What would it be like not having to pay an electricity or water bill every month? More families are finding out every year as they move off the grid and build sustainable homes. On average, households pay about $1,400 a year in electricity, though it can be much more depending on your area and how much electricity you use.
What is off-grid living? In short, you don’t rely on any public services like electricity or water. Instead, you’ll have solar panels or some other type of sustainable energy for electricity, and a well or nearby lake or river for water. Say goodbye to that electric bill altogether (and a few other bills as well).
What kind of a home can you live in? Check out these great options for off-grid houses.
Shipping containers are an ideal option for those who are looking to reduce their impact on the environment as much as possible. Not only are you giving a used shipping container a home, but also it is an easy and inexpensive way to build an off-grid house.
Most shipping containers these days are rated for one trip across the ocean. However, just because they can’t brave the wind and the waves once more, doesn’t mean they are in bad shape. They can still withstand a few storms and are perfect for protecting you and your belongings. Shipping companies looking for the easiest way to get rid of the containers will often sell them very cheap to enterprising individuals like you!
With most of the structure already-built, shipping container homes are easy and fast to build. And don’t think you’re stuck with an 8-foot space, you can take off one wall and put two (or more) shipping containers together to make a bigger space. You can also easily stack them, creating any floorplan you like.
The idea of living in 400 square feet or less won’t appeal to everyone. But for those who plan to spend most of their time outside or in their community a tiny house can be an intriguing idea.
The small space is inexpensive and tiny houses can be moved if you want to pack up and take your house with you. The concept is becoming so popular that some people are adopting a minimalist lifestyle and living in tiny houses anywhere — not just off the grid.
Natural homes home have roots going back hundreds of years. They come in different forms, for example, underground houses, cob houses, and earthbag houses.
Underground houses are far from a rabbit’s burrow, but they do spark the idea of hobbit homes. You can purchase a modular home designed to be covered with soil, grass, and even large vegetation. The earth around it provides excellent insulation and the homes are very durable and long-lasting.
Cob house designs are based on ancient building principles of using sand, clay, straw, and whatever other organic materials you can find. The thermal mass of the structure helps regulate the temperature inside.
The materials for cob houses are very inexpensive and you can even do it yourself to cut down on the labor costs. You can make cob houses large and spacious and they can last for decades if built properly.
Another way to build a natural home is with bags of dirt. An earthbag house is built by piling sacks of dirt in a circle to build a dome. It’s cost-effective and you can do it yourself. The dome design is very strong and it also takes advantage of the thermal mass.
Once the earthbag dome is finished, it can be finished off with plaster or covered with a living roof to make it blend into the ground. The concept is basic, but with a bit of creativity you can build a large, comfortable home.
Cabins are a kind of rustic off-grid living experience that hails back to the pioneer days. Homes are often built with local materials, particularly if they are located in the woods. If an image of a log cabin from Little House on the Prairie is coming to mind, you’ve got the right idea.
Many people already have cabins for summer vacations or as a place to stay during the hunting season. However, with a few additions like renewable energy and a good heat source, cabins can be a comfortable year-round off-grid home.
This is a great option in areas that are hard to get to. Trailering in a tiny home or shipping container or bringing the material to build from the ground up can be difficult. However, clearing a few trees from the land itself to build your off-grid home is a little more feasible.
Earthship houses kind of sound like something out of a science fiction movie — and they kind of look like it too. However, as far as off-grid homes go, they are a fantastic option.
Earthships are often built with recycled materials like old tires, glass bottles, and aluminum cans. Right off the bat, you’re helping keep the world clean by keeping those materials out of the landfills.
After that, earthship homes are designed to take care of the people living in them. The structure is often sound enough to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Wind turbines and solar energy provide electricity, black water is treated by onsite botanical cells, and homes are often built into hillsides to take advantage of thermal energy for climate control.
They usually have a built-in greenhouse where you can grow food. As a bonus, the oxygen given off by the plants provide the air-tight home with superior air quality.
Living Off the Grid in a Sustainable Home
Do you dream of independence from your utility bills? Do you want to do your part by building a sustainable home and reducing your carbon footprint on the earth?
There are so many great ideas for building sustainable, off-grid homes that still offer many of the creature comforts that you are used to. Of course, a lot will be different, but isn’t that part of the adventure?
Check out more fantastic ideas for off-grid homes on our site and learn how to get started on your own dream home today!