Ed Essex

Ed Essex

Monday, 07 January 2013 00:00

More Winter Fresh Veggie Choices

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableIts 13F degrees outside and there is over 3’ of snow on our garden. We have plenty of canned vegetables from last summer but what about fresh greens?

We are new at all of this but each year we experiment a little more and try to expand on our fresh vegetable options.

We live off grid in a cold climate. That limits our options somewhat. If we had an insulated greenhouse it would have to be heated. We don’t have the electrical surplus to go towards an electric heater and don’t want to spend the money for an alternative heat source such as propane or kerosene or heating oil so we have turned to other options.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableLaurie had been using an EasyGreen Automatic Sprouter before we moved here. It is an electric appliance but it only takes about 22 watts of power to operate the mister for 15 minutes 8 times per day which is so minimal it just isn’t much of a factor even for us.

It comes with  multiple trays so you can grow a variety of fresh sprouts at the same time or you can stagger the trays by planting one tray on Monday, another on Tuesday etc so that you have a constant supply of a variety of sprouts. This is a great winter option for anyone but also for those of us producing our own power.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableAs some of you already know, when we built this house we added two experimental insulated cold frames to the south end of the house. We never got around to trying them out the first year but we had some success last spring when it was still cold – as low as 18F degrees.

This year we transplanted some cold weather plants from the garden in October and they are still thriving. The coldest it has been is 12F degrees. The picture shows spinach and swiss chard. There are even a few volunteer mushrooms in there!

The cold frames are attached to the house. That gives them one side that is always heated. The top is made of 8 mm (2 layers) poly-carbonate panels. This is the same material many greenhouses are made of. It seems to work pretty well. The idea is that during the day the sun will heat the plants and earth. There is enough heat there from the sun and at night the house, that it doesn’t freeze. We haven’t had much sun and the soil did freeze in one of the planters this winter but the plants are okay. You just need to make sure you plant “cold weather friendly” plants like spinach, chard, beets and beet greens, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Last late winter we did broccoli and cauliflower. They grew just fine but got too tall for these enclosures.

We sell a portable version of the insulated cold frame on our website Good ideas For Life for those of you who live in condos and apartments. If nothing else these units can extend a growing season two months earlier and two months later than usual.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableOur latest experiment involves a hydroponic garden. It is made in the USA. We have always avoided hydroponics because of the expense and the large amount of floor space required to keep them. Most hydroponics also require growing lights and that just isn’t conducive to solar generated power. This system is different in that it is a vertical space saver and it doesn’t require growing lights although they can be used of desired. This system has a pump but like the EasyGreen it takes almost no real power. It runs for two minutes at a time eight times per day and draws less than one amp.

Ours is currently located in a south window in the bedroom but that is the coldest part of the house this time of year. Still it is growing. Not as fast as we would like but I’m sure that is due to temperature which is 65F degrees and the shortest growing days of the year in Dec/Jan.

If it works we will sell these on our website Good Ideas for Life. We only sell products we use ourselves so that we know they will work.

We also have our chickens. Eggs are not plentiful in this cold weather but we are still getting a few eggs and they are mentioned here because most people can have a few hens even in the city with a small coop or chicken tractor.

We take the time to share these things with you because Laurie and I firmly believe in growing as much of your own food as possible while at the same time realizing how busy everyone is with day to day living.

It is kind of fun and we are excited about all of the new things  coming out that can help us grow our own food no matter where you live.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com  and Off Grid Works.

 
 
Sunday, 22 April 2012 00:00

How we grow winter food!

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableI think we have established in past blogs that sustainability is a good thing and anything you can do in that regard is good. One of the ways we have attempted to become more sustainable is to grow our own food. The advantages are obvious but it’s okay if we state the obvious over and over until all of us get it. Food safety and independence are two good reasons to grow your own food.

We had a pretty good size garden the first year we moved here and we canned food from the garden for the winter. This year I am going to build a storage bin in our garage to store root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. This past year we just put them in a box in the garage.

One whole wall of our garage is built out of concrete and is basically underground, much like a basement wall. The two ends of the garage are insulated and the other long wall is the living space from the house and therefore heated. The end result is that even though our temperatures can go below zero degrees Fahrenheit, the garage never freezes. It’s just like a root cellar.

