What does living off the grid mean to you? Perhaps you imagine an isolated shack, where you grow your own fruits and vegetables, perhaps with a few chickens scampering around. This hermit-style existence isn't exactly feasible in the suburbs, but in a way, it's possible to live off the grid, at least partially—the electricity grid, that is. It's certainly possible to build a new home that is largely self-sufficient in terms of its electricity consumption. There are three key additions to consider, which can easily be implemented into residential building design.
Installing solar panels on the roof of a dwelling is about the most obvious contribution to making a home self-sufficient with its electricity usage. You could even say that it's an encouraged contribution, with a number of different government rebates available. These vary depending on where your home will be built, but as an example, homes in Victoria can be eligible for a rebate of up to 50% of the cost of the system. If you suspect that the look of solar panels will be obtrusive and will not complement the design of your new home, don't let this deter you. You can install solar panels with hidden photovoltaic cells, which can resemble traditional roofing.
You might think of wind turbine generators as being a mammoth tower with a gigantic propellor at its peak. Hardly suitable for a new residential home, are they? Naturally, there's a home version which can be installed on the roof of a suburban property. It's comprised of a surprisingly small cylindrical design with vertical blades, as opposed to an outward-facing propeller. It's not possible to hide such a feature, but it's not as obvious as you might think and could easily be mistaken for an ornamental feature when seen on the roof of a home.
A biogas engine is a small incinerator that converts organic waste into electricity. It does so by combusting the material, which creates methane and carbon dioxide. A biogas generator for home use needs to be housed in a detached structure an appropriate distance from your main residence. All your food and garden waste could conceivably be used to power your home, in addition to your other green energy initiatives. This type of generator can be added at a later stage, but it can be best to implement it into the design of a new home so that it can be properly positioned in relation to the new construction, with the necessary cabling laid underground.
These three means of energy production can certainly make a new home self-sufficient, but remember that specific planning permission might be required, so be sure to query this with your new home designer.