Living a More Sustainable Life
Updated: Aug 14
We're not perfect, but we continually strive to live a more sustainable life.
We knew as soon as solar energy became affordable, we would sign up. The solar estimate for our previous home wasn't yet worth it to us. The house faced the wrong direction, had a tree on the south side, and right in the middle on the perfect side for panels was a dormer. We wouldn't be able to fit many panels, and they weren't going to get much sun. I watched as many neighbors and friends had solar installed and was incredibly jealous.
Moving to the country provided more options. Shortly after we received our first electrical bill, we had a signed contract for solar with Stateline Solar. To get the maximum solar exposure, we decided on a ground mount in the middle of our front yard. To us, it's also beautiful yard art.
A huge bonus of moving to Illinois is the state incentives for solar, Illinois Shines. Unlike the federal tax credit, it's not based on taxes and instead just on the amount of solar your system produces. Because of our size and location of the system, our estimated return from the program is over 40% of the cost - this is on top of the 30% federal tax credit!
When the solar was installed, the electrical meter at the house was also switched out. The readings rotate between what we use and what we've sent back to the grid. Currently we're doing well at staying ahead.
Heating with Wood
This is my first time living in the country and the bill to pay for propane up front was a bit of a sticker shock. Wes had the best idea ever - lets get a wood burning stove! Bonus, it also has a tax credit!
Wood stoves are a bit controversial. To help reduce particulates that contribute to air pollution, we purchased one with a catalyst. We're also not cutting down trees just to burn them - we have plenty already down in our 18 acres of timber. I can vouch for cutting and carrying wood being a great workout!
We went with the Ambiance Hipster 20 (a rebranded version the Hearthstone Green Mountain 60). We wanted a stove with a modern, sleek look and the soapstone lining was also appealing to help with retaining heat.
Once the stove was installed, our furnace only kicked on a few times in the coldest of days. In previous years we saved energy by setting our thermostat at 64 degrees. Sitting in front of a fire in an 80 degree room is a much better way to spend a cold winter day.
More Can Be Done
The past several years we've also actively aimed to leave our land better than we found it. Check back again to learn about our land and soil practices to improve what's under our feet.