I’m going to build triangular corner shelving out of plywood and wood framing and put a fairly large lip on the outside edge of the shelves to form a box to put sawdust and vegetables in. Even without sawdust, our potatoes at this time are just like they were coming out of the ground. Very few sprouts!

Between the new storage bins and canning, I think food storage is adequate for the year. Our garden produces June through September and we can easily grow enough vegetables to last us all year, but what about winter fresh veggies?

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableI had read an article in one of our garden magazines years ago about a guy in Wisconsin who claimed that if you attached a raised bed or planter to the side of the house, you could plant vegetables in the winter and they would not freeze so we just had to give it a try and the picture to the left is what we ended up with – insulated raised bed/cold frames.

They are attached to the south end of the house. The panels are insulated with double wall polycarbonate and the beds are completely filled with dirt. Neither of the beds is heated.

This was our first test this winter. It seems we had a lot of reasons why we didn’t get them planted until March but that’s what happened. Keep in mind that in March our temperatures were still in the low 20’s every day and several times even in the upper teens. I did check the dirt several times during the coldest months and it was never frozen.

The simple idea is that one side of the beds is the house which never freezes and in fact is heated. As long as you have the insulated panels on top amplifying the sun’s heat (when it shines) and are planting cold weather plants like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and other greens, you can grow vegetables in the winter.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableWorst case scenario is that we can extend our short growing season by four months. Instead of June thru September, we know we can go from March to end of October and I’m pretty sure that with a few tricks like these water filled black painted plastic jugs to help hold heat at night, we can do even better than eight months.

Sometimes the simplest ideas work and this is one of those. I know some of you have been doing this for many years but we haven’t and I can’t tell you how excited we are to be cold weather educated at this point. This next year we are going to have the garden, root cellar quality food storage, and cold weather growing ability to have fresh home grown vegetables almost all year long. That’s sustainability!

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com  and Off Grid Works.

 
Monday, 14 January 2013 00:00

Solar Tubes - Do They Work?

We have a lot of off grid design features in our house. One of those is solar tubes. Since they seem to generate so much interest with visitors I thought I would share what I know about them after using six of them for three years.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableSomeone mentioned solar tubes to me a few years ago. I had “sort of” heard about them but never really looked in to what they were. Solar tubes are a cylindrical version of a skylight. They have a plastic dome on top which sits on the roof of your home. The dome top is attached to a round polished tube which extends through your attic and ends at your ceiling. At the ceiling end you will find a diffuser or round lens which diffuses the light. Put a different way, light starts at the exposed dome above the roof and travels through the polished cylinder and ends at the diffuser. I have borrowed a picture from Google (shown to the right) to illustrate.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableTo start my research I called a salesman in a local glass company and asked about them. He thought they were a great product but he told me they worked so well that in one home they had to remove the solar tubes they had installed because they let too much light in. Apparently the owners were unhappy because the tubes let too much light in from vehicle headlights at night and they couldn’t sleep.

Let me put that and your main question to rest right here. Solar tubes work and work well and no, I’m pretty sure they won’t let so much light in at night that you won’t be able to sleep. I have no idea where he came up with that story but I did mention he was a salesman right?

We have six of them. We have one room that doesn’t have a window. It is a small bathroom. Without the solar tube you would have to turn a light on every single time you used the room. With the solar tube we don’t have to turn a light on any more than in any other room with a window. You only need a light at night. That’s how much light they let in. We also put one right over the stove in the kitchen, one right at the appliances in the laundry room, one over the desk I am writing my blog from and one each in Eds “hobby” room and Laurie’s “crafts” room.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableFor the most part, each of these areas can be used any day, rain or shine, without turning the lights on. They are in fact a miniature skylight but with a difference. Skylights are notoriously prone to leaking. These solar tubes are installed just like a common roof vent. They take up very little space and put out much more light than their size because light is amplified in the polished tube and then spread out via the end diffuser. The tubes can also be insulated.

We live in snow country. The solar tubes are always the first roof objects to appear after a fresh snow. There is enough heat loss in them to melt the snow but that being said I don’t believe we lose very much heat from them.

