With increasing costs of real estate and energy use, there’s increasing popularity to move to more rural areas. In some cases, these rural areas could be completely off the grid. This means not using or depending on public utilities such as electricity or water. This concept was unpopular and a far thought in the past; however, it has grown in popularity as people move outwards to more rural areas. Reasons such as housing affordability, city congestion, and traffic are driving factors for people moving out of urban areas.
allows and even pushes home designers to seek energy-efficient design to cope with the lack of readily available resources. This results in many homes that are net-zero ready
or net zero. Another key advantage to off-the-grid living is the freedom from municipal controls such as restrictions on design and delays in permitting. Oftentimes, an off-the-grid home is fully managed by its owner and independent from government property.
Many specific characteristics come into play including climate, home orientation
, and features of the land. These elements contribute to the design as it’s ideal to design for optimal energy efficiency. This means utilizing the sun and wind to provide household cooling, ventilation, heating, and lighting.
Positioning a home in a way where the main living areas face north allows for maximum sunlight year-round. It is also important to note that east-facing rooms absorb more sunlight in the early part of the day and cool down in the latter part of the day. As a result, this makes for more comfortable summer sleeping. West-facing rooms have great afternoon daylight, but could possibly overheat throughout the year; therefore, adequate shading is key.
Homes should have proper air quality and flow to ensure the best health of the occupants. This is possible through doors and windows with sizing and openings in a way that induces airflow and regulates air quality, humidity, and temperature.
High-Performance Building Materials
Proper choice of building materials such as windows
and roofing material
will not only improve energy efficiency when living off the grid but reduce any need for utilities.