Monday, February 1, 2016

How to Build an Eco-friendly House

If you are building a new house, you may be concerned with a lot of things, such as maximizing floor space and minimizing noise, but the latest architectural trend is making sure that new buildings are environmentally friendly. In fact, new houses in many areas actually have to meet certain environmental criteria. Even if you do not need your house to check any boxes, then you may still want to consider building in some of these features to help to make your home more environmentally friendly. Many of these tips are also low cost, so you won’t have to blow your budget in order to save the Earth.

Building Materials

Carefully consider what you will use as a building material for your new home. Locally sourced materials are best, because they have fewer road miles attached to them. Alternatively, choose materials which have been upcycled and would otherwise have been destined for the scrap yard. Wood is a good choice for an eco-home, but make sure that it comes from a sustainable source if you cannot get hold of reclaimed wood. Contrary to popular belief, properly installed wooden framed windows can actually be better insulators than their uPVC counterparts, and they last much longer as well.

 

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Proper Insulation

Countless units of energy are lost from homes without proper insulation. Many homeowners are not only heating their homes, but they are also heating up the area around their homes too. This means that during cold periods, they are forced to spend a fortune on their heating bills. Scrimping on insulation during the building process will lead to extra spending on your energy bills. The type of insulation that you will require can very much depend on the climate that you live in and what other design ideas you have. If you live in a cold place, it is worth investing in loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and double glazing. There are plenty of natural and recycled materials which can be used for insulation. Alternatively, properly fitted turf roofs are excellent for keeping the heat in.

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Energy

You are going to need energy to power the appliances in your home, unless you are planning on living gadget-free. Whilst it is a shrewd move to connect your new home up to the national powergrid in case of emergencies, it is possible to power your home entirely using localized renewable energy generation devices. If you live in a sunny area, solar cells are a brilliant investment. The location of your home will dictate which way you need to face your solar panels for maximum effect. Depending on your climate, you can support or replace solar panels with wind turbines. Whilst some people think of turbines as unsightly, clever design techniques can help to make them seem really integrated into the style of the home. If you have built your home near a flowing water supply, you may even be able to take advantage of micro-hydro generation sources, for example a water wheel. The force of the water turns the wheel, which generates energy.

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Saving Water

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There is a range of water saving devices to place around your home to save water. If you live in an area where it rains a lot, buy a rainwater butt to collect water when it rains. You can use this water to water your plants, rather than using expensive tap water from the mains. If you cannot afford a special eco-toilet, reduce the water waste which is associated with using a standard toilet by adding a water saver to the cistern. Most of the water that floods into the pan when you flush a normal toilet is unnecessary, so reducing the amount of water that you flush will have a positive environmental impact and will reduce your water bills. Anything that takes up space in your cistern will reduce the flush level.  The same can be said of showers; whilst showering is far more eco-friendly that bathing is, if you install a power shower then you may be undoing all of your good work. An aeration or low flow shower head will spray out enough water to keep you clean, but not so much that it becomes wasteful.

Small Eco Houses: Living Green in Style
Shipping Container Living: A Guide on How to Successfully Build an Eco-Friendly Shipping Container Home, Including Interior Design Tips and Tricks (Shipping … Small House, Tiny House, Eco Friendly)
Off Grid Living: The Unique Step by Step Guide on How to Successfully Live off the Grid (Off Grid Living Tips, Generating own energy and water, Financial … eco friendly living, healthy living)

 

Monday, January 18, 2016

How to Homestead

Ever since the days of the early European settlers in America, homesteading has been an integral part of American life. Because the idea was originally used to help to populate the country and lay claim to the wild frontiers, the popularity of homesteading waned in the early-Twentieth century. However, homesteading has now taken on a whole new meaning and has regained its popularity in many states.

What is Homesteading?

In the twenty-first century, homesteading has now changed to represent a type of self-sufficient lifestyle which involves (almost) no reliance on outside organizations for food, clothing, property maintenance and many other aspects of home and lifestyle. This builds on a philosophical idea that to have true ownership of your lifestyle and property, then you should earn this ownership by laboring. Many people believe that living independently from the government or the economy will help them to maintain stability if there is a national crisis. Despite their attempts at self-sufficiency, most modern homesteaders choose to maintain a positive relationship with the wider community. This means that it is technically possible to “homestead” in urban areas, so it is not necessary to move out to the wilderness if you wish to homestead.



