Solar? Wind? 

What about rainwater collection?

I've got a a rain barrel in place this year. 

We are on city power, water and gas. I also have a wood burning stove that hasn't got any use this year. The cord we ordered last winter was delivered wet. It was such a horrible experience, we didn't bother this time around. 

Tips, tricks or suggestions? 

Tags: energy, solar, water, wind

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Been there, do that.  I think my avatar is me and the wife standing in front of some of our house solar panels.  1kw wind turbine, 2.1kw solar panels, solar domestic hot water, wood heat.

The cord of wood you got wet should be ready to burn now (if you kept it from the elements).  Wood needs to season for a year before burning.  You need to see checking on the wood ends, and it should be grey in colour.  Here we cut almost 5 cords for a winter, and the cutting in 2013 will be used in 2014-15 season.

10 - 11 months of the year we use rainwater for everything but drinking (3000 gallon underground tank as reservoir).  New 3 litre per flush (3/4 us gallon) toilet really reduces water use too.

Don't give up.


The wood molded and was burned last year. It was supposedly seasoned, but then got wet in a downpour. 

Our horrible experience was the two hours it took to get the stove going every morning. 

This year we just used the climate control. :/

The wood molded and was burned last year. It was supposedly seasoned, but then got wet in a downpour.

I grew up in a house heated primarily by a wood burning stove. I used to come home from school, arrive first and build a fire every day. (If I didn't, I wouldn't have heat.) I know all the tricks, including how to deal with wet wood.

1) Deal with your wet wood. You've got to quarter it, stack it loosely so it dries, and cover it so it won't get wet again, but the air can circulate around it, through it, and under the covering. (If you bought the wood without getting it split into quarters first, you're in for a workout to quarter it.) Stack the wood outdoors on long branches or 2x4s but keep it far enough away from walls or fences so the air can blow through and around it. Put plastic or a tarp over it and use branches jammed between the logs to raise it up off the wood so the air gets under it.

2) Dry wood when you have a fire. When you're ready to start your fire, bring in the driest wood you can find, and stack it near (but not against) the stove. Put a couple of pieces of wood right on top of the stove where the iron gets hot. The idea is that you're using the heat of the stove to dry out the wood once you get the fire going. You are making a wood-drying assembly line: the sides of the stove are step 1, the top of the stove is step 2, the top of the stack of wood inside the fire is step 3 (see #5 below for details). WARNING: Never leave the stove unattended like this. The wood will steam, which means it is drying. If you see smoke from the wood-- which is unlikely-- use tongs to turn the wood, or pick up the wood and put it into the fire.

3) Kindling is everything. Make enough kindling to fill a large washtub and store it indoors. Most pieces should be a finger thick. No pieces should be thicker than two or three fingers or longer than your forearm. Keep your kindling near a heating vent or set a fan blowing on 'low' on it and it'll be dry in a few days. When you take kindling, make kindling, wet or dry.

4) Desperate? Use your microwave to dry wood. If all you've got is wet kindling, the first time you do this, use your microwave to dry out your kindling. Set a towel down, lay a few pieces down, and put the timer on 1-2 minutes. The wood will steam. (It'll be hot so use tongs to take it out.) When it cools put it back in. Do that until you get no steam and then it's dry. If you get smoke, turn it off quick. Figure on making 40-50 pieces of dry kindling, if you've got no other dry wood at all.

5) How to build a fire to burn wet wood. Don't be proud: crumple newspaper or sheets of printer paper into a dozen or so fist-sized balls. Build a "teepee" around them with 3/4 of the dry kindling from #4. Stack wet wood around it in layers like this:  = II = II t form a little tower. Lay your biggest pieces of wet wood along the sides at the bottom. Lay your thinnest pieces of wet wood (no thicker than a wrist) across the top of the teepee where the fire will get hottest. Build the tower around the teepee as high as you have room to go. Then light your fire. The teepee will burn readily. The thin wet wood of the "tower" will be right in the flames of the teepee. It will steam, then smoke, then burn. (You may have to add the rest of the kindling to keep the fire going until the tower catches fire.) Once your tower is dry enough to burn it will start to smoke or even catch fire. Once it does, use tongs to take it down and add it to the "teepee". (Make sure the side of the wood that smoked or was burning is facing toward the fire when you put it on.) Meanwhile the wood you stacked on top of the stove in step #2 is drier. Build a new tower with it and make it drier still. Move wood from the side of the stove to the top of the stove. Keep repeating that process and you'll have a fire as long as you're willing to bother with it.  Note: This does not work with green wood, but it works with seasoned wood that is wet from rain or snow.

Now, If you bothered to read all of that: bravo. I learned most of it the hard way except for the microwave trick which I learned from my father. It kept me warm through many a cold afternoon.

what about lightning collection.  Where the hell are we on that one?

Um.. is that legal in the 'burbs?

Cus if so, I'm in!

