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Sustainable Home Videos

Modern Conveniences in a Solar-Powered Home

If you’re thinking about building a solar-powered off-grid home or self-sustaining home, then you may be wondering what conveniences you may have to give up. Today,

I’m going to show you the electrical appliances and modern conveniences I’ve easily incorporated into our solar-powered off-grid home.

We built an off-grid, self-sustaining, solar-powered home that incorporates:

🌻 Water harvesting,
🌻 Uses passive solar design to heat and cool our house for free - with the sun,
🌻 Heats our water with the sun,
🌻 Generates clean, regenerative power with a small PV solar array,
🌻 Recycles our greywater to grow an indoor jungle,
🌻 And has a composting toilet so that we recycle our waste back into the earth.

Appliances I Willingly Left Behind When I Built My Solar Powered Off-Grid Home

I reveal the appliances that I willingly left behind when I designed and built my solar power, off-grid home nearly ten years ago.

 I raised my two young sons in our home we lovingly named Twisted Oak. And in all those years, I've never regretted creating a small, simple, and affordable home without needing a lot of electrical devices that would have driven up the cost of our solar PV system.

We love living closer to nature and reducing (not eliminating) electrical devices.

I carefully and consciously designed our home so that we do not rely on electricity for our comfort or safety. If we lose power, it's only a minor inconvenience.

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Budgeting to Build an Off-Grid or Sustainable Home

One of the most common questions I get is, “ What did it cost me to build Twisted Oak, my self sustaining, off-grid, solar-powered home?”

In this video I’ll answer that question with a question to you - What is your budget, and what can you build within that budget?

Whether you decide to build with a conventional loan or to build out of pocket, both paths start with a budget.

Rather than tell you what I spent to build an off-grid home in Colorado 10 years ago, I’m going to share with you a story about two people who chose two very different paths for budgeting and building their sustainable homes.

Then, you can decide which path is right for you.

The Biggest Mistakes People Make When Planning to Build an Off-Grid or Sustainable Home

Part 1 of 3

If you’re planning on building an off-grid or sustainable home, I bet you are really excited to get started. But, where do you start?

Should you start looking for land?
Should you hire an architect?
Should you decide on a floor plan?

If you aren’t sure of the first step to take - you aren’t alone.

Sustainable homes have special considerations that most people don’t understand. In fact, most architects and contractors don’t understand the basics of sustainable and off-grid homes.

Designing and building a this type of home is not necessarily difficult, but most people get frustrated and overwhelmed trying to figure out which step to take first.

Or they think they know how to start, but their first step ends up costing them thousands of dollars and a lot of frustration.

In this video series I’m going to let you in on the three most common and costly mistakes I see people make when they decide build an off-grid or sustainable home.

🌻 FREE PDF Download: The Six Essentials of a Sustainable Home Plus Bonus - the Before You Buy Property Checklist:https://www.sustainablehomeresource.com/SixEssentials

🌻 BOOK Twisted Oak: A Journey to Create a Self-Sustaining Life and homehttps://www.sustainablehomeresource.com/book

The Biggest Mistakes People Make When Planning to Build an Off-Grid or Sustainable Home

Part 2 of 3

In my last video, I talked about what you need to know before you purchase property for your sustainable home. One of the most costly mistakes people make is that they spend a large chunk of their budget buying land that won’t ever support the sustainable home they desire.

Just understanding some basic principles about sustainable design can set you on the path to finding the perfect property for a home that works for you.

In today’s video I’m going to tell you another costly mistake I see people make.

The Biggest Mistakes People Make When Planning to Build an Off-Grid or Sustainable Home

Part 3 of 3

In today’s video I’m going to tell you another costly mistake I see people make.

Sustainable Home Mistake #3 is settling on a house plan before understanding the sustainable features you want to incorporate into your home.

How Long Does it Take to Build a Tire Wall?

One of the most common conversations I have about our off-grid, rammed-earth tire home is how we built the entire back wall from discarded tires packed with dirt.

In this video I’m going to show you how we completed a 750 plus tire wall in 62 working days with just myself and my builder working full time and his wife helping us out part time.  And of course, occasional help and encouragement from my two kids and our dog, Lily.

[Part 1] Heating and Cooling for Free Using the Sun

If you want a sustainable or off-grid home, then your first design consideration is how you are going to heat and cool your home.

In this video I’m going to show you how you can create a home that can heat and cool itself - without pumps, fans, or switches. That means that depending on your location, and your determination, you can create a home that will eliminate or at the very least, drastically reduce your heating and cooling bills.

[Part 2] Heating and Cooling for Free Using Thermal Mass

The summer temperatures are starting to climb, but here at Twisted Oak, we’re as cool as cucumbers.

We incorporated a lot of thermal mass into this house, so as it heats up outside, we stay cool - no power required!

