Make Your Off-Grid Homestead Energy Efficient: How To Guide

If you want to make your homestead more energy-efficient and save on using precious solar energy, then you’ve found a guide made just for you.

Electricity isn’t exactly the easiest thing to acquire on a homestead, and it’s not easy to save power on a homestead if you’re not educated on the matter.

Many people, including myself, have not always paid much attention to how much power their home uses.

Sure, cutting out the lights when they’re not needed helps, but if you want to save some power, there are a few things that can make this easy for you.

I’m going to cover the essential factors to pay attention to, including heating, cooling, and appliances, to name a few.

Before we jump into the article, there isn’t a need to follow all of these recommendations; even if you do just a few of them, you’ll still notice a difference in power consumption.

Let’s jump into it now and learn how to make your home save as much energy as possible while potentially making your homestead look even better aesthetically.

How To Be Energy Efficient

1: Heating 

The main factor that will save you or break you is how much energy goes into heating. The best option is to use a wood burning stove, but let’s talk about electricity.

Many electric heaters, especially the larger ones, can use an excessive amount of electricity very quickly. 

I’ve used a few electric heaters that have quadrupled my power bill. This can be avoided by only using energy-efficient electric heaters, such as this heater

If you use an energy star central heating system, you can expect to save up to 10% every year. However, central heating isn’t recommended unless you have an excellent solar setup for your homestead.

2: Insulation

Any home without adequate insulation will have inferior temperature control, as wood just isn’t enough to keep the cold or heat out, or in for that matter. 

There are several types of insulation, such as Fiberglass, Cellulose, and Foam. Fiberglass is typically very inexpensive and provides decent results, but it’s nothing that’ll save you a crazy amount of money. 

Cellulose and Foam, on the other hand, is going to provide a much denser barrier between you and the outside, leading to power saving. 

You also have mineral wool, which is excellent insulation; plus, it’s fire-resistant. It is very pricey, though.

3: Fans

Fans come in all shapes and sizes. If you want to conserve energy, then consider installing a few ceiling fans. 

They’re perfect for times when it’s not quite hot enough for the air-conditioner, yet too hot for comfort. Several fans are incredibly energy-efficient, including this one

Plus, most fans can be switched in reverse to create a chilly backwind. 

If this is a little too much effort for you, though, perhaps consider a simple electric fan, which would help you avoid switching on the big boy.

4: Water Heater

Water heaters can be power consuming monsters, so having one that doesn’t use as much energy can save you significant power. 

They’re basically almost always activated continuously to keep the water hot, so the smart thing to do would be to install a tankless water heater

These only activate when water is being passed through, which is only on occasion. Plus, they provide instant hot water, since they’re most commonly placed near water outlets. 

They’re typically a little more expensive, but being much more power-efficient, the extra cost is certainly worth it.

5: Air-Conditioning 

Air-conditioning in a homestead can be tricky because, just like with heaters, air-conditioners can use a lot of power quickly. 

However, there are still many options that are power efficient for homesteaders. The best is the Tosot 10,000 BTU window unit, which is energy star approved. 

This pick is great because it’ll provide a ton of airflow, cooling down most areas quickly. 

It’s not a good idea to have it running 24 hours a day, but it should be plenty sufficient enough for most areas when used acutely. 

6: Thermostat

If you do elect to opt for central air-conditioning, then you should consider installing a smart thermostat. Regular thermostats are simple, as most of them have no more than a dial or two. 

However, a smart thermostat is going to offer several more features. For starters, many of them have a timer, meaning you can set the thermostat to cut off after a certain amount of time. 

Plus, some can turn on the air unit and can be activated by using the software, which means it’ll never need to be touched. 

I’ve had one of these in my previous home, and it cut my bill by three times, and I didn’t even notice it inside, which is a good thing.

7: Windows

Windows often fly under the radar when people attempt to conserve energy, but they’re just as crucial as the heaters and air-conditioners themselves in saving power. 

Most older homes have windows that have poor sealing. This causes drafts, which are often unnoticed because they’re so unnoticeable. 

These drafts, however, add up and will undoubtedly cause a temperature change inside. It’s not only the drafts, though; the actual glass plays a factor, too. 

Thin glass transfers outdoor temperature to the interior much more effortlessly than thicker glass does, or double and triple pane windows, which are incredible at avoiding this.

8: Lighting 

A prevalent yet super effective way of conserving energy is by installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Regular incandescent bulbs use a substantial amount of electricity. 

Switching to LED bulbs will save you a ton of energy. LED bulbs use, on average, 10 watts of power. However, regular incandescent bulbs use up to 100 watts, so the difference in wattage is huge.

You also have CFL bulbs, which essentially are the same as LED in terms of output, but they’re in-between the two, averaging at 40 watts. 

The only negative to CFL and LED bulbs are they may come off as unnatural in appearance, but this is certainly worth it, considering the huge savings in power usage.

