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  • Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

    Ok, I felt like I was getting off to a bit of a tangent on the rising oil prices thread, so I thought it'd be best to make a new one dedicated to this topic.

    I have always thought it'd be so fantastic to be completely self-sufficient. Not only is it good for piece of mind, but it's also obviously good for the environment as well. I've always found atypical energy conscious homes fascinating and would like to design one for myself to build someday. Back when I was young, the geodesic dome style homes were popular. I've seen some cool homes in New Mexico before, as well. One idea my uncle likes is using clay from your land to make the walls of the home. If you make them like 4 feet thick, it keeps your home very cool in the summer and holds warmth well in the winter. I've heard of people doing a stucco exterior, so it actually looks pretty nice. At the old family farm I plan on building at, the ground is made up of mostly clay, and we have a big bulldozer, so this might work.

    I also want a combination of solar panels, a wind turbine, and geothermal solutions. To be more efficient in the house, I'm thinking a tankless water heater (which I've used and they do indeed rock), no CRT tv's or monitors (which I've already gotten away from), efficient appliances, no carpet (just rugs in key locations), etc, etc.

    Anyone else have any ideas for their dream home?

    Here's some links:
    The Water Heater I Want - http://www.rinnai.us/Products/water_.../overview.aspx
    Geothermal heating and cooling! - http://www.waterfurnace.com/how_it_works.aspx
    Wind baby! - http://www.windenergy.com/products/whisper_500.htm
    Solar Power - http://akeena.net/cm/Residential_Solar_Power/Home.html
    "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

  • #2
    Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

    Every self sufficient home must have a flowbee or otherwise one may be called a hippie.

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    • #3
      Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

      Hahaha. The flowbee would be a must of course!

      As far as my wall ideas go, the clay walls might prove to be a bigger pain than previously thought, so maybe I'd just go with a steel-framed house with brick exterior, for making it less prone to fires than a typical wood-framed house. Clay would be pretty sweet, though. Especially since the home would be mostly natural and probably hypo-allergenic. Guess I got about 10 years to figure this all out. That's when I plan on starting the building process.
      "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

        Build near a river or stream so you can have a water wheel.
        A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

        "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

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        • #5
          Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

          I was an architecture undergraduate (minor in mid-east history) and focused on sustainable architecture and design. The most sustainable project I found then (and continues today) is Earthship 'biotecture' - these dwellings exist in near-total harmony with nature by constructed of re-constituted material (tires, glass bottles) and generating their own power, HVAC. It's simply futuristic (yet rustic).

          Tying both sustainable design and middle eastern history together, the Jewish kibbutz (kibbutzim) is one of the better examples of sustainable living at a community level. These are entire communities that literally live off the grid - producing not only services but food, education and government for themselves. They also happen to be a controversial tool in land grabbing and nation building, but that's for another thread.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

            Tybalt is correct. Hydro power is the overall cheapest and most reliable source of energy.

            Finding a suitable water source and being able to buy it is the real problem. Especially if you are going for farm land.

            The classic water wheel could work but isn't the most efficient. Better devices

            I have always been fascinated by solar water heating. Heating water can be up to 20% of home energy use. High capactity solar water heaters can pretty easy to build. It is best if you have a two loop system. One loop contains a liquid that is best suited for energy uptake and avoids boiling and freezing. The second loop contains the potable water.

            If you combine the solar water heater with the tankless water heaters. Presents one of the better ideas that I have seen. You can even use this system to help heat the house.

            I believe that a self reliant home needs, more than anything, redundancy. Having at least three sources of power is a good idea. Generally when it is cloudy and solar doesn't work wind it up. So having a solar and wind turbine. Then have a used diesel generator for the times when you can't keep up. The ideal would to also be connected to the grid just in case.

            Dome homes are pretty cool and they are the most efficient use of materials for the volume gained. Some people think they just stink of hippy and reject them on that alone. One good thing about them is that they are pretty aerodynamic so they are pretty safe during a storm. Some plans claim they can handle up to > 180 mph winds. Add in some bullet proof glass and they can handle all but the worst of tornadoes and hurricanes.

            Many dome users build in stages. They build one dome that the family lives in. As budget allows they build other domes and connect them. This also allows you to shut down parts of the house very effectively during times when energy is limited.

            Another really nice feature of domes is you can position the windows to take advantage of solar heating easily.
            Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
            - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
            - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
            - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
            - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
            - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
            - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

              Originally posted by AMosely View Post
              I was an architecture undergraduate (minor in mid-east history) and focused on sustainable architecture and design. The most sustainable project I found then (and continues today) is Earthship 'biotecture' - these dwellings exist in near-total harmony with nature by constructed of re-constituted material (tires, glass bottles) and generating their own power, HVAC. It's simply futuristic (yet rustic).

              Tying both sustainable design and middle eastern history together, the Jewish kibbutz (kibbutzim) is one of the better examples of sustainable living at a community level. These are entire communities that literally live off the grid - producing not only services but food, education and government for themselves. They also happen to be a controversial tool in land grabbing and nation building, but that's for another thread.

