Living Off Grid – Heating

How To Heat Your Home While Living Off Grid


In this series of articles I have been looking at what it takes to live off grid – something many people aspire to.  To illustrate, I have been using the example of an Ontario couple who have been living off grid for 20 years.

Today I look at heating, because living off grid means finding a way to power the ‘energy hogs’ (heating and cooling, clothes dryers, cooking).

Due to their house design, they don’t need to expend much energy to cool their home, so from a cooling point of view, it’s relatively easy for them to live off grid.

Heating their home in winter (it can go down to -20F / -30c) is important and requires a lot of energy, so living off grid provided challenges for them.

Living Off Grid with a Cookstove or AgaInitially they used propane (bottled gas) for space and water heating  – but because it’s a non-renewable resource (a by-product of oil drilling and coal mining), they wanted to switch to something more eco-friendly.

Gradually they added more solar panels, got rid of the propane, and opted for a wood-burning stove.

Rather than finding an older refurbished unit, they installed an updated and airtight replica of grandma’s traditional wood cookstove, which includes a water heat-recovery unit. The cookstove can therefore do triple duty during the cooler months:

  1. heating the house
  2. cooking the food
  3. providing hot water

They use the microwave and electric convection oven for cooking during the summer months.


Next:  An eco-friendly cooking method that YOU can use at home or on holiday


Related articles:

Living Off Grid – passive house design

Living Off Grid – Water & Electricity

Living Off Grid – Cooking

Living Off Grid – Heating

Truly, how easy IS it to live off grid?






Photo Credit: mother earth news

14 comments… add one

Your thoughts and opinions are important to me! Do tell me in the comments below!

  • Dorie 10th November 2011, 9:59 PM

    That’s not just logic. That’s really sensible.

  • Kevin Bettencourt 5th November 2011, 5:12 AM

    I can’t believe this was the post I was a day late for. I had a wood fired stove growing up in Jersey and it heated the home pretty well.

  • Eva Palmer 4th November 2011, 5:12 PM

    Hi Clare!
    Here in Spain some people are heating their house intead of with wood with fire places that require shells from nuts. What do you think? are they eco-friendly?

    • Clare Delaney 4th November 2011, 5:42 PM

      Hi Eva,
      Good to know they’re being used in Spain! I was familiar with them in Africa, where nut shells (mostly peanuts and walnuts) are made into briquettes which can then be used in special burners for cooking. As long as they are waste products, I think they’re eco-friendly. If however, nuts are being grown specially for fuel, and so there’s more mono-cropping, and perhaps not also an increase in demand for nuts, then perhaps not. Do people buy special fireplaces in Spain, or just use normal ones? Thanks Eva, that’s very interesting!

  • Dennis Perry 4th November 2011, 6:24 AM

    Looking at that wood-burner reminds me of my grandmother’s house. A four-room house with no heat and no air conditioning. The only heat was a coal-burning pot belly stove in the main room and very heavy home-made quilts on the feather beds.


  • Sonya Lenzo 3rd November 2011, 6:33 PM

    I once bought a drafty old Victorian home in souh Minneapolis. The heating bills were horredous. Then we put in a Franklin fireplace. Besides looking charming, the heating bills went down dramatically!so in answer to someone’s question from yesterday, there are some ideas from this couple that could be used by folks in the city to reduce their utility bills without going completely off the grid!
    Sonya Lenzo

  • Reading body language of biting lips 3rd November 2011, 11:00 AM

    Clare, These are all things that I did not ever think of when lloking at living off grid.
    Scott Sylvan Bell

  • Michael D Walker 3rd November 2011, 9:56 AM

    My mom has used a wood burning stove the past 20 years and I kind of like them.


  • Cherie Miranda 3rd November 2011, 9:09 AM

    I honestly didn’t know that wood burning stoves could be used for so many things. Awesome!

    Cherie Miranda