Off The Grid Homes

Reducing Consumption

I have been looking at lots of off the grid homes, as well as reading some Owner Builder magazines which has prompted some general thoughts on off the grid living, and the natural progression towards a dwelling that achieves higher efficiencies, and less waste, while still being beautiful.

Reducing Waste

off the grid homes - mountain location

A natural consequence of wanting to live off the grid is to reduce consumption, I would think both of the extraneous ‘stuff’ that we all seem to have, as well as in the reduction of our use of power and water.

If you are able to work out your current consumption on items like

  • Heating/cooling
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas

This gives you a starting point for the water and power needs of an off the grid design. The aim now is to see how much you can trim down these amounts to make an off the grid home a possibility without cutting back on your levels of comfort.

A natural part of this process now involves minimizing that consumption and increasing energy efficiency, which can happen in varied ways in the design and planning of the new home.


Small Is Good

Reducing the size of the home you are building is a way to increase efficiencies and be more ingenious in the design of spaces. Smaller spaces naturally need less heating and cooling,. A smaller build will also reduce the waste materials produced in the build and in the conservation of resources.


Make The Best Use of Your Site

Working with your site, rather than against it will create comfortable living spaces that have low energy demands.

You might want to take in views, but also consider orientation in terms of your solar access, so that your home is built on passive solar principles, as well as considering prevailing winds.

Insulation also fits into this mix, creating a building envelope that insulates against extremes of temperature, while also maintaining a healthy internal atmosphere.


Making Best Use of Systems

There are many systems that need to go towards a working building/home, and the best use of these may involve integration of some of them, to get optimum performance.

Can your heating system also act to heat your hot water in winter?
Can you collect rainwater which can be used in showers and then siphoned off as grey water for your garden?

Using passive systems (without power backup) - like insulation, double glazed windows, summer shading, will add to the levels of comfort without any energy being required.


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