Where to start with improvement on new house with goal low footprint or off grit one day

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Meinecke, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. Meinecke

    Meinecke Well-Known Member

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    Hello...
    We are buying a house and since it has well/septic, we think the rest of the connections to the outside world should go too at some point in the future...
    But we are not so sure where to start...
    First thought was, checking and reducing electrical use where possible in sense full matter.
    Second thought was, Insulating the hack out of it, starting with Basement up...
    Third thought was, what would others suggest...
    So i think i will ask you guys for opinions and got from there...
    It is a small house of just 1100 sqft house and south facing open flat lot
    all utilities are electric
    And budget is tight...
    Where would you start?!
     
  2. mmoetc

    mmoetc Well-Known Member

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    If your local utilities do them request an energy audit. They'll come in and figure out where your house leaks and give you ideas on how to address them. Insulation and caulking are relatively inexpensive and easy. Window and door upgrades cost more but can have significant paybacks monetarily and comfort wise.

    Good luck.
     
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  3. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    Yup......That what my utility did when looking into grid tied solar array.
    Will also get you some idea of costs .......as well as your needs.

    Told me replace with good windows, insulation, more insulation....
    .
    Back-up for heating...we chose wood (have a woods)...many other options(pellets, propane, methane (self produced)...all have their advantages and disadvantages.
     
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  4. Meinecke

    Meinecke Well-Known Member

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    The house is coming with woodstove and we bring about two cords from old house...
    Will check with the energy audit...sound good...
     
  5. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    Often homes were built to a cookie-cutter design, then later a heating system was added. Other homes were designed specifically for a certain heating system. The difference is huge.

    We heat with wood. Homes in this region typically burn 12 to 15 cords of wood a year. We only burn 3 cords a year. We have friends who homes consume half a cord a year.

    Insulation is great, but, the design is often far more important.
     
  6. mreynolds

    mreynolds Well-Known Member

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    What Zone do you live in? If you live in Texas, AND you have an investor owned utility company for a line provider, I may can show you how to get an energy audit for free and reduced rate insulation.
     
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  7. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    We are with a Co-op...and yeah they came out to check it out.
    Also let me know how a grid tied system would work.......

    We are still in the insulation stage right now....did windows.
     
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  8. AmericanStand

    AmericanStand Well-Known Member

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    Can you get to bare walls or are you insulating a finished house ?
     
  9. wdcutrsdaughter

    wdcutrsdaughter Well-Known Member

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    Septic is not exactly disconnected from the outside world as you need to have it pumped by a septic company. Maybe you are aware of that. I mention it because we are not sure the folks we bought our house from were aware of that since the tank was REALLY full when we moved in and there were no records that it had been pumped, where as the chimney had records, the oil tank/boiler had records. They had passed away so we couldn't ask them.

    You'd need a composting toilet to avoid the outside world connection.

    :)
     
  10. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    Many septic systems go 40 years without requiring a pumping.
     
  11. Fishindude

    Fishindude Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Get the place well insulated and tight so it's easy to heat and keep cool.
    Heat with a woodstove.
    Drop stuff like phone land line, TV cable, internet, etc.
    Dry clothing on the clothes line.

    I would want to remain hooked to the electric grid as a power source for pumping your water, hot water, refrig / freezer air conditioning if you choose, and general lighting and electric needs. In most cases you could keep your electric bill very low just by using efficient fixtures and being mindful of your usage. You can live pretty darned cheap when your only monthly bill is the electric bill. You can buy a whole lot of electricity for what an adequate solar or wind generator install would cost.

    Might want to keep an LP cook stove? A 100# tank will last a long time it that's all it's used for and it won't be too costly to fill.
     
  12. mmoetc

    mmoetc Well-Known Member

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    My septic guy has told me about some of those 40 year tanks. Usually with the punch line of how much the bill was.
     
  13. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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  14. Robotron

    Robotron Well-Known Member

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    All of the recommendations sound good but the hard part will be the "grit" part.
     
  15. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    You need to define "septic"......
    In our area,... Wisconsin....Your area may be different.

    Septic system, means a digester tank (sized to the number of bedrooms) and distribution tank and and drain lines on in a location that has been "perked"....Checked and state permit issued.
    This depends on most all water to drain into the ground...from the drainfield.

    The only thing that may need pumping is the digester tank...ours is 700 gal.
    Note...Yes ....Sludge does need to get pumped once in awhile....been 11 years on ours.

    If you use the correct TP, don't flush tampax, disposable diapers and rubbers down....last a long time.

    Other systems are called a "Mound system"...that just fills up and need to get pumped regularly.
    This for area that don't have a "perk".......and are about double the money.

    So having a "perk: is a valuable asset you need to ask about, when buying and building.
    DD had a digester grinder pump... in Louisiana .....and a sprinkler system....waters the lawn with digested water.

    Composting toilets are great....have used the sawdust toilet and compost bin for 20 years.
    Still use on up stairs in the loft even though the plumbing has been operational since 2006.
    I would recommend them to anyone....
     
  16. wdcutrsdaughter

    wdcutrsdaughter Well-Known Member

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    yes, I am talking about the digester tank - when ours was pumped, the guy recommended he come back in 3 years, that will be next spring, I am curious to see if we can go longer.

    As for your recommendation of composting toilets- can you give my hubby a call ? haha just kidding, but he really doesn't understand why I want one. I just think long term, it would be nice to have the option! ( I am a little bit of a debbie downer when thinking of the future)
     
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  17. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    One has to take a some of the "recommendations" with a grain of salt.....
    He may saying that he can come by and possibility make some easy money...every three years.

    If you are the person that has all your vehicles serviced every 3K, do furnace clean and check every 6 months do regular Dr appointments....you may want to follow that advice....
    Many people are in the "As needed" school of thought......
    Not saying any of the above is good or bad.....just 'IS"

    The only down side of the bucket w/sawdust, compost bin type of composting toilet...is the need for a separate compost bin....to bump buckets in for composting.
    I have 16 acres ...so not a concern.
    'Been using one for quite a while.
    Check out the "Humanure Handbook"

    If you are talking commercial composting systems....can't speak to that....I just know they are spendy.
     
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