We plan on doing solar if/when we buy this place. 

Solar panels I understand. I have thought about those myself, but at the moment it's just not worth it.

I don't really get the wood burning thing, though. Is that just because it is cheaper? Environmentally it is just about the worst thing you can do to generate heat. Wood is an inefficient fuel and burning wood is in no way "carbon neutral." (Natural) gas is much cleaner. Then there's the soot, which might not be all that bad if you hate your own and other people's lungs and is also a major contributor to climate change on top of the extra carbondioxide you emit by burning wood compared to gas.

If you live in a cabin in the woods your contribution might not be all that catastrophic but if everyone would stop using gas and burn wood in the usually colder climates of the (more) developed world that would be suicidal.

I am so glad you joined this group. 

I will admit outright, I'm a complete newb to living efficiently. 

My experience living in Thailand showed me just how much I don't need. 

I've still got a long way to go, when it comes to self sufficiency, though. 

Portland winters are mild in comparison to most places. We run our very inefficient climate control from about late October to late March. I never run the air conditioner unless I'm scared for my animals well-being. That accounts for maybe seven days total out of the year. 

Our house is larger than our needs, but since we are a multi-cultural family, we have a whole lot of visitors. We have a spare room (That's currently a poultry brooder and a beer fermentation room) and I have an office that can also be turned into a spare room when needed. 

Ideally, we'd like more out buildings instead of in-house rooms, but that will be far in the future. 

I'd love to buy this place, remodel it and then sell it. Use the money from the sale to buy a little place out in farm country, maybe. 

Until then, we are a bit limited, as we aren't the property owners. 

The actual owners give zero fucks about what we do here, though. We are great tenants and um.. not crackheads like the last family. They are cool with us doing pretty much whatever, as long as we can tear it down when/if we move. 

Our single rain barrel is more for Mr. Baytheist's homebrewing. We use it as a storage tank for the cooling waters, then move that into the poultry pond. (By 'pond' I mean small kiddy pool that my asshole ducks take turns in, as it can only really fit two at a time. Luckily the Muscovies don't care much for water...unless I'm the one in it.) 

I'd love to put in four more rain barrels and solar in the immediate future, but that's going to depend if we buy or not. Again, any guidance would be deeply appreciated.

I've heard stories like yours. Didn't Myth Busters do something on the wine explosions? I'm pretty sure they can be legitimately dangerous.

My husband is a mechanical engineer. He works for an industrial/medical gas company..high pressure we are both mixed gas blenders. (We are both rebreather and mixed gas divers.)That's a lot of potential for blowing shit up, right there. :) One wrong curve in an 02 whip, -even if it's just a microscopic flaw...and you're dead. Do not pass go. 

Don't get me wrong, we've had our share of messes. A shelf collapsed in one of the fermentation containers last year. A whole lot of product wasted on the floor. My dog thought he died and went to heaven! 

'Homebrewing might be a little misleading. We have six taps in our living room bar that are fed through glycol cooling lines. Besides the five C02 lines, we also run a nitro tap for proper stouts and porters.  His set up is fully electric, controlled by a custom made panel that he designed, himself. Like I said. We need more out buildings. He does 15 gallon batches at a time. Perfect for us.

His mate is the brewmaster for a very well known place, and he's been inquiring about this set up for his brewery for test batching. Bwahahahahahah! 

Oh, it is a religion for us :) 

We moved to Portland just for the beer. That was it. We got sick of the bay area and picked this location solely based on our favorite pastimes. The great outdoors and BEER! 

Then I discovered the wine country.....Muahahahahah!

My husband is Scottish. Drinking is very much a part of  our family life. Hell, it MAKES life. His parents are in their seventies and I honestly can't keep up with them. His mum will still be sipping a nice glass of chardonnay when I've tapped out for fear of a hangover.  The funny thing is, when it's a product you genuinely enjoy, you're not drinking to get drunk-hell, quite the opposite, most times. We have session beers with low alcohol content so you can sip and talk without getting shitfaced. 

Don't get me wrong, I was a party girl back in the day. Now? Well, I prefer a more.....mellow approach to life. 

Hey Halo.. have you tried Beano? :) 

It could be that masonry wood stoves are better than other wood stoves, but I do have to find that according to NESCAUM from the 10 million or so wood stoves used in the U.S. more than 3 out of 4 aren't even EPA certified. But even EPA certified stoves do emit plenty particulates and carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons even inside the homes. It is not for nothing that certain cities in the northern parts and Canada have burn bans or other rules in place to limit the use of wood stoves.

I live in a small, yet densely populated village and I know exactly which houses have wood stoves and how to adapt my route to work and cycle around the stink. I am kind of counting on the others to be more sensible because this shit is going to cost me too much time and these long winters are wearing down my tires.

I must admit you do sound persuasive, you almost got me looking for a place to build one.

I was thinking the same thing.


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