How to Begin Homesteading

One of the first things that you will need to do is to start to gather necessary tools together. These are the things that you will use to make and mend your clothes, home and garden. When you first consider homesteading, it is best to just get the basic tools until you get used to what you are doing. You will soon learn what tools you might need to get in future. By this point in time, some homesteaders are actually able to make many of the tools that they need. You should also find and plant your patch of land. Most homesteaders live next to the land that they plan to “farm”, but some urban dwellers are forced to get a piece of land elsewhere, such as a community garden. Where ever you start cultivating, make sure that you have the permissions which are required to allow you to grow vegetables according to local regulations. Growing food from scratch can take a long time, so don’t expect to become self-sufficient straight away.



Reusing Items

As you progress down the homesteading road, you will find that you need to purchase fewer items every week. You will soon work out that many of the items that you thought were spent can actually be reused or repurposed as something else around the home. For example, the fabric from clothes which are no longer fit for purpose can be cut up and made into a patchwork blanket. Alternatively, you can use rags as cleaning products or an insulation material. As well as being great for cooking, baking soda is fantastic for use in homemade cleaning products. These are just a few suggestions for a couple of products. You will soon realize that almost every product has an alternative use.



Energy Generation

“Living off the grid” does not mean that you have to completely eschew all electronic gadgets and move back to the time of the early settlers. Modern homesteaders often turn to alternative energy sources to provide the electricity that they need to power their gadgets, kitchen equipment and heating systems. The alternative method of energy generation which will be best for you will often depend on where in the world that you live. Many homesteaders also combine two or more energy generation techniques to help them to produce enough power to support their lifestyle choices. If you live in a sunny climate, solar cells can easily produce enough power to support your needs. Alternatively, wind turbines are an excellent choice if you live in an area which is exposed to the wind.  If you are lucky enough to live near to a flowing water source, you can also install a water wheel which will generate power as it turns. Biomass boilers can generate heat by burning organic matter (wood, garden waste) which is left over from your home. These are just a few of the alternative ways that people get heat, power and hot water as part of their homestead lifestyle.

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

   

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Main Benefits of Solar Garden Lights

If you have a garden, yard or outdoor space at your home then it may be worthwhile for you to invest in a set of solar garden lights. These lights offer multiple benefits for users, and are recommended for people who want an eco-friendly alternative to electric lighting. They offer many of the same benefits that electric lights offer, from providing light after dark, through to helping to protect your property once night has fallen, but they also offer a few additional benefits. Here are a few of the main benefits of solar garden lights.

Cost

The big draw of solar garden lights is that they are much less expensive for most people than wired lights would be. Putting wired lights into a garden can cost a lot of money because of the additional safety features which are needed to protect electric lights from extreme weather. There is also the additional cost and upheaval of having to lay electric wires. For a large garden, it is even more expensive to lay these wires. Because solar garden lights do not need to be wired up, nor installed by a professional electrician, it is possible to save a lot of money on these costs. Lastly, they will also save you a lot of money on your electric bill, compared to if you were to use lights which relied on mains electricity.

The Main Benefits of Solar Garden Lights

Flexibility

The majority of solar garden lights that are available are very easy to move from place to place, because they are not wired in. This means that you can move them around your garden to shed light on different areas as required. So, if you are having a party one day, you can move them nearer to the patio to illuminate your entertainment space, and then move them back down to a different area of the garden the next day. You can also take them with you very easily when you move house, so you will be able to brighten up your new garden just as easily. On the downside, solar powered lights are only normally able to provide about 8 to 10 hours of illumination after the light of day has faded. Nonetheless, this is normally more than enough hours of light for people who are planning on spending time in their garden after dark.