              The tire house!!!! I have loved that idea since I was 8.

              My favorite design is using tires to produce a earth berm surrounding three sides. The actual walls are constructed of hay bails providing a lot of insulation.

              The front facing wall can be normal building materials thus satisfying the modern aesthetic. Or you can complete the front with hail bail construction.

              Rammed earth is an option but it is very labor intensive.
              Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
              - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
              - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
              - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
              - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
              - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
              - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                I'm seriously thinking about building an underground home in which to retire:

                http://www.green-trust.org/bagend.htm
                Become a supporting member!
                Buy a Tactical Duck!
                Take the world's smallest political quiz! "I was touched by His Noodly Appendage."
                TacticalGamer TX LAN/BBQ Veteran:

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                • #9
                  Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                  The Earthship idea is super cool, but my sorta high-class grandmother would crap a brick if I put that on our land. She even put it in her will that we can't even put a mobile home on it. Haha. The land is currently hers and will be passed down to us children, with the condition that we NEVER sell it (which is truly wonderful). She said I can build on it whenever I want, though. It's been in the family continuously for over 100 years. Since the original land grant I believe. So I have over 500 acres of pasture/forest to fart around on. There is a stream in the woods, but it's like a quarter-mile from where I'll put the house and it doesn't flow well during dry seasons, so I'm probably not going to do water power. Since land is the most expensive part of buying a home, building it should be pretty cheap. That's why I'm going to spare no expense with the energy solutions for the home. I also do love the idea of the solar water heater/tankless combo. I think that'll be the way to go for sure.
                  "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                    Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                    I'm seriously thinking about building an underground home in which to retire:

                    http://www.green-trust.org/bagend.htm
                    Just saw the link. That would be SWEET! Pretty dang near tornado-proof too! Too bad I don't have hilly enough land on which to do that. Talk about a good home to hide out from people/scavengers when the apocalypse hits. Hahaha. All kidding aside, it's a great idea and I'm surprised more people don't do those types of homes.
                    "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                      The underground house would be great, especially in tornado country. Just imagine hearing being in a tornado warning but going to bed just like normal.

                      The biggest drawback to the underground house is the amount of engineering required. Every site has it's own requirements. And if it is built wrong it is very difficult to fix.
                      Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                      - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                      - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                      - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                      - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                      - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                      - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                        Oh, and I'd like a link to a residential solar company that has a 20 year bumper to bumper warranty, please.
                        Become a supporting member!
                        Buy a Tactical Duck!
                        Take the world's smallest political quiz! "I was touched by His Noodly Appendage."
                        TacticalGamer TX LAN/BBQ Veteran:

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                          Actually, does anyone have any experience with solar panel installation? We're looking into putting a small array on a seasonal cabin in the Catskills and I'm researching brands, configurations, and installers.

                          The cabin is on a mountianside with no grid access, so it has to be a standalone system, and it will require a large capacitor and/or secondary generator. We'd like to get a pole-mounted design rather than put anything on the roof. I don't know the actual power draw of the cabin yet, but we'd like to be able to run up to 10 flourescent lights, a small refrigerator, and maybe one or two other small appliances.

                          Winters can be fierce up there, so we have an eye towards durabilty and/or modularity, so that we could take the delicate parts down during the off season. Any ideas?
                          In game handle: Steel Scion
                          sigpic

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                          • #14
                            Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                            Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                            Oh, and I'd like a link to a residential solar company that has a 20 year bumper to bumper warranty, please.
                            A quick google search found me a bunch. Here's some GREAT options...
                            http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/prod...panel-options/

                            Some seem to have 25 year warranties on the panels, but I think most places offer 5 years for the inverters. Still not hard to find a good warranty, though.
                            "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Energy Efficient and Self Sufficient Homes

                              Originally posted by Steeler View Post
                              Actually, does anyone have any experience with solar panel installation? We're looking into putting a small array on a seasonal cabin in the Catskills and I'm researching brands, configurations, and installers.

                              The cabin is on a mountianside with no grid access, so it has to be a standalone system, and it will require a large capacitor and/or secondary generator. We'd like to get a pole-mounted design rather than put anything on the roof. I don't know the actual power draw of the cabin yet, but we'd like to be able to run up to 10 flourescent lights, a small refrigerator, and maybe one or two other small appliances.

                              Winters can be fierce up there, so we have an eye towards durabilty and/or modularity, so that we could take the delicate parts down during the off season. Any ideas?
                              Check out:
                              Originally posted by Previously posted link
                              Eco-Series by Uni-Solar.
                              These framed modules are glass free, lightweight, and virtually unbreakable. They can be adjusted for optimum tilt and wind resistance and are shadow and high heat tolerant. Power ratings are at 62 and 124 watts. Uni-Solar products are known for easy installation that doesn’t require roof penetration.
                              http://www.uni-solar.com/interior.asp?id=100
                              Maybe that would be a good brand for you.
                              "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

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