In this video I’m going to show you how you can use thermal mass along with the heat from the sun to create a home that will heat and cool itself - without pumps, fans, or switches.

That means that there is no need for an expensive heating or cooling system or a need to use any power.

Depending on your location, and your determination, you can create a home that will completely eliminate or at least drastically reduce your heating and cooling bills.

Thermal Mass Options

💻[Compressed Earth Block
 
🎬 Building with Earth Block
 
Rammed-Earth Tire
🎬 How Long Does it Take to Build a Tire Wall?
 
📘Earth Bag - Earthbag Building
by Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer

[Part 3] Heating and Cooling for Free Using Insulation

If your goal is to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, and lower or even eliminate your heating and cooling bills, then planning your heating and cooling system is your very first design decision.

Controlling how the sun’s heat interacts with your house, storing heat in the structure of the house using thermal mass, and retaining the heat using insulation are the three essential components in a passive solar home. And these three components must be considered as you design your home because it is the structure of the home, how it interact with the building site, and the materials it is constructed out that is the heating and cooling system.

In this video I’m going to focus on insulation, the third component of the of what I call the Solar Design Trinity. I’ll show you how it works along with thermal mass, and solar gain to heat and cool your home for free.

In this video I’m going to show you how insulation works along with thermal mass, and solar gain to heat and cool your home for free.

[Bonus Video] Heating and Cooling for Free Using the Ambient Temperature of the Earth

This video is a bonus video to show you how to super charge your passive solar heating and cooling. In this video I’m going to show you how using the ambient temperature of the earth will reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, and lower or even eliminate your heating and cooling bills.

That means that even if you lose power, your home will not freeze. Your pipes can’t freeze and your pets and plants will remain safe.

Summer Solstice ~ Off-Grid

7 Strategies to Build a Home without a Mortgage

In this video, I’m going to share with you Seven Strategies to create a mortgage-free and utility-free home and lifestyle.

More stuff to help you build a sustainable home of your dreams:

🌻 FREE PDF Download: The Six Essentials of a Sustainable Home Plus Bonus - the Before You Buy Property Checklist:
 
📘  BOOK Twisted Oak: A Journey to Create a Self-Sustaining Life and Home by Kristina Munroe PE
https://www.sustainablehomeresource.com/book

Rainwater Harvesting ~ A Tour of Our Home’s System

What if you could collect all the water you needed on the roof of your home?

Maybe you could eliminate the need for a costly well.

Or maybe you could say goodbye to that monthly water bill.

You could definitely eliminate the chemicals and additives that are added to our municipal water.

We collect almost all of the our household water on our roof and we live in a very arid climate where we only get about 12” of rain per year.

And in this video, I’m going to show you the Rainwater Harvesting System I incorporated into our off-grid, sustainable home.

Watch Our Sustainable Van Build Videos

 

Taking Off-Grid On the Road//EP 1 Off-Grid ProMaster Van Conversion

Join us as we reveal our latest off-grid project!

Come along on a short road trip as we unveil the project that will take our off-grid lifestyle even farther off the grid.

We’ve dreamed of traveling, but our Toyota Tacoma truck with small shell just wasn’t going to cut it for long trips with our beloved dogs.

So we’re converting a Ram Promaster 2500 Van into a tiny home for us to take our off-grid lifestyle on the road.

Getting ready to install the HEMP INSULATION//EP 2 Off-Grid ProMaster Van Conversion

We’ve been getting the van ready to install the hemp insulation that we drove to Salt Lake City, Utah to pick up.

We’ll tell you more about why we chose to buy and build out a van and get you caught up on the work we’ve done so far. Like cutting holes in the van, installing windows, and installing the EZ Cool on the inside.

We talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Promaster seats and how we’re working with them.

We talk about all the tasks that must be done before installing insulation and cover the walls.

Join us on our journey as we build out this van as sustainably as we can - right before your eyes.

STRESSED & OVERWHELMED // EP 3 OFF-GRID ProMaster Van Conversion

After hours of research and planning, we’re stressed and overwhelmed with our van build. We’ve regretted using spray insulation and trying to figure out what task comes first.

Join us during this crazy project as we take on building out a camper van in our typical sustainable, non-toxic, earth-friendly style.

Hemp Insulation ~ https://www.hempitecture.com/

A Little FRAMING and Some FUN//EP 4 OFF-GRID ProMaster Van Conversion

With several days of clouds and rain, Mother Nature gave us the perfect opportunity to take a break.

Because we live OFF-GRID, we can't run power tools when our power is low from a long stretch of cloudy and rainy weather.

So, we give a tutorial on installing framing using PlusNuts.

Then, it's time to head for the hills for a hike with the dogs.

We end up driving the San Juan Skyway - also known to us locals as The Loop. Buckle your seat belts and come along for the ride.

Starting the Finish Work//EP 5 OFF-GRID ProMaster Van Conversion

The framing is complete in our off-grid van conversion project!