The Main Benefits of Solar Garden Lights1

Safer

Because they are not wired in to mains electricity, they are much safer than other types of lights. If you have children, solar lights are advisable because there will be no wires or cords for them to pull on whilst they are out playing in the garden. You will also have less to worry about when you are outside digging in the garden, because you are not at risk of cutting through the wires with a spade, or slicing through them with secateurs. In addition to this, solar powered lights are also far less likely to cause a fire than electric lights are.

The Main Benefits of Solar Garden Lights2

Environmentally Friendly

If you are a garden lover, then the chances are that you will care about the environment as well. The brilliant thing about using solar a powered light in your garden is that the energy which is used comes from a renewable energy source and that no harmful emissions are created when solar energy is utilised. Therefore, choosing solar powered garden lights instead of electrical ones is a great way to lower your carbon footprint.

The Main Benefits of Solar Garden Lights3

Range

Solar power lights come in a huge range of different styles, from those with a classic appearance to those with a more contemporary style of design. Whatever your personal tastes, you are sure to be able to find a design of solar powered garden light that appeals to you. It is even possible to buy bespoke solar powered lights from some places, although these are likely to cost a lot more than lights which come from the standard range.

The Main Benefits of Solar Garden Lights4

Easy to Maintain

Because they are not wired up to the mains, solar powered lights are very easy to clean and maintain. Although you should still take special safety precautions when you are cleaning any type of lighting, there are fewer concerns with these styles of light. For example, you won’t have to bother maintaining wire or fuses on this type of lighting.

Moonrays 91381 Payton Solar LED Plastic Path Light, 2X-Brighter, 8-Pack, Black
InnoGear MT-057 2-in-1 200 Lumens Solar Powered LED Landscape Lighting Waterproof Outdoor Spotlight Wall Light, Pack of 2
GardenJoy Solar Powered LED Garden Lights, Black, Set of 10
Swiftly Done Bright Solar Power Outdoor LED Light No Tools Required Peel and Stick Motion Activated
White Sun Power Smart LED Solar Gutter Night Utility Security Light for indoor outdoor permanent or portable for any house, fence, garden, garage, shed, walkways, stairs – anywhere safety lite.

 

Friday, January 1, 2016

How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife

If you enjoy spending time in the outdoors, you should make sure that you invest in a good quality pocket knife. In fact, when you are out in the wild, having the right pocket knife can actually be the difference between life and death! Survival knives can be used for building shelter, food preparation, cutting firewood, opening tins, making fire, first aid treatments, and fashioning other tools. If you are buying a new survival knife then you should think long and hard before you make your purchase, because survival knives come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Here is some advice on finding the best pocket knife for your needs.

Functionality

The survival knife which will best suit your needs best will actually depend on what type of functionality you are looking for. Survival knives come in basic knife form, or multi-purpose knife form, which include a range of different tools. Basic survival knives are lightweight and normally just include a handle and a blade. There are generalist multi-purpose knives available and a range of specialist multi-purpose knives available. A generalist knife will normally include a few different tools which will help you out with a range of different tasks. This may include tools like knives, scissors, a screwdriver and some tweezers. The most basic survival knives will only come with 2 or 3 tools, whereas the most elaborate generalist knives can have 20-30 different tools on them. If you know exactly what you need the knife for, then you can invest in a specialist survival knife. For example, a fisherman’s survival knife may include all of the basic tools that you need to prepare your fishing equipment, and then clean/prepare the fish for cooking once it has been caught.

knife

Folding or Fixed Blade?

When you are buying a survival knife, you will have to choose between a folding knife and a fixed blade one. A fixed blade knife does not have a hinge on it, and is therefore less likely to break into two. It you put too much force on a folding knife, or if you excerpt force on it in the wrong direction, then it is possible that the knife could snap shut. This can be dangerous. If you choose a fixed blade knife, you will need to decide what “tang” you are looking for. A full tang blade is one where the metal of the blade extends all of the way through the handle. A partial tang blade is one where the blade only extends part of the way through handle. Partial tang blades are weaker than full tang blades. However, folding knives are much easier to carry around with you in your pack or pocket. A fixed-blade knife must be carried in a special sheath to ensure that it is safe.

