Are you striving to live a more self-sustained lifestyle? Do you feel as though your home is holding you back from accomplishing this goal?
It appears as though you have two choices. You can build a self-sustained home and start from scratch, or you can work towards improving the house you currently live in to be more self-sufficient.
Either way, you’ll need to incorporate critical ingredients to attain this goal. I want to share with you the absolute must-haves of self-sustaining homes.
From there, you can see which you can incorporate into your current home or future home plans. You can also get an idea of where this fits into your current budget.
Here’s what you need to know to enjoy a self-sustained home:
What are Self-Sustaining Homes?
A self-sustained home might sound like a noble idea, but are you feeling unsure about what self-sustained dwellings mean or look like in reality?
It’s simple. Self-sustained homes have a few requirements they must meet to be called ‘self-sustained.’ Here’s what they are:
1. Must be Built from Recycled Products
If you’re considering building a self-sustained home, it’s important to note the house should be made from recycled products. This could mean the home is built from renewable products, products which are locally sourced, or by upcycling others trash.
You should also consider natural homes such as cob homes or giving your self-sustained home a green roof. These both are natural options which put nature to work instead of adding more waste to landfills.
Take things one step further and consider using recycled items as insulation. Many people are using straw bales in their walls in the place of regular insulation. They do a great job at retaining heat and cold and are a natural product.
There are many ways to construct a greener, efficient home. It’ll take some research on what products you have available to you in your area.
But once you locate them, your home could only be a few ideas away from being your new reality.
2. Smaller Homes are More Self-Sufficient
As time has progressed, the national average family size has decreased. Yet, our desire for more extensive homes has increased.
If you’re considering building a self-sustaining home, you should know upfront smaller houses are easier to make self-sufficient.
The reason being, the larger the home, the more area you must heat and cool. It is also more which must be built. This requires more natural resources and with this comes added expenses.
Unless you have a large budget, this isn’t a reality most people can handle. It also defeats the purpose of being self-sustained since you’re willingly using more resources than what you need.
When contemplating your self-sufficient build, come to terms with the fact your home will be smaller.
3. Must Produce Energy
A self-sufficient home should be able to produce its own energy. You can accomplish this through solar power, wind power, or a mixture of the two.
Realize that this is going to be a long-term investment. Solar systems and wind systems are far from inexpensive.
Through my own experience of researching solar power for my home, current solar systems have a battery which is hooked into your home.
The solar panels produce energy from the sun. The battery is filled with enough energy to power your home for the day.
Excess energy generated is sold to your electric company for a credit on your bill. If you don’t produce enough energy for the day because of the weather, you can draw power from your electric company.
Keep in mind; you can be off-grid as well by installing a stand-alone solar system. There are many options for producing your own power.
4. Water Must Come from the Property
A self-sustained home should have its own water source on the property. Either you have a well on your property, or you could collect rainwater.
I have a well and love it. I have no water bill every month, and I know where my water is coming from.
However, you can collect rainwater and install a rainwater collection system. These systems consist of ways to collect and store rain.
You can attach gutters to the side of your home and have them feed large barrels. From there, the water should have a way to be pumped through the system to have decent water pressure.
You’ll need a filtration system to make the water safe to drink. You can use a solar heated hot water tank to warm the water for showers and washing clothes as well.
Keep in mind, every home has grey water. Most homes have a way for this water to be pumped out of the house and safely drained away from the property because it contains food particles, soap particles, and hair which slips down the drain while showering.
But with a rainwater collection system, you could install a system to recycle grey water too. It can be used to water your plants and filtered a third time to be used to flush the toilets in your home.
A self-sustained home will figure out how to use what it produces multiple times to reduce the amount of waste coming from the house.
5. Manage Their Waste
I mentioned grey water which leads us to the topic of waste. If you want to have a self-sustained home, you’ll have to figure out what to do about your waste.
You could have toilets hooked up to a septic system, and the water used is filtered grey water to flush the toilets.
However, you could also consider using a composting toilet. This is a toilet not hooked into a sewer system. You use the toilet, and the waste is separated where it can compost.
There are many ways to handle the waste a home produces in an eco-friendly manner.
6. Produce Their Own Food
A must for a self-sustained home is a way to produce the food for those who live in the house. If your goal is to build a self-sustaining home, you should consider including a greenhouse in your plan to produce food year round.
7. Must Have a Way to Provide Heat
Finally, a self-sustained home must have a way to provide its own heat. You can use traditional heating and air systems powered by solar or wind power.
However, I prefer an alternative heat source in my home because old-fashioned heat feels better to me. You can have your own alternative heat source by using a wood burning stove or by installing a water stove in your home.
The water stove uses small amounts of wood to pipe both heat and hot water through your home.
A wood stove is an excellent source of warmth and a second stove to cook on in the event something were to happen where your alternative power source failed you.
You can build a barrel woodstove inexpensively as well to use as a solid back up or extra warmth during the colder months.
The Pros and Cons of a Self-Sustained Home
As with anything, there are pros and cons to building a self-sustained home. The advantages are as follows:
- You’re able to live a self-sustained lifestyle and be prepared in case of a disaster which alters the lifestyle you’re currently accustomed to, even for only a short period of time. (I.e., natural disasters, etc.)
- Once your systems are in place and paid for, you should be able to live a bill-free lifestyle. This creates financial freedom for yourself and family.
There is only one main con to living in a self-sustained home. The upfront costs can be more than many people’s budgets can handle. It might take time to save and build this style of a house.
However, once you’ve achieved the ability to build, you’re on your way to be debt free and self-sustained.
How to Transform Your Current Home
I realize many people will read this and say, “This sounds amazing, but I don’t have the money, I’m not willing to move out of my current situation, and I guess this knocks me out of having a self-sustained home.”
I say to you, “Don’t give up!” I have been in your situation. My husband and I took an old, run-down home and turned it into a thriving, efficient home.
We were able to add wood heat, plant gardens, an orchard, a herb garden, add multiple greenhouses, have livestock, and produce most of our livestock’s food.
When it came time for us to move, we made a conscious decision to downsize our home. We couldn’t afford to build a new home which led us to look for a smaller home.
We found one which could accommodate our family without having wasted space. We also knew when we added an alternative power source, powering a smaller home would be more feasible than a larger home.
Our current home is on well water; we grow our own food, raise our own livestock, and produce our animals’ food on our property.
Granted, our home may not be built from strictly renewable resources, but it’s more self-sufficient than most.
If your current home is where you must stay for whatever reason, consider adding these items to your current living situation:
- A garden to produce food for your family
- Try to use less energy in your current situation
- Begin researching alternative energy sources for your home
- Add wood heat to your current living situation
- Add a small greenhouse to produce food
- Add a flock of chickens for both meat and eggs (Check your local rules about livestock. Chickens are usually accepted as long as they’re hens.)
- Collect rainwater around your property to water plants, animals, or wash with
There are many ways to lead a self-sustained life right where you are. You may have to consider ideas which are outside of the box, and you may have to save a while for larger self-sustaining purchases, but in the end, it’s worth it.
Not only are your becoming more self-sufficient, but in many cases, it can even add value to your home.
Whether you are looking to build a self-sustained home or make your current home more self-sufficient, these are the items you should look for first.
You may find more ways to make your current or future home more self-sufficient. Hopefully, this will give you a jumping off point because a self-sufficient lifestyle may require more work, but it’s also very rewarding.