Home Power Systems: Energy Efficiency and Conservation, by L.K.O.

(Note: This article is part of a series of feature articles about alternative / sustainable / renewable energy solutions for self-sufficiency. Previous related articles in SurvivalBlog that complement this one are “Home Inverter Comparison: Off Grid and Grid Tied” and Home Power Systems: Micro Hydro. Upcoming article topics in this Home Power Systems series will include: Photovoltaics, Batteries, Wind generators, Solar Water Distillers, Solar Ovens, and Solar Water Heating.) Overview of Energy Efficiency and Conservation : The First Step in a viable Home Power System The most recent article in this series, Home Power Systems: Micro Hydro, in a way …




Fire: Your Partner in Survival, by Pledger

Eons ago when people lived in caves, one of their most important tools was fire.  Its ability to keep them warm, cook food, provide light, and scare away predators was of the utmost importance.  Some kind of a societal upheaval may not necessarily mean returning to a stone age existence, but when the systems that keep our everyday life humming along go down, fire will once again have a huge impact on our ability to survive. This fact was brought home to my wife and me two winters ago, when a February blizzard knocked out the power to several counties.  …




Letter Re: Food Storage in the Southern United States

Sir: As a Central Texas Prepper, I have solved my food storage problem affordably, as follows: On my property there was an existing 20 foot by 24 foot sheetrock walled tool shed. I gutted this building and installed slabs of 8 inch styrofoam panels against interior walls. These blocks of foam were salvaged from floating docks on a local lake as most people were installing plastic floats under their docks. The styrofoam blocks were free for the taking..As the floats were used and had been in the water in some cases for years, they looked gross and smelled bad also. …




Do it Yourself Timber Harvesting, by SMJ

Wood is one of the most readily available materials for homestead construction projects and is also an important fuel source for many of us. I’ve always loved forests and trees, so I drew on my experiences growing up in Alaska and my work in the timber industry in Western Washington to write this post.  If you are lucky enough to own your own forest, I highly recommend the book A Landowner’s Guide to Managing Your Woods by Hansen/Seversen/Waterman.  This book will give you an excellent overview on how to keep your forest healthy and profitable, as well as giving you …




Letter Re: Swiss Fallout Shelter Specifications

Dear Mr Rawles: A follow-up to my last letter: Spiez is where the Swiss have their federal testing lab for Civil Defense.  The lab has an english version of its website.  At this link  your readers may acess the list of tested and aprooved components ( for CD shelters) and in a seperate document, the list of aprooval holders.  Interested readers can then with a search engine find the companies who make components of interest one of which is Lunor. This company also has an English version of their web site.  Readers can from there select blast doors, NBC filters,  valves etc.  Spiez …




Letter Re: Another Way to Protect Your Retreat, by E. E.

Hello, E.E.’s primary problem was not the insurance. It’s the design flaw and negligence that allows the small glitch to evolve to the full-scale catastrophe. Every trouble that can occur occurs. Every trouble that cannot occur occurs too. Firstly, the furnaces may fail – it’s quite normal. I have no idea about their model but I believe they should have and so have some security automation that stopped them due to some problem (electricity?), or the fuel supply failed. The first task to design should be “The stopped furnaces should not self-destruct”. How should it be done? I see at …




Buying a Used Wood Stove by Sid S.

Near the top of the List of Essentials is is keeping warm. One surefire way to do that is with a wood-burning heat stove. Wood stoves are reliable as a main source of heat or as backup but can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 new, so buying used is a practical way to go. Before you buy however, there are a few things you should know. First of all, you need a good, certified wood stove. Why certified? Because they use less than half the wood that the previous generation of wood stoves used, don’t exhaust clouds of unburned soot …




Letter Re: Fire – Your Partner in Survival

Jim:   D.P. ‘s article “Fire -Your Partner in Survival was very good!    I would like to add that firewood storage life depends greatly on the type of wood.  Oak and other similar types can be stored for well over 20 years with no problems. (Especially if split and covered with a quality tarp or stored in a woodshed with a good roof.) But in contrast, un-split white birch will start to rot in a single year. Poplar and some other species also degrade quickly.   D.P. is right on about the type of heater to use.  When I …




Letter Re: Upgrading Your House Window and Door Security

Mr. Rawles: Although filtered HVAC systems make for comfortable and healthy inside air quality, even the most efficient draw heavily on AC mains. Insulated airtight walls and windows reduce heat loss and in windy areas reduce dirt infiltration. I would never consider powering a cooling system with solar power but heater blower motors can be so powered. This works well for dual stage furnaces that switch from heat pump to natural gas or propane for emergency heat. Fireplaces are as old as houses but rather than just building any old firebox, I researched fireplace design. When building my ranch headquarters …




Trial by Snow, by Bill S.

To say we have had a mild winter here in Iowa is an understatement to say the least. That was until recently. It would be safe to say that with temperatures in the 50 degree range I have gotten a little complacent this winter. Like many who read SurvivalBlog I spend time watching the news and trying to keep an eye on the big picture. At least in this case it came at the expense of some of the details. Like everything in life I would like to remind myself as well as all my Brothers and Sisters out there …




A Wannabe Homesteader, by Brenda K.

Some of my long-time friends can’t believe me now.  I was definitely a “city girl,” but now I’m a “wannabe homesteader.”  We’re living in the country now and I’m having fun learning to do a lot of “new” things.  Some of these things are just ordinary, every-day chores for people who grew up on farms, but for me, it’s a whole new way of life.  I’ve really enjoyed making butter and yogurt from the fresh milk we buy from the local Amish.  The first day I bought a gallon of milk from them, I told them I’d never had fresh …




Three Letters Re: Some Thoughts on Burning Coal

Mr Rawles, To chime in on the “heat to electricity issue”: A Stirling engine or “hot air engine”), might be what Dale from Vermont is looking for.  There are not many commercially available – one company was making them in New Zealand before the earthquake, but a quick Google search has also revealed that they moved their manufacturing to Spain. There may be others.  According to their web site they haven’t yet resumed their ‘off-grid’ line of  engine production. They can be quite efficient, and run off any heat differential.  For example: Hot air temperature and a cold spring, or …




Letter Re: Some Thoughts on Burning Coal

Sir, Probably the biggest gap in our survival preparations at present is having a good source of energy if we have to stay underground for an extended period. If surface conditions are such that we cannot venture outside, then most likely there will be problems with our photovoltaic panels, solar water heater and hydropower, all of which are above ground. With currently available technology, propane seems to be the only reasonable solution to support heat, hot water, and electricity. Propane can be stored indefinitely and furnaces, stoves and generators that run on propane are readily available. However, storing enough propane …




Letter Re: Greenhouse Heating

Dear Jim, I was very interested to read about the heated greenhouse in this article. I wondered if people have also tried insulating a greenhouse and designing it to maximize solar gain? I’ve seen a design used in the Himalayas which allows them to grow vegetables throughout the year despite -25C conditions, designed by the charity GERES. I uses a UV-resistant polythene sloping roof facing south, high-mass insulated walls to store the sun’s heat and keep it in, some internal walls painted black and others white to help the solar gain, and finally a manually controller ventilation hatch – though …




Greenhouse Heating, by Inda Woods

We now have indoor plumbing and a Wal-Mart, along with the millions of acres of wooded wonderland. Some of our forests are so dense and vast that even the DNR officers have become lost. We are alive with moose, wolf, cougar and black bear, to name a few. My husband and I are in our mid 50s and bought our 40 acres of forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula 20 years ago. Can you believe it; we paid only $13,000 for our woods and small cabin? Back then, no one in his or her right mind wanted to live in this …