How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife

Size

When you are considering what size of knife to buy, you should consider what you intend to use it for. Smaller knives are easier to carry and are better for tasks that require precision, such as whittling or skinning game. Larger knives are much better for demanding tasks such as batoning or chopping wood, but they are also much harder to carry with you when you are out in the wild.

How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife1

Straight Edge or Serrated Edge?

Once again, the type of knife edge that you choose will depend on what you intend to use it for. It is possible to buy folding knives which have 1 straight edge blade and 1 serrated edge blade. It is also possible to buy blades were a section is serrated,
although many survival specialists say that these knives actually miss out on the best bits of either style. Serrated edges are great for cutting through things, such as rope, wood or metal, whereas straight edge knives are better for all-round use. It is also much easier to make sure that a straight edge blade stays sharp.

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Material

Carbon steel and stainless steel are the two main materials that knives are made out of. Although carbon steel is normally stronger, it rusts more easily than stainless steel does, and therefore requires careful maintenance. To keep carbon steel in good condition, you must wipe it down regularly with mineral oil.

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife, Serrated Edge [31-000751]
Rothco Deluxe Adventurer Survival Kit Knife
Amazon Jungle Survival Knife with Sheath
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

   

How to Survive in the Wild

Whether you are planning on going on a wilderness walk, or whether you are worried about your ability to survive if you were forced to spend time away from your home comforts, it can be good to develop a basic understanding of how to survive in the wild. Here are some tips to help you if you find yourself in a situation where you are a long way from civilisation.

Understanding Your Position

If you have intentionally taken yourself out into the wild, then you may feel as though this point does not apply to you, but it is still important to know and understand where you are. Understanding where you are will help you to make the logical and rational which will help you to survive in the wild. Without your bearings, you could end up just walking around in a huge circle. Try to determine the cardinal directions (North, South, East, West) by using outdoor skills. There are a lot of things that can help you out here, but the easiest way to do this is by looking at the sun. Where ever you are in the world, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, you can normally work out North and South by looking for patterns in the foliage. Trees and plants tend to be fuller on the Southern side, whilst you will normally only find moss growing on the Northern side of trees and walls. This is because moss prefers darker, shadier conditions. Depending on where you are, you may also want to get yourself to higher ground, as this may give you a much better idea about what is around you.

How to Survive in the Wild

Shelter

If you are forced to spend the night in the wild it is important that you either manage to find shelter or know how to make a shelter from what is around you. Shelter will help to keep you warmer and drier, by protecting you from the wind and rain. Alternatively, if you are in the wild in a warm climate, it can help to protect you from the sun and give you shade. Before building a shelter, think about where to site it. Ideally it should be close to both food and water sources, although you should avoid building a shelter right on the banks of a river or stream, in case the river floods. Make sure that you build shelter before nightfall, as you will struggle to find the best materials once it gets dark.  If you know that you are going out into the wild, you should always take a real tent, or a line and tarp, which can be used in various different ways to make a shelter.

How to Survive in the Wild2

Water

Finding water is even more important than finding food. Whilst food is essential to maintain your energy levels, you will actually die more quickly if you are deprived of water than you would if you were to be deprived of food. To prevent excessive water loss, stay out of the midday sun and try to keep cool in hot weather. If you are going out into the wilderness intentionally, then you should always carry water purification tablets. These will help you to avoid becoming sick from pollutants in the water. Rivers flow downhill, so your best bet for finding water is to move to low-lying areas. Lush foliage signals that an area is well hydrated. You can also follow animal tracks or bird flight paths in the morning or evening, as these tend to lead to water. However, you should also be aware that you may encounter these animals at the watering hole, so be careful if the animal that you are tracking is a large one.

How to Survive in the Wild1

Feeding Yourself

If you are near a river, fishing for food is easy, as long as you can make equipment for yourself. Hunting for meat is inadvisable, as you will likely expend more energy than you gain. Only eat fruit and berries that you recognise, and avoid eating anything with a cloudy or milky sap, as these plants are most likely to be poisonous. As a rule, most plants with yellow or white berries are poisonous.

How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere
Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival
SAS Survival Guide 2E (Collins Gem): For any climate, for any situation
A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)