Modern Homesteading: How Homesteaders Are Using High Tech to Save Energy
By Elena Smith
What comes into your mind when you think about the word homestead? Giving up everything and traveling a thousand miles to live in an ascetic lifestyle?
Homesteaders don’t have to be stereotypes! You don’t have to move to the middle of nowhere to become a homesteader, and homesteading isn’t about living the life of someone in the old days.
The adaption to modern challenges is what separates the modern homesteaders from the old ones. And this article introduces 7 tech tools modern off-gridders are using to save energy (and money) – and you should too.
1. Solar Panels
Solar power is one of the most accessible options modern homesteaders can use to save energy. How much can solar panels reduce your carbon footprint? According to the formula provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, a 6,000 watts solar panel system can offset the emissions produced by one fossil fuel automobile in a year.
Solar panels can also create big savings, especially if you live in a state with middle- to upper-level utility rates. For example, if you are using 10,400 kWh annually (the average amount for a US household), you can save over $1,000 a year on electricity alone with the solar system.
2. Wind Turbines
Solar power is not the only option. Installing wind turbines in your homestead will surprise you with their effectiveness and sustainability in energy saving. The only thing is that wind power is quite site-sensitive and practical about the wind quantity and direction.
If you have enough and consistent wind in your area, you may consider purchasing a home wind generator to reduce your energy bill or even live grid-free. Some even built their own wind generators with off-the-shelf parts from their local hardware stores.
3. Solar Powered Home Appliances
Installing a homestead solar electric system might be a challenge for a big house homestead. If you don’t want to do the math to calculate the wattage needed for daily use or turn to an electrician for help, the solar-powered appliances (with a built-in or separate solar panel) will save you the trouble and help you go greener effortlessly.
For example, solar powered security cameras can keep your property safe and save energy at the same time. The add-on solar panel can store energy for days and can be tilted 360 degrees so that it can collect most sunlight throughout the year. Other useful solar-powered home appliances include solar-powered oven, lamp, water heater, and etc.
4. Electric Bikes
It can be a daily routine for some modern homesteaders to ride their cars to nearby stores for some additional daily appliances. If you are one of them, consider replacing your automobile (electric or conventional cars) to an electric bike, which produces zero emissions, saves your bill on the gas expense, and help you to get a better shape at the same time.
These days, the electric bikes are gaining more and more popularity among the green homesteaders, thanks to its improved capacity to go long distances (760 driving miles annually on average) and the falling price.
5. Micro Hydro Power Generator
Unlike the solar power and the wind power, the micro hydropower is more consistent and reliable as a sustainable energy source – it can continuously produce energy even if the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.
And therefore, the micro hydropower is favored by those modern homesteaders who have close access to the micro hydropower source. Actually, the hydropower has already been put into use on some high tech daily appliances. For example, the shower head with built-in water-powered turbine can use the hydro energy to show you the water usage and temperature.
6. Geothermal Heat Pumps
Do you know that almost two-thirds of a typical homeowner’s energy bill is from heating, cooling, and hot water? The biggest potential for energy savings comes from your heating and cooling system. And this is where the geothermal heat pump comes into play.
So how does it work? The geothermal system can do heat exchange between the temperature underground and the ambient temperature of the air around you. It collects heat from below the ground to heat your house. The effect can be reversed in the summer to cool your house.
7. Energy Saving Appliances
On average, home appliances are responsible for roughly 13 percent of your total household energy use. Energy star appliances are recommended to save energy in homesteading.
The Energy Star label is a federal guarantee that the appliance will consume less energy during use and when on standby than standard non-energy efficient models. Compared with the conventional models of home appliances, these appliances can save you 9-25% operating cost.
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