Starting the process of homesteading happens in small steps; using a wood stove instead of gas, creating a small vegetable garden, etc. However, if you’re looking to make the jump to homesteading full-on, you might start with buying a piece of land with a house you can truly make your own.
Often this will be an older farmhouse that you can put renovations into that fit your homesteading needs. While you’ll have to make standard living remodels, here are a few ways to make sure your farmhouse renovation is also energy-efficient and meets your needs.
Exterior Farmhouse Renovations
Handling an exterior farmhouse remodel is one of the things you should think about first in order to keep your home warm during the colder months. Updates that improve energy efficiency will also cut expenses in the long run.
One thing to consider is insulation. It’s estimated that 98 million homes are inadequately insulated, so this is a great place to start. The most common types of insulation are loose-fill, blanket, and spray foam.
While you have options, spray foam is the most energy-efficient for an older farmhouse remodel.
Replacing old, leaky windows and doors is important to reduce drafts and your heating bill, but it’s also expensive. If you can’t afford to replace windows and doors now, weatherstripping will help keep the house warm in winter and cool in the summer by stopping drafts.
Solar panels on your roof can increase your energy independence. As long as you live somewhere with enough sun, these can help offset the costs of running your home and will reduce your carbon footprint simultaneously.
To keep it cost-efficient, and if you have the budget, install solar shingles. These are just as protective as normal shingles while doubling as a power source. Plus, these can be easily installed and removed if you plan on moving in the future too. Solar shingles cost a little bit more than solar panels but will be more secure over time. If it doesn’t fit the budget, consider installing just a handful on both sides of your roof, as they fit right in with a current shingled roof.
Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel
The kitchen is a space that uses a lot of energy. There are some key ways to reduce this, especially in an older farmhouse renovation. As long as the house you’ve purchased has good bones, there are a few easy ways to make this space more energy-efficient while meeting your needs.
Home appliances account for over 13% of energy usage in the home, so replacing your old ones with ENERGY STAR options can reduce energy usage. You’ll also have to consider what’s worth the time and effort. Do you need a dryer, or can you hang your clothes to dry? Is a dishwasher necessary? Keep the things that are important to you, and make the decision to get rid of the ones that aren’t.
If you can’t live without your appliances, you can swap them out with those that are more energy efficient. A convection oven is much more efficient than a conventional oven, and gas is more cost-effective than electric.
Energy-Star is a federal label that denotes the appliance consumes less energy and can save you between 10-15% in operating costs. In some cases, a swap can actually incur a rebate to help you not only save energy but save money.
A small update worth making for a farmhouse remodel is to your light fixtures. Compact fluorescent and LED bulbs will last longer and save you energy. While LED lights may seem like a harsh lighting option, there are now human-centric models that are easier on the eyes. Also consider having larger windows for natural light during the day to avoid overuse of the lights you currently have or will add to your home.
Farmhouse Bathroom Remodel
Farmhouse bathrooms tend to need a lot of work in older homes, as this is a place where plumbing and other features can naturally deteriorate over time. If you plan on making updates, this is a great place to start.
In order to be more energy-efficient when heating water for your shower a tankless water heater may be a good investment. They take up very little space and they typically use 30-50% less energy than tank units. Plus, the heated elements are only activated when the faucet is turned on.
If you have the ability to, an automatic faucet might be the way to go in order to save energy and costs in the long run. A great addition for the kitchen, this also works well in the bathroom, and you’ll keep your accents the same throughout the house.
Consider a low-flow model that can apply to your water-using fixtures. This can save up to 60% on water usage in the home over standard fixtures. Sidenote: just because it’s low flow, doesn’t mean less pressure. You’d be surprised, it might even provide a better shower after all!
If you plan on doing an entire farmhouse bathroom remodel, modernize your bathroom vanity with something more updated for looks, but energy-efficient behind the scenes.
Pick a vanity that can support a vessel or semi-recessed sink. This allows the sink to double as a mini washing station for dirty clothes, kids’ projects, etc. You can even install a sink that has the equivalent of a washboard on the side for a quick laundry solution.
Outdoor and Indoor Gardening
One of the most important things to consider is what you want out of your homestead. Do you want to become totally self-sufficient? Or, do you want to just focus on a few things, such as producing your own food?
Creating a home hydroponic system may be a good idea for year-round gardening indoors. You can grow herbs this way, but also some basic vegetables that may not survive well in outdoor conditions. Based on your climate, some produce may be better to grow than others.
Move beyond container gardening with the hydroponic system, or invest in a vertical garden if you don’t have a lot of surface area space. Carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes are just some examples of vegetables that can grow both indoors and outdoors.
These gardens will provide you with items you won’t have to purchase at grocery stores, which, when homesteading, are often miles away. They can also help reduce energy costs. You should also consider planting trees around your home to keep it cool during warmer months.
In order to keep the garden energy-efficient, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Using a soaker hose saves water because it’s not spraying into the air. Stick to the cooler parts of the days to water your garden, preferably in the morning before the sunlight kicks in.
To keep things all-natural, instead of using any pesticides for your plants to avoid bugs and other critters, marigold plants can help keep these at bay. Mulch will also help for water retention, especially on hotter days. You can also purchase Energy-Star-rated gardening equipment to keep every aspect of your garden green.
While farmhouse renovations can be challenging, as you tackle each project you’ll start to see a shift in energy costs and usage. By upgrading a few things, replacing items, and investing in some others, you’ll soon turn your old farmhouse into a modern homestead.
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