So now we can get started with some of the more fun stuff - like installing the ceiling, the lights, and the hemp insulation.

We used Beetle-kill pine Tongue and Groove for the ceiling and finished it with a non-toxic oil finish that brings out the beautiful blue waves and knots in this sustainable wood.

Come along for the ride as we build an off-grid van off the grid

Virtual VAN TOUR and BUILDING STORAGE //EP 6 OFF-GRID ProMaster Van Conversion

Today we begin piecing together the 3-D puzzle that is the storage garage in our van.

We’ll show you exactly what we’re thinking and working on using a virtual computer model. And you’ll get to follow along as we build it.

You’ll get a complete virtual van tour so you can see where we’re headed with this build. I’ll show you the bed, the kitchen, and our unique kitchen table plan. We’ll show you the layout for our under-the-bed garage where we will store all the solar equipment, water tanks, and our toys.

First Night in our VAN ~ BUILDING the BED //EP 7 OFF-GRID ProMaster Van Conversion

We did it!

The bed is finished and we are headed out to sleep in our van for the first time.

Matt also finished the solar/electrical system and we have power to the fan.

Follow along as we build out our ProMaster Van and take our off-grid lifestyle on the road.

Installing the Upper Cabinets //EP 8 OFF-GRID ProMaster Van Conversion

We take another look at how we’re going to finish around the windows and we get started building and installing the upper cabinets along the full length of the living area of the van.

Check out our multi-use table design too.

Interrupting our Van Build to Hunt for Treasure//EP 9 OFF-GRID ProMaster Van Conversion

We’re interrupting our ProMaster Van Conversion to take you on a hunt for a special treasure. Today is Kristina’s parents 59th wedding anniversary and they want to find a special monument that they had visited over 30 or 40 years ago.

Come along on our adventure as we seek to find the intersection of four county lines, high in mountains of Colorado.

Installing Our Propex HS 2000 HEATER in the HEAT of Summer//EP 10 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

As a professional builder and engineer, we’re taking care to make our van conversion as sustainable as possible. We’re installing a very efficient Propex HS2000 heater and making sure that all of our finishes in the van our non-toxic, and safe for us and the environment.

Once the van conversion is complete and we begin traveling this fall and winter, we’ll be glad we have it.

Installing kitchen cabinets in a van//EP 11 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

Today we’re showing you how we went about building kitchen cabinets in a van. We show you how we built a slide out cabinet for a composting toilet and a clever way to build a floor to ceiling closet in a van.

Building Face Frames for the Cabinets in a van//EP 12 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

Our ProMaster Van conversion is moving right along.  Today we’re building the face frames for our upper and lower cabinets. And Kristina continues the arduous task of applying non-toxic finish to all the cabinets and woodwork.

Building Cabinet Doors in a Van//EP 13 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

Today we’re building the cabinet doors for the upper cabinets, the closet, and the clever pull-out compost toilet cabinet.

We get started installing the butcher block counter top and building our table that will use a Lagun swivel mount to make our kitchen table multi-functional.

Kristina continues applying non-toxic finishes to the cabinets and woodwork.

Van Build Reality //EP 14 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

Today we show you van build reality - how every installation affects everything in the van.

It’s hard to complete a single task without having to complete the necessary tasks ahead of it.

In spite of that, we complete the installation of our Dometic DC fridge,
install the Bosch mini water heater, install the thermostat for the Propex heater, and get the Lagun table mount installed.
(Stay tuned for our nifty tabletop and countertop designs)

 

Van Build Reset & Clever Countertop //EP 15 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

We’re taking a break today to reset.

We’re heading for the mountains to get some time in Nature.

Come along and we’ll share with you the flip-up countertop we’re building for the galley in our van.

(Stay tuned for installing the flooring and our nifty tabletop design).

Our Van Build is Coming Together //EP 16 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

Our Sustainable Van Build is coming together nicely, and we’re headed down the home stretch. Check out our Marmoleum flooring and backsplash, our flip-up counter top, and join us while we complete the upper kitchen cabinets, and the floor to ceiling closet. We show you our favorite part of the van - the incredible Lagun swivel table.

Our Van Build is Coming Together Part 2 //EP 17 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

We are headed into the home stretch. We’re continuing to see our ProMaster van build Coming together. In a couple of weeks, we’ll be hitting the road. Join us in this video to see how we complete the plumbing, the electrical, and the new Nature’s Head Composting Toilet.

And we'll show you the greywater garden in our off-grid home.

Installing Our Composting Toilet //EP 18 OFF-GRID, Sustainable ProMaster Van Conversion

Today we’re installing the composting toilet in our ProMaster Van. Matt’s designed a clever cabinet and drawer to store our Nature’s Head Toilet out of the way. Simply open the cabinet door and slide the toilet out to use.

Join us as we go through the details of installing the composting toilet in this practical, space-saving cabinet.