The installation of our wood stove brought about a new need, firewood. The first round of wood we struggled to get to our house in the back of our jeep. It took about three trips to get the wood seen in the picture here to our house. That clearly was not very efficient, though the price (free) was right. Now that we had the wood we had to split it. After a few tries with our ax we realized that another tool was needed. Continue reading
Category Archives: Energy
Last summer we were researching alternate home heating solutions, well we settled on an option! We decided to go with a Jotul Wood Burning Cast-Iron Stove. We were able to pick up a floor model from a company that recently changed locations for a steep discount. We hooked it up through our existing fireplace and obtained a fire/heat resistant floor mat to place in front of the stove to keep our floor from melting.
Using firewood that we can obtain for free through websites like craigslist we have been able to use the stove to reduce our home heating costs. Unfortunately modern homes are not usually designed to be heated using stoves so the air movement is less than ideal, especially in a town-house. The result is that we still use our HVAC fan to circulate air, which does use electricity, though still much better than having to pay for heating gas. Continue reading
We are about to get new windows! We had a few replaced last year, and this year most of the rest. Here’s a picture of one of the windows we’re replacing:
So one of the benefits of being self-sufficient and doing things yourself is not being restricted by what’s available on the market. Last summer we hung up curtains in our living room. The curtains that matched our style and color scheme were pretty flimsy, though.
They weren’t lined, which we wanted. We bought them anyway, knowing that I could line them later. So ever since last summer, it’s been on my list to line the curtains. I have the capability to do that since I have a sewing machine, and know how to use it.
First, what to line them with? I know I wanted to line them with white fabric so it would reflect back the heat outside. George had the smart idea that it might be cheaper to buy sheets from a thrift store rather than buy fabric. So over the year we bought some sheets.
As I prepared to start this project, I ironed the curtains and the sheets.
It’s recommended before sewing any fabric that you iron it so it’s as straight as possible.
Initially, I had a problem with the sewing machine. The thread was getting all tangled by the bobbin. A quick internet search first suggested to make sure the machine was threaded correctly. It was, so I researched more to find other suggestions. The next was to clean the machine. So with George’s help, I took apart the bottom part of the machine and cleaned it thoroughly. That worked! The machine worked flawlessly after that.
Sewing the liner on the curtains took time, but it was easy once the sewing machine worked.
The curtains are much heavier with the liner, which makes them hang better. They are also much better at keeping out light and heat, which was the goal!
After receiving this wick material
and these wick tabs
I was anxious to start making candles!
Here at Independence Homestead we try to reuse as many materials as possible, so I had the idea that we could make candles in containers using repurposed glass food jars. We have quite the collection of baby food jars, salsa jars, pasta sauce jars, and more.
When melting wax for the candles, I read that it was important not to overheat the wax, so a double boiler was recommended. I realized since low heat was best, we should use our solar oven!
Our candles will be so environmentally friendly! The only new items in them will be the wick and tab, plus solar energy will be used to make them. Plus the beeswax is harvested from our own backyard!
Since our bees made some crooked comb, we had cut off that crooked comb, harvested what honey we could from it, and we still had a lot of comb left over.
We needed to melt down the beeswax in the comb so that we could use the wax for candles and other potential crafts. George did some research, and found that it was common to use solar ovens to do this. We had been wanting a solar oven for other reasons so it was a good opportunity to go ahead and build a solar oven!
Once the solar oven was built, we setup the wax purification system. According to George’s research, the way to get the beeswax from the comb and leave behind any impurities was to put the comb on top of a paper towel, which was held over a bowl half filled with water.
For a while now we have been wanting to build a solar oven. This summer we’ve made it happen!
First we did some research on solar ovens. There are several different configurations one can build. We went with a box cooker design. This is not the type of solar oven that gets the hottest, but it is the most hands-off in use. Other designs require frequent adjustment of the solar oven so that it faces the sun head-on. The solar oven we built works pretty well without us having to adjust it during the day.
This afternoon George and I had a discussion of whether or not to pursue solar energy options. First, let me explain what we see as two main solar energy options available to us at the moment.
The first would be a small, portable solar panel setup that we could set out on our deck when we needed it. It’s possible to make these for not too much money, like described here, or here‘s one for sale at Overstock.com: