The idea of living off the grid may sound impossible or like a pipe dream, but it is possible and cost efficient. A couple have been living off the grid for over a decade in their earth ship that looks and feels like a normal house. The neat stuff they installed includes a grey water collection and watering system, solar panels, and passive ventilation. Its’s a neat project that shows what’s possible,
Kristina is a structural engineer who designed and helped build this off-grid passive solar home with solar panels, solar hot water heaters, rainwater collection, a composting toilet, and a greywater garden. It’s a pretty impressive and functional Earthship inspired home and she lives here with her partner Matt in Colorado.
The North American dream often hinges on owning the shelter you reside in, but with raising home prices this is a challenge for many. It may work out in the long run though as we should be creating systems that favour renters over owners since homeowners tend to hold back progress. Of course, we will need to protect renters from evictions and so on. Regardless, over at Vox they have an interesting analysis on home ownership which is worth considering:
Researcher Rachel Bogardus Drew points to more than a centuryâ€™s worth of messages praising the benefits of homeownership, â€œeverything from personal freedom and self-determination, social equality and inclusion, personal and economic success, and a better quality of life.â€
One of the messages Drew cites is from a 1916 article in the Hutchinson News telling readers: â€œOwning a home raises one in the estimation of his neighbors and associates. … Nothing gives a man a better standing in a community than the fact that he is a house-holder, a payer of taxes on real estate.â€
The standard North American home (pictured above) is horrible inefficient and quite bad for the environment. As the climate crisis conies to worsen we need to change the way we provide shelter for people: and that’s exactly what Phoenix, Arizona did. Arizona is experience such extreme heat that everyday objects are melting and car tires explode, sometimes the airport can’t function either. This led the City of Phoenix to launch a competition for making the most affordable and environmentally friendly home.
The winning home building plan is available for free online from the city, meaning you can download a home.
The winner of the contest, Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, went even lower. The studioâ€™s affordable, three-bedroom home, dubbed HOME nz, has an impressive HERS rating of zero. A $100,000 prize went to Imirzianâ€™s firm, and the design is now available for widespread use; the City of Phoenix has made the construction plans for HOME nz available for free to encourage the public to build more eco-friendly homes. â€œThe city of Phoenix has a very visionary sustainability director and department who are looking for leadership for built work in the Phoenix area,â€ says Imirzian. â€œ[The] goal was to show how simple moves could result in significant [environmental] changes.â€
Since Phoenixâ€™s dry, sun-bleached environment involves extreme heat, the design incorporates high-performance glass, which reduces heat transmission from outside, and retractable fabric screens for greater shade and passive cooling without the help of an AC unit. But HOME nz is a useful and applicable model no matter the climate. â€œIf the volume performs well in terms of the separation of the interior and exterior then no matter where you build your house, it will be managed optimally by what youâ€™re surrounding the house with,â€ notes Imirzian. â€œIt would do just as well in a very cold climate or [a place] where you need conditioning or heating.â€
Most people think living off the grid means living the countryside with your own well, reenable energy, and food source. The truth is that style of off the grid requires massive space to work (for example, a well needs a large area to collect water from), so that rural off the grid doesn’t work for everyone.
What is a person living in the city to do to get off the grid though?
Back in the 90s there was a competition throughout Canada to figure that out. One winner is still living in his house that is off the grid in Toronto.
â€œWe promised to make the house self-sufficient and not use any non-renewable fuel,â€ Paloheimo said.
â€œDespite the homeâ€™s high-tech appearance, most of the products and systems are simple and straightforward,â€ said Chris Ives, CMHC project manager, said in a Toronto Healthy House report published after the house was built.
â€œOff-grid houses do not necessarily require hours of labour for upkeep. In fact, everything in the house is easy to maintain and available in todayâ€™s marketplace.â€
What is Geothermal? from Austin Wendenburg on Vimeo.
Geothermal energy is one of the most sustainable energy sources because it works off of heat transferring from the ground to your home. In Iceland, the majority of the electricity comes from geothermal energy because the country sits in a prime location. You can make use of geothermal energy at your home in a much smaller way.