid waste and a 1.6 Gal flush for solids. On an average of 5 uses a day (4 liquid/ 1 solid) a Caroma Dual Flush toilet uses an average of 0.96 gallons per flush. The new Sydney Smart uses only 1.28 and 0.8 gpf, that is an average of 0.89 gallons per flush. This is the lowest water consumption of any toilet available in the US. Caroma, an Australian company set the standard by giving the world its first successful two button dual flush system in the 1980’s and has since perfected the technology. With a full 3.5″ trap way, these toilets virtually never clog. All 47 floor mounted models are on the list of WaterSense labeled HET’s (High Efficiency toilets) http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/find_het.htm and qualify for the various toilet rebate programs available in the US. They are available in round, elongated, regular height and ADA compliant "chair height" in white and biscuit. Please visit my blog http://pottygirl.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/what-you-should-know-about-toilets/
    to learn more or go to http://www.caromausa.com to see where you can find Caroma toilets locally. Visit http://www.ecotransitions.com/howto.asp to see how we flush potatoes with 0.8 gallons of water, meant for liquids only. Best regards, Andrea Paulinelli, owner ecoTransitions Inc.

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  2. Wow, thanks for all the great info! I'll definitely keep this in mind when we build our next home.

    For now we plan on retrofitting our current toilets with a dual flush system and another water-saving floater device. I'll post about it when we do.

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  3. Cory - make sure to post about your retrofitting...i'd be really interested in seeing how it goes!

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  4. oh one other thing (not related to prepping at all!) - we have seen Woody's zombie movie twice now - we loved it!!!

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