Do you dream of living in self-sufficient houses? Would you be willing to reform your current home for a more sustainable and eco-friendly one?
The demand for this type of housing has grown exponentially in recent years. Especially because society has had to adapt to a much more environmentally responsible lifestyle.
Their success lies in the fact that they are capable of taking advantage of natural resources to reduce the impact generated by their construction and their subsequent use at an environmental level.
They also allow you to save up to 75% energy on a household scale, which is fantastic in the modern age.
In Spain, important advances have been made in this area. Starting this year all new buildings must have practically zero energy consumption. This measure is intended to achieve Europe’s goal of fully sustainable new construction. This was enacted by the European directive on energy efficiency.
Self-sufficient houses are characterized by consuming the least amount of energy possible. They are designed to reduce energy needs by up to 75%.
This puts a great fact on the table: 25% of the remaining energy can be obtained from renewable and natural sources without harming the environment. Self-sufficient houses are intrinsically related to sustainability.
Undoubtedly, today the use of renewable energies in Architecture and Construction projects represents a prelude to success. Especially because the planet needs everyone’s efforts so as not to suffer so harshly the ravages of climate change, pollution, or the indiscriminate use of its natural resources.
Self-sufficient houses are a great environmental and monetary bet. You wonder why? The reason is simple: this type of construction has almost zero energy cost for its owners.
Saving energy is the ultimate goal of sustainable and environmentally responsible constructions. It’s not just about using certain saving materials. Nor is it a matter of sympathizing with a particular architectural style. What is sought is to optimize the resources to the maximum.
That is why it is understandable that both architects make sure to take full advantage of the material and natural resources that are within their reach. This implies taking care of details such as the orientation, its design, or its type of ventilation (just to mention a few).
These houses are energy efficient, promote electrical self-consumption, and are much more sustainable. If you are determined to save on your electricity bill or even say goodbye to the exorbitant rates of the electricity sector, do not hesitate to bet on self-sufficient houses.
They will become your perfect solution to save money and energy. In addition, you will be contributing to a cleaner planet.
Building self-sufficient, off-grid homes involve two major basic principles. We will explain them in detail below:
Passive Management design encompasses a series of important factors, which ultimately make up the perfect home to save money, resources and energy. Each of them promotes the maximum use of natural resources. The wind, sun, soil, humidity, weather, and orography, are some of the most outstanding.
In the next segment, we will cover these elements in greater depth so that you better understand what we are talking about.
The architect must design a house completely adjusted to the needs of its inhabitants. Housing needs to encourage savings, but it also must be comfortable enough for its owners to feel comfortable in it. The design must reduce the surface that is in contact with the outside to achieve the expected air conditioning results.
In other words, the purpose of this is to capture as much solar radiation as possible during the winter and minimize it during the summer. To do this, a perfect interior distribution of walls and windows must be made. Otherwise, this resource would be dramatically wasted.
This point is also closely related to housing design. It is one of the critical success factors in these cases. The architect must do a great job when distributing the windows or solar panels of the house, to promote energy savings in depth.
In some countries, it is common to orient the kitchen towards the east, since that is where people spend most of the morning. While the rooms are located to the west to make the most of the last rays of the sun.
The previous section should give you an idea of how important it is to take care of the orientation of the house so that it consumes the least possible amount of energy in air conditioning.
Thermal insulation is crucial to reducing energy consumption in the home. If the floor, walls, and roofs are properly insulated, the transfer of heat or cold between the interior and exterior of the house decreases.
Consequently, energy is used more efficiently, which has favorable repercussions for the planet and your finances. If there is one thing you should be very clear about, it is that self-sufficient houses have high environmental benefits, thanks to the fact that their insulation is superior to that which has been traditionally used.
In effect, these thermal insulations create ideal comfort inside the house and eliminate the need to use conventional air conditioning systems. The latter are highly polluting because they consume fossil or non-renewable energy, which is critical at an environmental level.
