Alternative Systems

As part of living simply, we have built several alternative household systems to help us live more sustainably.

Domestic hot water.

Our water is heated by both solar and a convection system from the wood stove with electric back-up.

Solar panels on greenhouse.

3 sets of copper coils are heat exchangers in a 350 gallon tank in the greenhouse.

Tank in basement, has coils which exchange heat from glycol protected water from solar panels. Also has an electric back-up so there is always hot water.


Wood stove (which heats whole house and  is also used to cook & bake) with stainless steel water-jacket heats; water 3 seasons when stove is in use. Pipes from stove through brick thermal mass into storage tank.Copper storage tank also serves as thermal mass slowly giving off heat, as well as being a beautiful addition to the living room and a conversation piece!

The out door shower, a great way to use excess hot water.Stone base for shower.


Photovoltaic electricity 

5Kw solar panels on barn, supplies our power needs 9 months.  It is an inter-tie system with the electric company, but is designed to convert to battery storage when the price of batteries become more affordable.

Solar controls located inside barn.

Compost/mouldering toilet!

We strongly feel that flushing human “waste” is not only polluting, but is a real waste of nutrients.  We value this homestead resource which is a part of our efforts to close the nutrient loss loop.  We have a 2 chamber system which allows for 2-3 years of depositing in one bin, then switching to the second while the first moulders becoming a rich resource which we use in non-vegetable areas of the farm.  Check out the Humanure Handbook for details.

1 pint flush toilet delivers solids into active chamber.  Bidet used as a urin-diverter.Chamber which has mouldered 3 years and diminished in volume by half.Emptying a bin.Rich, compost  headed for the orchard.