Have Energy on Hand
You’re going to need energy to run your homestead, but that can come from a number of different sources. Though alternative energy sources are big with homesteaders (especially the more remote ones), this article is going to cover the more conventional types of energy sources. Most of these are used as heating fuel, which may or may not even be a concern given your immediate climate.
Electricity on the Homestead
This is one of the most versatile and accessible types of energy sources for your homestead, and unless you are buying undeveloped land, it will likely be available. Electricity is what will power all the lights, appliances and other devices in your home and the barn. It can be used for heat, but compared to the other power sources listed below, that will be very costly.
You don’t have to have electricity but it will be a real culture shock if you try to live without it (unless you’ve already done so before). Electricity is supplied by your municipality and you will likely have a meter that records how much you use. You pay based on usage and there may be reductions in cost for using power during “non-peak” times.
Natural Gas on the Homestead
Natural gas is a popular fuel in town but may not be available in more rural areas because it is usually piped in, and supply networks may not exist out in the country. If you have access to it, it makes a good heating fuel and you can also install natural gas stoves for cooking. Generally speaking, this is the cheapest option for conventional heating fuel.
Propane on the Homestead
One of the great things about propane is that you can use it for more purposes than just heating. Not only can you run a stove or oven with propane, other appliances can use it as a fuel as well. Believe it or not, you can get lighting fixtures, refrigerators and freezers that run on propane, which makes it a very handy fuel if electricity is not easily available.
The appliances will be more expensive than conventional ones so plan on some added expense at the onset if you are going to rely on propane. Unlike the last two, propane is one of the types of energy sources usually purchased by the tank-load, which adds another level of security in using it. Once you have a tank’s worth, it’s there and available. You don’t get sudden or unexpected outages like you can with electricity or even natural gas.
Heating Oil on the Homestead
This is a fine energy source but it is really only used for home heating. Compared to the other types of energy sources previously mentioned, this is often the most expensive fuel option.
Oil is delivered by the tanker load, and you just pay for the volume you’ve used. Depending on your source, it will be delivered automatically based on a calculation that includes your historic usage as well as the current temperatures outside. That means your oil company will deliver more oil after a stretch of colder-than-usual weather which can make your fuel management a little easier.