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Survival Skills: Alternative Heat and Energy Sources

Updated on October 13, 2016
Cynthia Hoover profile image

Cynthia is a homesteader who grows, harvests, and stores many foods, and prefers natural, homemade remedies for her family.

Alternative energy sources are something anyone who considers learning survival tactics and skills should look into. In the event of a natural disaster or many other survival settings you will likely no longer have access to the power grid. How will you continue to power your much needed items like refrigerator or even just lights when the grid is out? There are many alternative energy sources available today, learning about them will help aid you with deciding the best energy source for your family.

There are multiple options on the market today to power our homes in the event of a failing power grid. Not all are without their issues, nor are all budget friendly, You will need to evaluate the best alternative energy options for your budget and situation. Heating your home for the cold winter months will always be a necessity. If you are not lucky enough to have access to free well head gas for heat, how will you heat your home?

Solar Energy

Perhaps one of the most common forms of alternative energy is solar panels. Using solar energy is a bit more complicated than just adding the panels to your home or property. There is a fair amount of maintenance involved and that will vary depending on the type of setup you choose. Solar panels absorb the sun's rays and convert it into usable energy for your home.

A solar setup can be used for simply powering your lights, or running the heat in your home. It is possible to completely power your home with solar energy, though it can be an expensive investment. With the tax credits offered in the US, the initial cost of a solar setup runs around $17,000. If you own your home, there are companies willing to place solar panels on your home in exchange for paying for the cost of the electricity they produce. With survival in mind, switching from a grid power service to paying for solar may just be a smart move. You will still have the access to your solar power even in the event of an economic collapse.

If you are looking to hire a company to put in your solar panels there are a few things you need to look for:

  • Inverter warranty of at least 10 years
  • Panel warranty of 20-25 years
  • Check for a bonded and licensed professional
  • Where the panels are manufactured
  • Any additional warranties

If you do not make sure that your inverter and panels have a decent warranty, you may find your solar adventure proves to be a costly one in the long run. If you are located in the US, make sure that your panels are manufactured there as well. This will make getting anything under warranty fixed much easier. Always check for a licensed professional with no complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

There are several options you have available for obtaining your solar energy:

  • Buy
  • Lease
  • Finance

There are low interest rate loans available that make it easy to finance solar panels as an alternative energy source. You can also choose to lease from a supplier, or if you are able just buy them outright.

If you want to buy them, you can start small with one or two small panels and then add additional ones as money becomes available.

Wind Energy

If you live in an area with ample breezes and wind year round, you could consider wind energy as an alternative. Wind energy has been used for a long time. People used to harness the wind in order to grind grains, pump water and other tasks. These days harnessing wind energy has become much easier over the last 100 or so years. Modern wind turbines can be very useful alternative energy sources. Depending on the set up they can produce energy for simple tasks like pumping water into your home. Or they can be used and the energy can be converted with a generator for electricity.

If you need to power a large home, you will need a 10 kilowatt wind turbine. The cost of a turbine that size will run around $60,000. A very high investment for alternative energy. If you are not afraid of a little hard work, you can build your own wind turbine and produce energy. There are many different DIY wind turbine kits available at a low cost, though none will likely power your entire house.

If you choose wind energy as an alternative, you may find using the smaller kits available you can power certain areas of your home. Perhaps only powering what is needed at any given time will prove useful. If you are a mechanical engineering enthusiast then you can find plans for building larger scale wind turbines on the internet. Building your own will no doubt save you the high installation cost, the only cost will be the materials you need.


When all else fails, raise some pigs! This is perhaps the cheapest alternative energy option available, if you already have hogs of course. Hog manure can be converted into methane gas, with a few simple items.

  • Biogas Digester
  • Storage Container

A biogas digester can easily be made with items from your local hardware store. Sure you can pay a professional to come and create your manure methane converter, though it really is not at all complicated to make it. Plus you will save a lot of money creating it yourself. It is also possible to use a basic compost in place of manure, though not everyone has access to a large amount of rotten fruits and vegetables. If you are raising livestock animals, you already have a source of alternative energy you just have to convert it to methane.

Using this alternative energy will also yield some amazing fertilizer. Slurry is a byproduct of the process and is drained off, and it is a concentrated powerful fertilizer you can use in your garden.

This is the cheapest alternative energy source, building your own system will run you at most around $2,000. Much cheaper than tens of thousands for the other methods. Plus if you raise pigs, you will always have a stead supply of meat as well.

© 2016 Cynthia Hoover


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    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 13 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      Thank you Cynthia, I look forward to the hub. I would like to install a unit just for a few lights and my computer for emergencies. Fortunately in South Africa we have the ideal weather for solar power.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image

      Cynthia Hoover 13 months ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Anita, I recently purchased a small solar panel kit and I will never doing a more detailed article about it very soon. If you own your home many companies will do in depth consultation for free, and often install the panels for free as well depending on how much wattage you can produce (sun exposure etc).

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 13 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      Love your article on alternative power. I am thinking of getting solar power as a standby power source. Would appreciate it if you could add some more info to your article. How much watt is in one of the solar panels on the house in the article, and what could you run on one such panel?