Living Off The Grid Archives - Off-Grid

Category: Living Off The Grid

Brilliant EARTHSHIP Home Makes Off-Grid Life Look Easy

First things first; what is an Earthship? It’s defined as “a passive solar earth shelter made of both natural and upcycled materials.” Such a building, properly designed and executed, requires no utility services from the grid to operate.

The idea behind building an Earthship is that you don’t necessarily have to go back to basics to live off-grid – you only have to be conscious of how you live and your interaction/impact on nature. That is, you can embrace nature by building an environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient Earthship.

In a video published in the Tiny House Giant Journey YouTube channel, Jeff from Big Sky Earthship highlights the self-sufficiency of an Earthship — and we have to admit, he makes off-grid living look easy. Here’s a quick summary of how one of his Earthships in Montana works:

1. Shelter: The Earthship is largely made from recycled, reused, upcycled, and natural materials. Tires, old drums, and other types of scrap that are often thrown away in dumpsters are given a new lease of life.

2. Heating & Cooling: The house heats and cools itself passively and maintains a stable, comfortable temperature year-round, without the need for a centralized AC system.

3. Garbage Management: Aluminum cans and other garbage material are integrated into the structure of the building.

4. Clean Water: Household water is harvested from the roof, stored in cisterns, filtered, pressurized, and pumped into the house.

5. Water Recycling: Grey water from the sinks and shower is used to water the plants.

6. Food: As in any other off-grid living technique, growing your food is a big part of the Earthship owner’s journey of self-sufficiency.

The walk-through of Jeff’s Earthship is both inspiring and a pleasure to see the many ways people can co-exist sustainably with nature in off-grid living.

Brilliant EARTHSHIP Home Makes Off-Grid Life Look Easy
Brilliant EARTHSHIP Home Makes Off-Grid Life Look Easy – Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNekutd-6qM

How To Build A Rainwater Collection System

The idea of harvesting rainwater typically conjures images of cisterns in old farms used to water gardens and provide drinking water for animals. This YouTube video by the City Prepping channel teaches us how to build a rainwater collection system. Such systems can be viable in both urban and rural settings – providing a low-cost way to gather plentiful water and a possible survival supply of water in case the tap water fails for any reason.

Collecting rainwater is inexpensive (virtually free water), you get control over your water supply, it’s easy to maintain, environmentally responsible, reduces runoff water, is modular in nature, it ties in with the self-sufficiency narrative that drives us preppers and off-grid lovers, and as shown below, it’s not all that hard.

• Setting up the Catchment Area and Conveyance System: Rainwater collection system is largely made up of 3 parts; the catchment area (e.g., roof), the conveyance system (piping from the gutter to the tanks), and a storage system. With the gutter, ensure you have a leaf guard to keep large debris from dropping into your downspout and tank. Along these lines, City Prepping also recommends the installation of a downspout first flush water diverter to filter out any big particles that somehow pass through the leaf guard.

• The Storage Tanks: You can use any tank available — but ensure it is food-grade (so that the container itself will not contaminate the water). It should also NEVER have been used to store chemicals or gasoline. Food grade containers that were previously used to store food may be of no use also, as the odors of the food may be all but impossible to eradicate completely – as I once found out with food grade containers that had once been used to store pickled capers! As illustrated in the video, wrap the tank with a black plastic sheet to deter algae growth.

• Preparing the Foundation: The general rule of thumb is to have a firm, level, and stable foundation before installing any structure — including a rainwater collection system. In the video, City Prepping stack concrete blocks to support the tank – which also has the advantage that you can get a bucket under a spigot that is at the bottom of the tank, which is where it should be otherwise you will not get the last of your water out!

Long story short, a rainwater collection system can be a money saver, a crop saver and even a life-saver for daily / emergency use — and building one is not hard.

Note – there are some locations where collection of rainwater is restricted, so please be sure to check the regulations in your area before undertaking a project of this kind.

How To Build A Rainwater Collection System
How To Build A Rainwater Collection System – Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=corcY2AITGs

Video: Eco Dome Housing!

Video- Eco Dome Housing!Video: Eco Dome Housing
Photo – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMNzoWkXTtc

Anything that begins and ends with a quote from the poet Rumi is surely intended to inspire, and this short video by dastonkalili doesn’t disappoint! It will show you the construction process of an awesome “Eco-dome”.

The building method used (known as SuperAdobe) is incredibly simple and produces an organic looking structure that is very resistant to extreme weather – this isn’t surprising when we find out that the technology was first developed by Nader Khalili, former architect to NASA for lunar habitats (hence the Eco-dome’s alternative name of “Moon Cocoon”) – and it even complies with California building codes!

This has to be one of the best low impact building methods to date – there is no cement or structural timber required an almost the entire dome is made with earth! Cement or lime can be added for extra strength but are not necessary. The only other materials needed, apart from the doors and windows, are long bags made from woven polythene – this is the same material that is used for regular sandbags (which can also be used to build a house) and some barbed wire that helps to keep them together.

These Eco-domes have now been built in several countries and have recently been used in the rebuilding of villages in Darfur – you can read lots more about the project from one the workers, here: http://homesforsudan.blogspot.co.uk/

Materials that make up the majority of new buildings are a large contributor to environmental damage and energy use in the world so ideas like the Eco-dome can really make a big difference to the future of our planet. There is a massive difference in cost and the whole process can be completed in a week with a team of three to five people! Sandbags can be used to build a conventional style house too – there are some pictures here: http://sandbaghouse.com/Home.html (although you would be hard pressed to see any difference in the finished houses!).

What about insulation? I hear you ask. Well, during testing in Germany in 2009, a standard 30 cm sandbag wall was found to insulate at least five times better than the typical 15 cm post and beam brick wall that is found all over India, China and many other developing countries! In a colder climate or to meet the thermal insulation requirements of western building codes, extra insulation would be needed.

If you want to know more about any aspect of Eco-domes and their construction, design or materials, please visit the Cal-Earth website: http://calearth.org