Over all I am glad we had them installed. In our opinion they are a must have for any home but especially an off grid home. I would guess they cut our daytime light fixture usage by about 90%. Thanks to the solar tubes we don’t have any dark corners or hallways or rooms we can’t use without turning on the lights. We confidently recommend them to anyone.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com  and Off Grid Works.

 
 
 
 
 
Monday, 14 May 2012 00:00

Prevent Water Damage

Unless you live in desert country, water is a pretty big factor in building decisions and techniques. I’m not talking about the water you drink, but rather the water that is sure to rain or snow on your house and property.

Roofs – One of the most important features of your home is the quality of roof. Shake, shingle, and metal are the most common types of roofs. There are a few BUR (built up roofs) using some kind of rubber type material or even asphalt mop down roofing, most commonly used on flat roofs.

As a commercial builder we put flat roofs on half of the buildings we built so I know it can be done successfully. That being said, I still don’t recommend them for houses, especially if you get a fair amount of snow in your area.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableSo you’ve researched the type roof you want to put on and it sheds water really well.  Now what? Most of the houses around here don’t have gutters. WRONG. It doesn’t matter how much snow you get, gutters can be put on to last in the snow country. This is our second year with gutters in snow country. I’ve had as much as 3’ of snow on my roof at any given time. Most of the time it slides off the metal roof. There is zero damage to my gutters so far. It can be done. We placed the gutters a little lower than usual so the ice goes over the top of them. We also used more fasteners than normal. My fasteners are 12” on center. As a side benefit, if you have flower beds next to your house, you won’t have tons of water running off your roof and flooding your planters and destroying flowers.

What’s the big deal you ask? Water, that’s what. One of the most important features of any home is to make sure you get any and all water away from the house. Water kills houses. Water is responsible for mold, mildew, rot, and flooding. Get the water away from the house.

Sooner or later that snow is going to melt and having all of it just pile up next to your foundation and walls isn’t the best situation. It also isn’t good for the rain to fall off your roof and splash water and dirt on your siding all year long. Gutters do double duty at our house. They help catch rain and snow melt and channel that water into a cistern. Every drop we catch is one less drop we have to pump from our well. We use the cistern water for the gardens and to water the horses.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableAnother common mistake some people make is to eliminate footing drains. Especially if the subsoil is clay. Most clays don’t absorb water so the ground water will go to the path of least resistance and that may be under your concrete floor or crawlspace. The other mistake made with footing drains is that some people put the drains on top of the footings. They need to go BESIDE the footings in order to work properly. Footing drains are made of perforated pipe. Water goes in the holes in the top of the pipe and back out the bottom holes. If the pipe is laid alongside the concrete footings it will eventually go into the ground away from your house and not into it. Also DO NOT use the footing drains as drain lines for your downspout drains. You need to have two sets of pipes running around your house. One set of perforated for the footing drains and the other is non perforated for your downspouts.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableThe last thing you can do to prevent water damage is to make sure the ground (surface) slopes away from your house. This past year we experienced some settlement along the back concrete garage wall. When the snow melted really fast it ponded in the new low settled area next to the wall and came into the garage through a crack in the concrete wall. The ground was frozen and all that snow melt had nowhere to go. It will always seek out the lowest point so you need to make sure that point is not toward your house but away from it. I just placed more soil in the low areas and even after a major rain storm I had no more leakage because all of the surface water now runs away from the house once again. And yes, my concrete wall is sealed on the outside from all ground water but in this case it ponded higher than all of our sealed wall surface and it got behind the vapor barrier and ran down the wall into a crack. Not anymore. Problem solved.

Water can be dealt with properly as long as you pay attention to these basic principles. Your home will look nicer, last longer, and be healthier if you do.

As I sit here writing, we’ve had another late snow storm. It’s melting fast, and my cisterns will be full again before I am finished writing this article.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com  and Off Grid Works.

 
 
Monday, 12 November 2012 00:00

Our Home Design Features Part 2

Our off grid home has many design features you don’t normally find in most houses. Many people come here to see what some of these features look like or how they operate.

