One of the more difficult things about taking on a permaculture lifestyle when we already have an established residence is that, because the practice is based on efficient design, many times we having seemingly come to the game too late. Once a brick-and-mortar house is built and our savings are invested, it’s no small task to start renovating it to have a built in grey water system or south-facing aspect. But, that’s not to say nothing can be done.
With December rapidly approaching and temperatures falling here in the States, passive heating is more and more on my mind. I’m acutely aware of how poorly thought through, in terms of energy efficiency, many homes are. Having only recently returned, experiencing my first winter in a while, it’s painfully obvious, in fact, that rarely has any thought at all gone into passive heating. With power—natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear—readily available and reasonably affordable, houses simply haven’t been designed with this kind of efficient in mind for a long time. Economics has played a larger role than practicality.
That said, there are now a growing number of people wanting to live both more cost efficiently and more sustainably, but they are invested in homes not designed for that. For them, it’s important to find their own ways to contribute to and participate in positive lifestyle changes without immediately giving up everything they’ve worked for. They need to retrofit and make the most of what is already in place. Luckily, passive heating, to some degree, is still an option.
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