10 Tips for Building Your Off Grid or On Grid Home

Here are some energy saving tips to think about when starting to build off grid or on grid.  You can Click Here to be able to download your copy of our 10 Tips.  Enjoy!

  1. Tip 1: Face as many windows as possible South to optimize solar gain. This will help in two main areas.
    1. Heat Efficiency:
      1. In the winter, with the sun coming into your home more due to the low position of the sun, this can cut down on heating you home whether on grid or off grid.
    2. Energy Efficiency
      1. With having your main windows south, this allows optimal sun to come in and therefore not as many lights are needed to be used during the daylight hours.
  2. Tip 2: Cement Floor:
    1. A cement slab will capture heat from the sun to help heat your home in Winter and help keep it cool in Summer
  3. Tip 3: Having 2 foot eves assists to keep the sun out of your home in the summer and keep your home cool.
    1. Having two foot house eves assists in the summer months and does not allow the sun to come too far into your home and therefore this keeps your house cooler.
    2. In the Winter, when the Sun is low in the sky the eves on your home will not inhibit the sun and will allow for the sun to come into your home and warm it up.
  4. Tip 4: Up-Cycle when possible. It will save you $$$$!
  5. Tip 5: Place rooms on the North side that you want to be cooler
    1. Bedrooms, bathrooms, utility rooms, and pantries are great rooms to have on the north side of your home.  They do not need to be as heated as your living spaces
  6. Tip 6: Have your main living space towards the south to capture the heat and natural light.
  7. Tip 7: Have few windows on the North side of your home to keep heat in
    1. If in snow country and snow sheds on the North and South sides of your home, having minimal windows and having the windows up high will help with not having snow pile up in front of your windows and therefore loose heat faster.
    2. It is always better to have snow against an insulated wall versus a window.
  8. Tip 8: Have a window in your bathroom
    1. This will allow for natural ventilation and will save on using the fan, which saves on power usage especially in the winter months, especially those off grid and needing to use less energy.
  9. Tip 9: Plants love being in front of the south facing windows.
    1. Placing your house plants near the south windows will allow your plants to thrive. I have enjoyed having my herbs in the south facing windows and in front of my kitchen sink for easy use when preparing meals and they grow superbly.
    2. If you are a gardener, growing your seed starts in the south windows is great. I have enjoyed this.
  10. Tip 10: Place your Kitchen near the South windows
    1. If you enjoy plants this allows for easy watering of your plants.
    2. Also, by having your kitchen near the south windows, your kitchen is filled with natural light, which can save on energy usage.

We hope these tips help to get you thinking when you are preparing to build off grid or on grid, or are remodeling your home.  Enjoy!



2 thoughts on “10 Tips for Building Your Off Grid or On Grid Home

  1. Mark and Krista – wonderful Passive Solar Design principles. One clarification on tip 3, the 2′ south facing eaves. It’s as a good rule of thumb to illustrate the important principle of blocking out unwanted summer sun when the it is higher in the sky and allowing in winter sun when it is lower in the sky. The length of this eaves should be carefully designed and adjusted depending on your latitude and a few other details.

    For example, Salt Lake City at 41 degrees North has a different ideal length of overhang ( a shorter one) than Edmonton at Alberta at 54 degrees North. To calculate a precise overhang it is best to do a scale drawing of the window arrangement with the header ht., fascia size, estimated overhang etc. (2 feet is a good starting point). Then add to the drawing the winter and summer angles of the sun to figure out the ideal length of the overhang that would either allow the sun to penetrate the window, or not. It sounds difficult, but it is actually simple (once you draft it out).

    It’s amazing how this ideal overhang length changes subtly from design to design. I recently built a guest room with a bank of 2′ south facing clerestory windows. Here at our 52 degree northern latitude the ideal length of the eaves ended up at 15 inches, simply because I had raised up the header. It surprised me. So I’d recommend to take time to always double check the eaves length, at the design stage of course.

    You’ve presented a really good primer on good home design that maximizes natural lighting and solar gain. The thermal mass of a concrete floor to provide tempering of cooling and heating, is an excellent point as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bruce,
    Thank you for this added information. You are absolutely correct when it comes to designing the eaves for maximum solar gain during the winter months and to no solar gain during the summer. When it comes to eave design, I am a novice. I also forgot to add that if a person is south of the equator; they want their home’s windows to face north and to flip in their minds everything I said about north and south.


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