This is the second installment of features. Part 1 was published last week. See Part 1

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableoff grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableInsulated cold frames – on the south side of the house we put in raised bed insulated cold frames. We have grown fresh cold weather type vegetables as cold as 18F with nothing to heat them but the sun. They are attached to the side of the house which never freezes.

Plug in switches – we have more wall switches than most homes. The extra switches turn our phantom power off when an appliance isn’t being used. Phantom power consists of things like the stereo and microwave clocks or anything else that shows lit up on a screen even though the appliance is turned off.

HRV – we have a whole house fan for fresh air that is configured to warm up the incoming cold air with the outgoing heated air. The result is semi heated fresh air which becomes pretty important in the winter months when we have to keep our house warm.

Tankless hot water heater – our hot water heater has a little generator in the supply line that lights the propane pilot light when the water is turned on.

Outdoor sink – we have a commercial food prep sink outside we can use during the months that aren’t freezing. It is great for cleaning the garden veggies, and cleaning fish and the chickens at butcher time. This sink helps keep all the mess outside. In the winter month we just drain the lines.

Outside generator/ pump switch - We added another switch and plug-in for pumping water from the carport. If I don’t want to use my solar power to run the 220V deep well pump I can hook my little portable generator to an outside plug in and flip the bypass switch and pump water from the carport. This comes in handy during the cloudy months. This won’t be such a big deal when we get our new pump which only uses 1/3 of the amperage to run as our existing pump but I will still have the option.

Cell phone system – there is no cell coverage here but we have managed to acquire a signal via a system of cell phone amplifiers and antennas.

Insulated curtains – Laurie made all new curtains for the house that are insulated to an R value of 5. That doesn’t seem like much until you close them during the cold months. You can feel the difference immediately. I believe they save us about two cords of wood each year.Sun Frost refrigerator – these refers are expensive but well worth the money if you are off grid. They don’t run near as often as a traditional refer. The reason is that they are well insulated and the compressor is located at the top of the refer instead of the bottom like all other conventional refers. Compressors put out heat. When they are located at the bottom of the appliance they warm it up which causes it to run in order to cool it back down. This is a ridiculously simple concept.

Energy Star appliances – the Energy Star label is almost worthless. Look at the electrical use in terms of watts or amperage to compare appliances when choosing which ones to buy. Even then it is tricky. Our dishwasher, vacuum, and chest freezer are the biggest electrical hogs.

Garage Temperature – we even have an unintended design feature in the garage. One side is underground 6’ and the other side is a heated wall from the house. The result is that it never freezes and is the perfect temperature for food storage I the winter. It’s just like a root cellar!

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com  and Off Grid Works.

 
 
 
 
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 00:00

Our Home Design Features Part 1

Our off grid home has many design features you don’t normally find in most houses. Many people come here to see what some of these features look like or how they operate. Since I seem to struggle with my memory more and more I thought it would be nice to list them out along with a little explanation of them. Most of them are explained in detail on prior Blogs.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableRoof overhangs – our eave length is calculated to keep the sun out of the windows in the summer which helps with natural cooling, and let the sun in during the colder winter months which helps with passive heating. Anyone can do the calculation. It is most important for the south side of the house.
 
off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableICF’S – the exterior walls are made out of Styrofoam concrete forms filled with concrete. The concrete is 8” thick. I personally recommend that if you go this route you need to use the icf’s that have more insulation on the outside form than on the inside, especially in colder climates.
 
Earthquake proof – because we chose to have a concrete slab and concrete walls it was relatively inexpensive to add enough rebar to make it possible to withstand a pretty good size earthquake. We’ve already had a 5+ on the Richter scale.
 
Fireproof – our exterior walls are layered with Hardiplank siding, then 2” of 3 hour fire treated icf, then 8” concrete and then 2” more 3 hour treated icf. Our roof is metal. Our soffits are also metal with tiny slots for venting. We also put metal ceilings on the exposed wood framing in the carport and front porch roofs. This makes our house virtually immune to forest fires. We got tested the very first year we moved in. We had zero repercussions.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableSolar tubes – these allow natural light where you wouldn’t normally have any. They greatly reduce the need for electrical lighting.

