One of the goals for which we aimed with our decision to move to a yurt was to reduce our energy consumption.
Yurts, being round, offer reduced heating costs per square foot of floor space because the air is able to circulate readily. Conversely, cooling is more effective due to the open design. This element of the yurt layout, of course, helps to cut energy consumption.
Our heating system is an outdoor wood furnace (in contemporary language, a “biomass converter”), which supplies heat to the greenhouses, workshop and yurt. The furnace design has been modified to enable us to do most of our cooking on top of the unit, to eliminate the need for an indoor electric or propane range. Supplementary cooking will be done in a toaster oven.
Rather than use a 240V well pump and pressure system to provide water, we will be using a modified 2-cycle engine-driven water pump to pump water from the well to overhead cistern units above the kitchen sink and bathroom area. Separate 20-liter sprayer tanks will be used to provide water spray necessary for hand washing, compost toilet cleaning and dish spraying. The shower head is a “rain shower” head, fed by gravity-driven water from the overhead cistern. Water is heated by the outdoor wood furnace and solar heat.
We have given away our refrigerator, along with our electric stove. The refrigerator, although energy efficient, was far larger than what two people required. In its place, we have purchased a 90-watt bar fridge (with small freezer compartment), and a half-sized, 60-watt bar fridge. The small unit will be used only when we absolutely require it (less than 25% of the time).
Our major concern was our lighting. Although individual lighting consumes relatively small amounts of energy, a person tends to neglect to turn off lights, to use too much lighting, or to use lighting that is too bright for the task at hand.
To charge my laptop, I plug it into a power inverter plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter.
By laying a white light-duty panelling over the interior walls, we reduce the need for lighting. Four 18’ x 48” mirrors are placed around the perimeter to reflect light, as well. We “traded in our three halogen floor lamps (250 watts each) for three $25 credits on energy efficient lights (thanks to our local electric company!). Now, our entire lighting consists of a 5-arm floor lamp with 13-watt CFLs, 20 solar lights marking our exterior entrance and walkway, one 20-watt Xenon puck light over the entrance inside the yurt, and four plug-in LED light packs, producing as much light, each, as a 150 watt incandescent bulb, but drawing a total of 4 watts of energy for all of them.
Our only other energy costs are costs to charge our cellular telephone (we have eliminated the landline), and our energy-efficient LCD television (used a maximum of 1 hour per day).
Total energy consumption is projected to be the equivalent of $4.00 per month (we use solar power, so there is no grid cost), compared to an average of $60 per month in our former home.