Self-sufficient Heating of Your Home

It’s okay to not be completely self-sufficient. It isn’t always possible. The goal is to simply move forward. Otherwise we could get discouraged at how long it takes to reach our goals sometimes but over the years I’ve learned it isn’t reaching our goals that should be the focus but moving forward ever closer.

  • I’ve learned that life may never allow us to reach our end goal.
  • But forward movement always puts us in a better position than before.
  • So evaluate your situation and decide, what can I do today where I live?
  • How can I put myself in a better position to do more?

Our road to self-sufficiency in heating our house is a long one and we have not yet arrived though we have been traveling all of our married life. We are reaching retirement age and  we may never want to completely supply our fuel for heating because of aging bodies. Being able to because of knowledge, location, skills, and tools, affords us a choice. A huge sense of security so we will move forward.

Limitations of where we live, finances, and resources have all played a part in the stuttered journey toward heating our home ourselves. We are told solar and wind power are out of our reach because of high winds where our house sits limiting our options.

You may think “I live in the city. I can never be self-sufficient.” True, but you can at least take the first step, emergency preparedness.

With all of the extended power outages from natural disasters and the earth winding up for many more. It is wise that all of us do at least something to make ourselves less vulnerable. For a Christmas present years ago we gave our oldest daughter a small gas powered home heater as she was far from home and winter blizzards sometimes caused power outages. That was her step number one.

She had grown up with a coal/wood stove in the basement of our house and knew how to start a fire and maintain it so she had skills. Several rentals down the road afforded her a home with a wood stove. She brushed up on her skills and heated her home with scrap lumber and cast off wood piles people advertised for someone to just come haul away. She traded her car for a CRV and lined the back with plastic to haul small loads. That was her step-number two.

Now she has a small trailer that she can pull behind but has moved closer to home and presently has no stove. Still three steps closer to independence with skills, the change in vehicle, and trailer. She of course has the emergency heater. She is moving forward in saving to buy a house. One with a stove or the potential to install it.

Our journey has been different. At our first home we had access to free coal and we had a pickup truck so we put in a coal/wood stove. Then Kirk built a trailer. We could buy split wood from the honor farm, a low security correctional facility an hour and a half away.  Unless you wanted to twist grass and burn it, there just weren’t enough trees on the grasslands where we lived. Every two years I traveled in tandem with the neighbor to haul home wood as we’d bid on one 10 cord parcel and each took a half.  We were thus dependent on the wood and coal sources but independent for a period of two years time once purchased.  Step number two for us.

In our present home we have two wood stoves, one in the garage and one in the house so we can’t burn coal, though it is available. We do live near the mountains and ranches which always need trees cleared. We don’t have much for hardwoods here in the west, mainly pine which burns quickly and not nearly as hot so a few cord just won’t do it.

Without the time, funds, a log-splitter, and a better brake system on the trailer to go down off the steep mountain, we had to settle in our new location for hauling the outside layer of wood off the trees at the local lumber mill for the first four years. It is full of dirt and hard on chain saws. It is also time consuming to cut, but cheap and a fairly short distance drive to haul. It is our step number one at this location.  But during that time we bought a couple new chain saws in different sizes replacing our old one which steps us forward. We gained knowledge on how to cut slats more efficiently.  Kirk fashioned a chute with cut slits to put the slats in to make the task faster.

Five years later we now have a log-splitter and a semi load of logs which was hauled in for us. We plan on saving up for another semi load next year and that would give us a cushion  should we have a financial down turn, a physical injury, or the lack of time. That would be our emergency preparedness.


Our future goal is to replace our house wood stove and get a more efficient one along with replacing our ancient trailer. My goal is to not only learned to cut better with a chainsaw but learn how to start it and run it. Presently I just take it ready to go from my husband and hack away to give his back a break. Otherwise I’m running the log-splitter. Oh how I love my purchase. Yes, ever the researcher, I made the choice and purchase. Of course after a family conference.

Your journey may instead mean solar panels and or a wind generator. We are going to look further into it.

So ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my end goal?
  • What steps do I need to take to reach it?
  • What can I do right now to give myself a measure of security?

Then work. Don’t be discouraged. The turtle won the race, not the rabbit. It takes time, money, and experience to learn what is within our reach. Some may never be able to get much further than emergency preparedness but you can learn a great deal about fire starting with different materials, how to insulate an area in your home for greater warmth for your little emergency heater. Everyone can be self-sufficient to some measure even if it means you have needed extra quilts or sleeping bags.

Just take the first step and begin.

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