Water cisterns – we have three of them. They capture water off the roof of the house and barn and store it. We use the stored water for our garden (low pressure gravity flow) and to water the horses. We have been able to do both of those tasks for 11 months of the year without using our solar power to run the well pump for either of those tasks.

We have a three sided attached wood shed and a carport with two open sides and a garage with a large door. We put regular wall footings in the ground along the open sides of those two structures and at the garage door opening. In the future, if we want to, we can install a framed insulated wall in those openings and double the size of our house.

Masonry heater – our custom masonry heater only burns about five cords of wood each year to heat our home and we live at an elevation of 4200’. The winter temperatures get down below zero. It is extremely efficient at over 95%.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableoff grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableWood burning kitchen stove – we also have a custom built masonry kitchen stove with a 42” cook top that burns wood. We also use it to heat the house in the spring and fall when it is only mildly cold. When the stove isn’t already going we just use the regular propane stove to cook with and use the 42” cast iron top as counter space.

Solar power – we produce all of our own electricity with a photovoltaic solar power system with batteries and inverter. We also have a backup generator that runs about 100 hours per year when it clouds up for a period of time.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com  and Off Grid Works.

 
 
 
Sunday, 10 February 2013 00:00

Our Boneyard

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableOur family owned commercial construction company had a boneyard. We often worked in the refineries and every one of them had a boneyard. I’ve worked at other construction companies and each one of them had a boneyard. Here at our little homestead we also have a boneyard.

Whenever you do a home project you have to purchase materials. You always order as close to the perfect amount as you can but invariably there is a little bit left over. Maybe you only needed ½ a sheet of plywood but had to order a full sheet. What do you do with the left over sheet? You put it in your boneyard. Next time you need a small piece of plywood you don’t have to go to the store, you go to your boneyard.

I wasn’t always a big fan of the boneyard. In our construction business we did a lot of jobs every year and some of our people had a tendency to collect a lot of left over material. When a job was done you had to pay someone to sort through the left over materials – some to go back for a partial refund, some went to the dump, and the rest came back to our boneyard. We had to pay for the sorting and hauling and stacking in our yard. Then later we would have to pay someone to go out there and sort through a pile of lumber to get exactly what they needed and then stack it all back up again because what you needed was always on the bottom of the pile.

Some places like a refinery can afford to order all kinds of miscellaneous pipe and fittings and store them in their boneyard for future small projects and/or emergency repairs. Most of us don’t have that luxury to spend that kind of money and just have it sit there.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableWe didn’t have a boneyard while living in a condo. It just wouldn’t have been practical in a community like that. Well we have one now. We have an area set aside down by the barn with metal scraps and plastics, mostly left over fencing pieces.

We have another area where we store leftover dimensional lumber from the construction of our home.

In yet another covered area we have a stack of plywood pieces. We also have left over finished wood products in our attic storage room from the cabinet and wood trim installation.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableLaurie has her own boneyard. She loves to sew and over the years has accumulated A LOT of material. It is stored in plastic stackable containers. She almost never has to go to the fabric store. She uses the left over material for all kinds of small projects and quilts.

I built a finished kindling storage rack for our wood burning kitchen stove out of left over matching cabinet pieces; the desk and shelves we use for our business and computer; the shelf and coat storage rack in our “mud room”; complete storage racks in our storage room; shelving in our garage; chicken nest boxes and roosting racks, and numerous other small projects in both the house and barn, all without going to the local department store.

We cut the steel stake end off of a broken plastic temporary fence post and use it for staking rows in the garden. We’ve saved and reused both plastic and metal fence wire for splices when needed. Broken tools and handles get recycled one way or another. We have a huge stash of 5 gallon plastic buckets in our boneyard left over from the construction of our home. Mostly paint buckets. You can never have enough 5 gallon buckets. We have plastic pipe of all kinds left over as well. We have been using it for all kinds of things from repairs to temporary piping.

It is 23 miles one way to get to the nearest hardware store from here. The cost is currently $11.00 just for fuel to make that trip. By having a boneyard we have probably saved over 30 trips to the store the past few years. Not only did we save on fuel but we also saved on the materials! Now if I could just figure out how to get paid to sort through the pile………………

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website goodideasforlife.com and Off Grid Works.