Undoubtedly, doors and windows must be well insulated since heat or cold losses are generated through them. For this reason, high-quality doors and windows are installed in self-sufficient houses capable of retaining hot/cold energy.
Another great idea to insulate a home of this type is to use green roofs, or vertical gardens, as natural methods of insulation. Vegetation is very useful to reduce the transfer of heat or cold between the interior and exterior of the house and added to that, it also creates protection against the wind.
Self-sufficient houses are not only characterized by saving energy, but also by taking advantage of another great resource: water. They generally have a special tank to collect rainwater, and in this way, the demand for drinking water in the home is significantly reduced. Water can be collected using one of the two systems listed below:
It works as follows: the water is collected through the roof of the house and then it is taken to an underground tank through its downspouts. Commonly the tank stores up to 10,000 liters at a stable temperature, which is extremely positive. Regarding the filtering process, you should know that it begins at the time of collection and ends during the final consumption of the water resource.
If this option calls your attention, you should make sure to legalize the water well before doing anything else. Then an extraction pump must be installed in the underground tank so that the whole system works efficiently. In this way, the minimum water level can be maintained when filling the tank with rainwater or groundwater.
Saving water is also your responsibility. That is why you must become aware of its consumption at the domestic level so that you do not waste it unnecessarily. Keep in mind that only 4% of the water you use at home is for your consumption. The rest is used in the activities you do every day, such as bathing, washing dishes, or flushing toilets.
When you take a shower you use 37% of the water in your home. While another 23% of water is flushed down the toilet when you relieve yourself. If you take the responsible consumption of this resource seriously, you will notice improvements at a financial level. Although you will also be contributing your grain of sand to take care of the planet.
The design of Active Management is another of the great principles of the construction of self-sufficient houses. For this reason, we will delve into its elements immediately.
Self-sufficient homes often have solar thermal panels to make the most of solar energy. In this way, the necessary heat is generated to warm up the water.
Photovoltaic panels are capable of generating electricity from the solar rays they capture. Its operation consists of converting solar radiation into electrical energy. But its degree of efficiency will depend on the number of panels that are placed in the home, as well as their position and orientation.
Both the passive and active management design favors the construction of self-sufficient houses disconnected from the network. If taken into consideration from the beginning, the house will have good energy supplies. Consequently, their owners will feel a high degree of comfort in their new home.
And best of all, the house will be 100% conceived to obtain energy from renewable sources, which is deeply ecological.
Self-sufficient houses have multiple advantages and benefits, but below we will list the most outstanding ones:
Designing sustainable houses that use the solar component is the main challenge that several students from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC) will have in the middle of next year in France, where they will participate in the European Solar Decathlon. The 40 students from 13 different careers will present a design based on aspects that include the Costa Rican identity. But, the housing that the national delegation will present will be focused on the needs of the elderly. It will comply with everything the law and some innovative resources that we want to add to it.
The design has to be developed as if it were a Lego, gradually attaching it to the module so that each one of the pieces fits together, to have the greatest optimization of time to build. This is leading us to use eco-friendly materials depending on the extras that you want to add to the house, you will reach a specific amount of money, the student quoted. In its most basic version, the house would cost 60 thousand dollars and in its complete version, it would cost around 120 thousand dollars.
The students estimate that the entire cost of the project and the participation may be around 420’000 Dollars. The group has students from careers such as Mechatronics, Administration, Electronics, Construction, and Design, among others. The main concept is the change of prefabricated construction that has been handled throughout the years.
Without a doubt, self-sufficient houses are a big bet nowadays. They are perfect because they allow you to inhabit the house of your dreams without compromising the planet. At the same time, they help you save money, which is of vital importance in the immediate future, especially given the complex situation that awaits us financially. Think about it, they are your best card to save energy and water. So if you are interested in preserving these resources in the future, you need to know more about this type of housing as soon as possible.