Kristina Munroe PE
Greetings from Twisted Oak ~ a self-sustaining home I designed and built along with the help of my two children, a talented carpenter and a handful of colorful characters who answered the call. Together, we built a home that heats and cools itself, generates all our power, collects and heats household water, uses greywater to grow an indoor jungle and outdoor gardens, and manages waste as a resource.
I’m Kristina Munroe, an engineer, and author of Twisted Oak: A Journey to Create a Self-Sustaining Life and Home, a memoir that follows my family’s journey toward self-sustainability along with some technical inserts for good measure.
We decided to build our home with the proceeds from the sale of our conventional home. After losing most of my residential engineering projects to the mortgage crisis of 2008, it was imperative to me to have a financially, as well as environmentally sustainable home.
A less stressful and more abundant life has been our reward. I will always cherish the time I had with my kids while they were young and the freedom I have now to pursue meaningful work.
People often express their concern that sustainable homes are too expensive, too complicated, or that they could never live this way. I have seen many costly and complicated homes that claim to be sustainable, but this expense is unnecessary. My solution is keeping the household systems simple and designing only what our family truly needed. We live very comfortably in a 1460sf efficiently designed home. With a small 1.2kw solar photovoltaic (PV) system we have the luxury of watching movies on a flat screen tv, using the internet and our computers.
The house does not require any mechanical systems to heat or cool it. Only one small pump is necessary to push water into a pressure tank to supply the entire home with pressurized water. Our sinks and showers drain into and feed our indoor tropical garden as well as outside summer gardens. Using a composting toilet eliminated the need for an expensive septic system.
We have chosen to build a rammed-earth tire home off-the-grid, but any or all of these systems can be incorporated into many styles of homes either on the grid or off-grid, drastically reducing utility bills and our impact on the planet. Life is abundant and full, and we find ourselves more connected with our land and the rhythms of nature by living in a self-sustaining home.
Disclaimer: Your perfect home is a reflection of your family’s needs and lifestyle. Depending on your location - in a city, town, or far into the country - these systems may not be appropriate for every family or legal in your county.