 
 
 
 
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 00:00

Berkey Water Purifiers

 
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Tuesday, 28 May 2013 00:00

Home

WELCOME TO OFF GRID WORKS

 

This blog site is operated by Ed and Laurie Essex in Wauconda, WA. We created this site to share our experiences as they unfold in our transition from city condo life to off grid living in the mountains of Eastern Washington State.

Join us in a discussion about what works and what doesn’t in your daily choices for healthier living and greater self sufficiency. Share your stories about off grid living or things you are doing to reduce your environmental impact whether you are off grid or not.

Ask questions, offer advice or just enjoy reading what others have to say. Just click on Blog in the upper right corner of this page and choose a category you might be interested in.



Visit our website Good Ideas For Life where you will find products to help you become more self sufficient whether you live in the country or city, on acreage or in a condo. These products will help provide you with your own safe food and clean water and help prepare you for any emergency you and your family may face in these uncertain and trying times.

Our self sufficient products include Tattler reusable canning lids, Berkey water filters, indoor and outdoor gardening products, Mayday emergency kits, chicken coops, and much more. We use the products we sell.

 

***** WE'RE SELLING OUR OFF GRID HOME!*****

                                                             

 

View our listing here - CLICK HERE

If you have any questions about our house use the "Contact Us" form in the upper right hand corner of this page.

 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 00:00

About Us

How Off Grid Works Got Started

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableWe are Ed and Laurie Essex. Since you’ve wandered onto this page you must want to know about us and how Off Grid Works got started.

Ed comes from a retail and construction management background. Laurie is a licensed health care professional and certified horse trainer. We have been living in our 'more self sufficient' off grid homestead for four full years now. That’s a big change from condo life in the city!

Ed was asked to Blog for Mother Earth News E Magazine a couple of years ago about homestead lifestyle, off grid living, and self sufficiency. In the process we’ve met so many people interested in what we are doing that we decided to start this blog site to share our new self reliant experiences with anyone who’s interested and to give others a place to offer their ideas as well.

While we both enjoy a modern lifestyle, it just seems that in the pursuit of convenience we have lost our way in some respects. We have lost faith in our food sources and we are using more natural resources than we need to.

This is an exciting time of opportunity to change that. There are so many things we can do to make a difference for the planet and ourselves. We aren’t here to tell you how to live your life, but rather to offer ideas that may appeal to your values for living in the twenty-first century.

Sharing what we learned just seemed like a natural thing to do. You can make changes for the better, no matter where you live. We have done a lot of research the past few years and hope that some of these self sufficient ideas will benefit your everyday life choices. You don’t have to live off grid to enjoy many of these ideas.

Thank you for your interest, enjoy this site, and feel free to participate as much as you like.

Ed and Laurie Essex.

off grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainableoff grid, living off grid, self sufficient, homestead, sustainable

 
 
 
 
Page 8 of 9

Featured

  • Our Home Design Features Part 1

    Our off grid home has many design features you don’t normally find in most houses. Many people come here to see what some of these features look like or how they operate. Since I seem to struggle with my memory more and more I thought it would be nice to list them out along with a little explanation of them. Most of them are explained in detail on prior Blogs. Roof overhangs – our eave length is calculated to keep the sun out of the windows in the summer which helps with natural cooling, and let the sun in during Read More
  • Our Home Design Features Part 2

    Our off grid home has many design features you don’t normally find in most houses. Many people come here to see what some of these features look like or how they operate. This is the second installment of features. Part 1 was published last week. See Part 1 Insulated cold frames – on the south side of the house we put in raised bed insulated cold frames. We have grown fresh cold weather type vegetables as cold as 18F with nothing to heat them but the sun. They are attached to the side of the house which never freezes. Plug Read More
  • I Built My House for Extreme Weather

    I went to work in the family commercial construction company in the early 1980's and by the end of the decade had worked my way into the office as a project manager. Commercial construction is entirely different than residential construction. For one thing, everything is engineered - structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers all take a part in the design of commercial buildings. It wasn't long before I discovered the term "100 year storm". Many structural designs and mechanical designs were based on the 100 year storm (I'm over simplifying for the purpose of this article). Things like concrete foundation design and Read More
  • 1