9: Appliances

An important factor in power saving is the appliances in the home. Microwaves, for one, use a massive amount of energy. 

Some microwaves use so much power; it will dim the home’s lights by a noticeable amount. Other appliances such as the refrigerator can also be power-hungry because they have to be running at all times. 

All appliances can be replaced with power-saving ones, such as this Toshiba microwave, which has an eco mode. 

There are also energy-efficient refrigerators, like this Danby. Most older appliances do not have power saving in mind, so merely upgrading to newer appliances will save you a lot of power. 

10: Entertainment 

If you have any TVs, Wi-Fi routers, computers, or other entertainment devices, then these too can cost you power. 
While it may seem that these devices will not use an excessive amount of power, which is true, it’s still important to pay attention to this, as it will only add to the power usage. 
You should have an energy-star rated TV. a small, uncomplicated router without every bell and whistle, and perhaps even a smaller TV. To save power in terms of the computer, maybe consider switching over to a laptop instead of a desktop. 
Desktops have many more moving parts, such as fans that use power, and more often than not, desktops are not designed to be as energy-efficient as laptops since they do not rely on batteries.

11: Awnings

If you want to avoid the sun hitting your windows directly, perhaps add an awning to block the sunlight from your windows.

According to Energy.gov, awnings can reduce solar heat by up to 70% on average, making them a worthwhile addition.

Some awnings also can close, which can help reduce the amount of cold transfer to the interior of the homestead.

Plus, they make for great decorative pieces to any homestead, and in some cases, can provide added security depending on the type of awning that is installed.

12: Shade Trees

I’ve unintentionally used trade trees to my advantage for years; they can truly work magic in lowering power consumption.

If shade trees are placed near the homestead, they can block the sunlight from hitting the roof or windows directly. 

There isn’t a need for super tall trees, just as long as they’re wide and tall enough to shade the roof.

I’ve been on a roof several times; many of them were made from shingles, tin, and more. Roofs can get very hot, which can be avoided by merely relocating a tree on your property.


A Few More Tips

Consider An Energy Audit 

If you desire an expert opinion on how you can best improve the energy efficiency in your home, then call out an energy auditor.

They are trained to look for ways to improve a home’s efficiency and make recommendations according to what can be improved.

They’ll likely bring out a few devices, which are hooked up to different appliances to determine how much energy they use, which helps find the most power, hungry culprits.

Wash Clothes Manually 

I’ve opted for this a few times when living off-grid, and it certainly does the job just as well as a washing machine and dryer.

Washing machines use a pretty significant amount of electricity, but even more so, dryers, which use an astronomical amount of electricity.

Washing your clothes manually isn’t hard, but it’ll require a bit of elbow grease.

Install Skylights

Skylights are great to use if you want to save a bit of money on lighting. I had a skylight in my previous home, and it certainly provided a sufficient amount of light.

They’re not as expensive as you’d think, and one they are to be installed, they’ll add a charming aesthetic to your home.

The only negative is that skylights can let in heat and cold, but if they are double-paned, then it should not be a problem.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Power Will I Save?

This depends on various factors, like how many steps you’ve taken to save power. 

Appliances like ovens, microwaves, and heaters can make a significant difference in how much power you save, depending on how much power they use. 

If you only take a few steps, you’re not going to save much power. However, if you follow most of the advice here, you can expect to save up to 35% of what you’re currently using.

Which Factors Save The Most Power?

The factor that is going to save the most power is heating and cooling. These two are by far the most power-hungry appliances in a home, aside from the microwave.

Microwaves are also very power-hungry; as said before, they can dim the lights in a house, which is a clear sign that it’s pulling a ton of power.

Those top three should be a priority to switch out for a more energy-efficient version. The final is fiberglass, which will help keep the preferred temperature inside.

How Can I Be More Efficient With Water?

Power isn’t the only critical aspect to be efficient with on a homestead. Water is also something that you have to be careful with.

The best advice would be to install water-saving showerheads, which attempt to imitate large water output, yet use way less water.

You could also consider using your greywater for watering the crops because if you’re using rainwater caught by a rainwater harvesting system, watering the crops can quickly use it up.


Verdict

Homesteading is meant to be entirely self-sufficient, which means that any power must be sourced from within the homestead, most commonly via solar panels.

Solar panels typically forward the electricity to power banks, and this means that the batteries are at risk of losing their charging capabilities by being continuously drained.

If you invest in energy-efficient appliances and take steps to make your home maintain your preferred temperature, you’ll not only have more stored power but will save your battery banks.

I hope you’ve learned a few interesting methods to keep your home running efficiently; if you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to saving energy in no time.



Written by Bryan Rucker

Brian Rucker has spent his entire life participating in essentially all things homestead. He grew up on a homestead and helped his parents do the day-to-day. Read more of Bryan's articles.