How do you run an efficient house?

Over the last year, our family has been moving in what I can only describe as an efficient household. At first, it came out of financial limitations, but after awhile it sort of becomes . . . hobbish?

For example. I hate mowing the grass. It’s not the work. It’s that I have other things I want to do, like writing, which theoretically could bring in fresh income. So I started thinking of ways to get away from it. So we started planning for goats, because instead of buying gas to mow the lawn we would be feeding goats which we would then eat. Yummy lawn mowers.

Then my wife tells me not to expect that goats will do all of the mowing. She still wants an area of lawn that is foot friendly without that soothing squish of goat fecal matter. Back to square one. Then, I find out you can make paper from grass. Some of my family and friends for sukkot received a green card (the color of the paper, not an immigration document) that was made from grass. Apparently, people will pay for homemade paper, so in theory, next year people will be paying me to mow my own yard.

Then it turns out, in the paper making process, you incidentally make strong liquid fertilizer. Hmm, can I sell that too? It remains to be seen. But a lesson has come out of this, that everything we do seems to generate not “waste” but a resource that with a little ingenuity can become an asset.

Another train of thought came about when we realized pretty much any food that comes in a box has something we don’t really want to eat. Plus there’s the box itself which then goes into the trash. But wait! The box can be recycled. The metal even recycled for money. Plastic, glass, and paper for “free”, but metal is money. Not only that but things like appliances can be reduced into their components that are again recyclable. So why am I paying for trash? I found out that whatever I couldn’t or wouldn’t recycle (say a dirty diaper), I can take directly to the landfill at 90 pounds a month for what I pay to have trash hauled off . . . from cans that are less than 1/5 full.

So it really seems, that my house (probably most houses) run really inefficiently. Nothing wrong with paying for luxuries and convenience, but most people don’t seem to even know how much and where they are paying. A little thought and family coordination can make resources like money stretch further, but in fact, turn expenses into incomes.

But it does seem to tempt toward a never ending black hole of efficiency, but it’s kind of fun too.

  • I was thinking of keeping inventories of household items for each room so I can easily see what’s supposed to be there, and easily make shopping lists.
  • Organize tool areas, with screws and stuff in clearly marked containers instead of mingled buckets.
  • I’m already converting trash cans to be divided between metals of different recyclable values.
  • I recently found a mill that discards “slab” lumber that’s perfectly usable, that I think if I repair a band saw downstairs, I can turn into furniture for selling, or use whole for raised bed gardens, or certainly firewood.

So, I may be crazy, but I think there’s other people having thoughts like this, and I’m curious about what ideas/practices/thoughts others are having?


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