How can it be over eight years since we moved out to the farm? It feels like we should still be unpacking boxes. Shhh… Don’t tell anyone there is still a box or two of unknowns lingering in the corner of the basement. The last eight years on our farm have taught us many lessons about sustainable living and we’ve adjusted to many changes. We have expanded our garden every year, and it now occupies about one acre of our property. We freeze and preserve as much as we can and save the seeds from season to season so we can replant. We also have added animals to the farm, our Icelandic and Southdown Baby Doll Sheep, chickens and a cat named Daddy Cat (who’s really a mama cat).
Joe and I have learned to live without retail outlets close by, fast internet and even sometimes streaming TV shows. One thing we have not had to live without though, is a warm home. While we live in a house that is over 100 years old, we’ve been working to update our old farmhouse
with modern heating resources while also maintaining the charm and character of the house that we fell in love with.
How do you heat your home?
We relied on a wood-burning fireplace and boiler to warm the home. Luckily, when our place of employment would need to cut down a tree, we would get the wood for our stove. For those unfamiliar with a boiler, while furnaces rely on forced warm air to heat
dwellings, boilers use hot water or steam to raise temperatures in homes. We have since only had the fireplace and boiler to run on propane. We heat our home with three sources of energy: a propane fireplace, propane-powered boiler system and geothermal system. The boiler runs through all the old radiators in our home, efficiently heating our home when the temperature is too cold for the geothermal system to keep up. As we continue to make improvements to the house, we took advantage of tax credits that made adding a geothermal system to our home more affordable. It is important to us to have a home that is efficient and uses clean energy.
What are some other ways propane is used in our home?
There is nothing I love more in the winter, than our ritual of sitting by the propane fireplace finishing a glass of wine. The propane fireplace turns on with a switch, delivering the charm and heat of an actual wood burning fireplace, but without the soot and air-polluting emissions that
wood-burning fireplaces have. We also have a propane range in the kitchen. The kitchen is my happy place after work and on the weekends. I cook dinner for my family almost every night and on weekends; Friday and Sunday night meals at home are our favorite pastime. The heat on the burners is instant and the propane range emits 30% less CO 2 emissions than an electric range.
Why multiple sources of energy?
There are a handful of reasons why we use multiple sources of energy. Winters in Michigan hover around near zero temperatures at times. The geothermal system supplements our propane boiler by warming the home on days when the temperature is mild, and not as bitterly
cold. Then, on the bitterly cold days, the propane-powered boiler system efficiently warms our home. Having a diverse energy mix helps keep our old farmhouse more secure during the winter months. The diverse energy mix gives us added peace of mind.
Why propane and not natural gas?
Because our farm is located away from natural gas lines, getting a permit and having natural gas brought to us is neither feasible nor cost-effective. We have a large propane tank behind our home that lasts for quite a while when we are using it in tandem with our geothermal system. Having a propane tank on our property means we have adequate supply whenever we need it. We have a reoccurring delivery set up so we never have to worry about it running out. Joe and I are eager learners when it comes to changes we can make on our farm to ensure the land remains healthy and here for our son and generations to come. We feel good about propane because it’s a low-carbon, clean energy source. In 29 states, Michigan included, consuming one unit of electricity produces at least twice as many carbon dioxide emissions as consuming one unit of propane. Not to mention, about half of farms in the country trust propane as an energy source in their homes. Utilizing propane on the farm is an immediate way to make a positive impact on our environment.
How can I find out more information?
We plan on making this farm our forever home. As we take on renovation projects, we strive to ensure the house is beautiful and sustainable for years to come. Sneak peek on a project, this summer we will upgrade our windows to keep the hard-working propane heat inside the house. Old homes are a labor of love, and we are grateful for our propane heat for keeping us warm, fed and cozy.
For more information on how you can incorporate the use of propane and its benefits into your life, visit Propane.com (www.propane.com)
Thank you to the Propane Education & Research Council for sponsoring this post.
The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that provides leading propane safety and training programs and invests in research and development of new propane-powered technologies. PERC is operated and funded by the propane industry. For more information, visit Propane.com.