Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A zero-energy micro-home for off-grid living

A non-profit green technology company in Romania has unveiled a prefabricated house that has the capacity to be powered entirely by sustainable energies.
If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint, sustainable energy is one of the best ways to go about it. In Australia, most electricity providers offer plans that let you partially use green energy, and there are systems you can fit to your home to take it off-grid.
We're particularly interested, however, in both the small house movement and houses that are specifically designed to make use of green energy. Enter the Soleta zeroEnergy home, created by the Justin Capra Foundation for Sustainable Technologies and Inventions (FITS).
These modular homes come in a range of sizes, starting at 48 square metres for €25,000 (AU$32,105), up to 90 square metres for €57,000 (AU$73,185), and capable, according to the Soleta website, of housing a family of four or five. After that, the houses can be daisy chained together, with larger sizes described, but not yet available. The average Australian home is 214 square metres (PDF).
Although the home can be hooked up to the electrical and water grids, it is also equipped to take advantage of sustainable energy. Solar panels and wind turbines provide power, ageothermal heat pump can provide water heating and water can be collected via a rain tank.
Low-emissivity windows, LED lighting and a pellet-burning stove helps keep power usage low, and the house itself is made from 97 per cent recycled materials. The layout is kept simple: a bathroom, kitchen and living space downstairs, and a mezzanine bedroom, with a staircase providing a handy, tucked-away storage area.
There's currently a Soleta zeroEnergy home on display in Bucharest. It can be seen in the video below. We couldn't understand it either, but the X-Files theme music is pretty interesting. You can also check out more pictures of the homes on the Soleta zeroEnergy website.