Small Home, Big Decisions

Mother Earth News Blogs
2/23/2015
By Jennifer Kongs

For this couple building a homestead in northeastern Kansas, wood heat was a “no brainer.” Follow along as they discuss their options and the ins and outs of creating an off-grid homestead.

“Before we even began the discussion about solar panels vs. wind turbines vs. ground-source heat pumps vs. woodstove, Tyler and I first considered design and efficiency. We chose to build our house smaller than the average new U.S. home, because the less space we build means the less space we have to heat and cool. We are modeling our house design on passive solar design principles, including in selecting the house site and orientation, window placement and overhang, and insulation. We know that having an efficient, well-insulated structure will reduce our need for energy consumption. (Don’t worry: How to select and choose from the many renewable energy sources will get more play in later posts; this is meant to serve as an introduction to the topic.)

“Currently, we are looking into renewable energy sources. Based on the cost of connecting a pipe to the natural gas line and running it our future home, and our general distaste for fracking and drilling for natural gas in the area, we are going to have a propane tank put in for the two items we need gas to run (our stove and the water heater’s pilot light). To power everything else, and to really minimize how much propane we need to use, we’re looking at a mix of wood, solar and maybe even wind to supplement.”

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