Do you dream of a homestead in the country where you can grow your own food and live closer to the earth? You don’t have to give up your goals of self-sufficient, eco-conscious living simply because your job keeps you in the city. With a little bit of space and the right tools, you can transform your city home into a productive urban homestead.
What is urban homesteading?
What do you imagine when you think of a homesteader? If you’re like most people, you picture a rural family growing vegetables, raising meat, and cultivating the traditional skills needed to live off the land. Homesteading has long been a popular choice among people who want to live a greener lifestyle away from the rat race, and it’s true that homesteading typically happens outside city boundaries. But that doesn’t mean it has to.
Urban homesteaders have learned that you don’t need acres to grow, can, and pickle your own food, to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, or to feel connected with the natural world. In fact, urban living is more conducive to eco-friendliness in many ways. When the things you need are nearby, you can bike and borrow instead of driving and buying to meet your everyday needs. You do, however, have to get creative in order to do a lot with a small amount of space.5 Tools for Your Urban Homestead
There’s no shortage of guides on planning a productive urban garden or keeping backyard chickens. However, growing your own food is only one side of homesteading. These are the other tools you need to make your urban home greener.
1. Solar panels
Energy independence is one of the top goals of urban homesteaders. Solar panels not only make your home greener, they also save money, meaning the investment eventually pays for itself. The investment may not be as big as you think either: In the past 10 years, solar installation costs have dropped 70 percent in the U.S. Until 2020, homeowners can also claim the Investment Tax Credit, which covers 30 percent of your final costs. California residents who are customers of certain utility companies are also eligible for a rebate.
2. Energy-efficient appliances
Energy-efficient appliances are a must if you want to avoid using more energy than you produce. Replace your refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, and dryer with Energy Star-certified appliances, opting for a fridge with a bottom or top freezer for greater energy efficiency. Tankless water heaters are energy-efficient alternatives to regular water heaters, but if yours isn’t yet due for replacement, turn the temperature down to 120-140 degrees to save energy.
3. Smart home technology
If you’re not ready to replace your home’s appliances, there’s another way to shrink your energy usage. Smart home devices like smart thermostats, lights, and power strips are a great way to reduce your home’s energy consumption during low-use times like overnight and midday when you’re at school and work.
4. Low-flow water fixtures
Did you know that your toilet uses nearly four gallons of water every time you flush? When you add up the bathroom trips for an entire family, that’s a lot of water down the drain. Low-flow fixtures reduce the amount of water that toilets, showers, and sinks use without sacrificing performance. If you’re handy, you can even install low-flow plumbing fixtures yourself to save money.
5. Secondhand apps and websites
It’s not just what you do at home that matters. Buying new clothing, furniture, and other everyday necessities comes with a big carbon footprint. Instead of hitting the stores, save money and help the planet by using apps and websites to find stuff secondhand. Buy Nothing Project is a great resource for scoring secondhand goods from neighbors. To expand your reach, use apps like LetGo, Facebook Marketplace, and Poshmark to buy and sell pre-loved items.
Turning your city home into an urban homestead isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a process that takes years of planning, growing, and tending, but you don’t have to wait to get started on your homesteading dreams. By adopting these eco-friendly technologies, you can make your urban home greener and get on the path toward self-reliant living.
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