How Our Appliances Choices Reflect a Slow Lifestyle
Like every choice on this bus, we're making these carefully. Our layout is built into the bus and there won't be too many changes once its complete. The difference between a cooktop and a range is a major demolition, but we're confident in the choices we've made, based on the lifestyle we want to live. Lifestyle is at the center stage in choosing our appliances. We had to ask ourselves:
- How much food will we store in the fridge and freezer? What about all that raw dog food?
- How often will we actually use an oven - how often do we use it now?
- What do we enjoy doing and what could we live without the immediate option for?
- How will our pets adapt to our house, what do they need?
- What will we do when inclement weather confines us to our small space for hours, sometimes days?
- How will we cope with running out of items, especially being newbies to the road life?
- Where will our necessities come from and how will we need to take care of them?
This type of introspection is important for anyone designing their space, their lifestyle, or both. Have you ever surveyed your life and though, 'I wish I were...' - so have we. Instead of wishing, we're putting in the work to create the lives we want. It's hard, we have changed up our choices many, many times, but have learned more about ourselves than we could have imagined through this process.
Below is a breakdown of how our appliance choices reflect a slower, hands-on lifestyle. It's more work, but we see ourselves reaping far more rewards
A Kitchen for avid cooks, fervent non-wasters
But, what about coffee, toast, baked goods? A few appliances are missing!
Yes, we've chosen a life without an oven. And thankfully, we're well-versed in manual coffee preparation methods (which happen to be a million times better than the automated methods), and as for toast, which is Amelia's favorite food, we have options. Most importantly, we wanted to establish how we want to live, not cater to how we live now. We currently have way more food in the cabin fridge than would fit in this 6 cubic feet choice - we even have access to a second fridge in the garage. We don't currently compost, but we want to. Only Hobo, Alhen's (must smaller) dog is raw fed. Gallow (about times Hobo's size) will hopefully have the opportunity to go back to raw food after a three-year stint eating kibble. We'll have to learn new ways of being, but that's part of the fun!
Our Water-conserving bathroom
Lately, we've noticed how much water we actually consume. Staggering, at times. The amount of time (and water) it takes Amelia to wash her hair, all the water rushing through the dishwasher at least once daily, even just running the tap until hot water comes out. That last point is why it was a no-brainer to choose an on-demand propane water heater. A quick search revealed a ridiculous but realistic statistic about how much water is wasted just waiting for hot water:
An average home has 125 feet of 3/4 inch pipe. This holds 3.14 gallons of water. If hot water is used 10 times per day, 31 gallons of water is wasted running the faucets/shower to get the hot water. In a year, this equals 11,461 gallons of water. (Premiere H20)
To ensure we maximize the efficiency of our plumbing, Alhen will be installing a water pump and an accumulator tank, which together ensure that water pressure and speediness of delivery are always at their best.
We chose an inexpensive, entry-level shower head simply because down the line, we want to experiment with low-flow and filtered shower heads. Because we're living out of water tanks most of the time, and the rest spent on seemingly foreign sources of "hookup" water, having a filtered shower head in the near future will be paramount. But, as with all of our purchases, comparing for the best fit for us, rather than price, will take time and ultimately reveal the best option.
What we had trouble going without is a washing machine. Amelia lived the laundromat life for years before she met Alhen and both of us, avid outdoors-folk and simply people who mess up their clothes, agreed that having an efficient way to at the very least wash our laundry was paramount. Hang-drying is totally fine with us (for now), though we have considered that we may want a dryer in the future. The solar washer we chose uses only six gallons of water per load, compared to the 15 - 30 used by "high-efficiency" washers.
Staying Warm with a little extra effort
For Amelia's mother, staying warm is of the highest concern. Frankly, we're concerned about this as well! Wood burning stoves and alternative heating methods may be one of our most researched appliance topics and for good reason: performance, price, and products vary so widely, you'd do yourself a disservice not to understand the market.
Varieties we compared:
- Pellet heaters: While these are very efficient, cool-looking, and low on necessary materials, the price range was so out of our league. As well, many pellet stoves are rated for spaces much larger than ours. We feared we'd be spending a boat-load of money on a heater that would boil us out of our small space.
- Reclaimed/used/old wood burning stoves: Price factors were very attractive in the realm of a used or reclaimed stove. However, space played a part once again, as 'mini stoves' aren't the majority of what you find on Craigslist. Instead, you're finding enoromous, difficult to move cast iron heating beasts who could not only boil us out, but could make an unnecssary contribution to our on-board weight.
- New floor-mounted 'small' wood burning stoves: The floor mounted stove was Amelia's favorite. Though small, these mighty little heaters take up a fraction of the space, are not nearly as powerful, but do take up valuable floor space. At just around 250 square feet in entirety, the attractiveness of using floor space for something other than a heater drew us away from the traditional floor mount with a flue pipe and into a more modern option.
- New wall-mounted 'small' wood burning stoves: The assortment you see above from Grizzly woodstoves is the winner! Compact, mountable on the wall, complete with accessories, and rated to heat a space slightly larger than ours, but not so much so that we will roast. These stoves are made of high quality materials and are in our price range - something we didn't have at first but could only develop through comparitive searching.
We know going into this that wood stoves take work. There will be wood chopping and parsing into small pieces, kindling gathering and storage, the ritual of stoking, filling, cleaning, and all over again. But, the hands-on experience of creating and monitoring your own warmth is something that entices both of us. The slowness of it, the attention it emands, we look forward to spending just a bit more of our time doing activities like this over the more superficial draws we indulge in today.
For entertainment purposes
Goodbye to the great Western-society love of television
Both of us lived without TV for years before the cabin. Our brief stint here, though entertaining as it is, further cemented in us our non-need of a TV. In our small space, we're opting for small, bluetooth speakers for surround sound throughout the bus; a small projector who draws little electricity but packs a powerful punch; and a roll-up projector screen measuring 60 inches diagonally and storable in the umbrella + walking stick canister. We enjoy Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Planet Earth too much to give up all screen time, and Amelia is completely incapable of watching a show (or even a 30 second video) on a laptop. Our entertainment system is small but it's all we need for a lifestyle spent largely outside, making, exploring, and living.
How's your appliance journey going?
We'd love to hear from you. What appliances have you chosen for your small or standard space? We love learning about new and innovative companies, comparing geeky aspects like energy usage and size, and exploring new options for the future. Share with us in the comments below and be sure to share your own blog or social media so we can get acquainted!