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How to Build a Totally Self-Sustaining Home

Last Updated: September 26, 2021

Are you attempting to live a more self-sustaining lifestyle? Do you believe your house is preventing you from achieving this objective? It appears that there are only two options.

You may either start from the ground up or continue to improve the home you currently live in to be more self-sustaining. You’ll either need to use essential components or build them into your existing house. I’d like to go through the essentials of self-sustaining homes with you.

You may then evaluate which elements you may include into your current house or future house plans. You can also obtain an indication of where this fits in with your present budget. Here are the key things to know about living in a self-sufficient home:

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Self-Sustained Home

Four Walls and a Roof

Despite the fact that the average number of people in a US household has declined from 3.3 to 2.54 since 1960, the desire for larger homes continues to expand.

Indoor air pollutants from construction materials can be up to five times greater than outdoor pollution. In addition, such a huge area would require more energy, heating, and cooling.

To minimize construction’s environmental effects, materials should be recycled, salvaged, sourced locally, renewable, durable, and most importantly have a low carbon footprint.

The Earthship

Recycled automobile tires, aluminum cans, and glass bottles encased in rammed earth are the Earthship’s main construction materials – an ancient technique that builds robust, non-combustible walls.

Because of this, the structure is able to achieve thermal mass. This helps the home maintain a consistent temperature in winter and keep cool in summer without the need for separate heating or cooling systems.

It’s a great concept to recover materials that would have ended up in a landfill, but there are other options available when it comes to creating a green house. Modern cob homes are constructed of soil and straw, are low-cost to produce, and are fire-resistant and earthquake-resistant.

The Hemp House

Another is the hemp house, constructed with Hempcrete – a mixture of industrial hemp, lime, and water.

Vegetation rooftops, also known as green roofs, reduce heat loss and stormwater runoff while also cleaning the air. You can even find deconstructed building components at marketplaces like PlanetReuse that include recycled materials.


off-grid solar system

The United States consumed 4.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2020, 66% of it coming from fossil fuels.

The use of renewable and clean energy sources is increasing, as technological breakthroughs and falling costs continue to make small-scale, off-grid systems practical and cheap. The transition away from coal and natural gas toward cleaner and more sustainable solutions is becoming increasingly accessible, as technological advancements and declining prices continue to make tiny-scale, off-grid systems feasible

Here is a DIY Off-Grid Solar System (Blog Post)

Depending on the site orientation and location, solar power, wind power, or a combination of the two may be viable choices. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are most effective in the southwestern part of the United States, although residents of almost any region may benefit from a solar array provided that it is placed in an area with direct sunshine.

There are several things to think about before selecting a renewable energy system, but once put in place, it will ensure that your home receives clean (and free!) power every day.

Hidden Content

Water & Waste Management

According to the UN World Water Development Report, we are heading into a global water crisis. If demand for water stays at present levels, we will face a 40% deficit in just 15 years.

Water scarcity will soon be a fact of life in all 50 states, according to the report. Even bleaker still, water shortages are anticipated for 40 of the 50 states over the next ten years. Unless we make a sea change in how we use and treat this inexhaustible resource, water scarcity will become an inevitable part of daily life.

Related post: Off-Grid Water Systems You Can DIY in No Time

Rainwater harvesting is a self-sufficient option for water scarcity by gathering precipitation on a catchment surface, such as a roof.

A reliable water supply is necessary for the water in a shipping container. It’s pumped, then filtered, and gravity-fed into a cistern (for water pressure) before being put through the pump system (for holding up to six people).

Solar water heaters can be used to supply most, if not all, of your hot water requirements; a backup natural gas or biodiesel on-demand water heater may also be utilized as a supplement.

What To Do With Grey Water

Here’s where things get even more environmental-friendly: the potable water is collected and recycled three additional times after it has been used for bathing, laundry, cleaning, and so on. The majority of this “grey water” is made up of food particles, soap residue, cleaning chemicals, filth, oil, and hair.

Before it is sent to the greenhouse, large particles are removed (more on that later) so it can water and nourish edible plants.

The grey water is cleaned and filtered by the garden soil and plant root systems as it passes through the landscape, and once this has been done, the water is collected to supply clear, odor-free water to flushing toilets.

What To Do With Black Water

Finally, toilets’ flushwater, known as “black water,” is stored and treated in a solar septic tank.

For non-edible plants, black water may be funneled to a drain field or used for outdoor irrigation.

A visual representation of this marvelous setup can be found here.


Three Sisters Garden

The Earthship’s crowning achievement is the ability to produce your own organic food all year. Because the Earthship is a passive solar structure, sun-facing windows are required to absorb heat from the sun.

This glass wall is ideal for fruits, vegetables, herbs, and blooming plants, with plenty of growing room for a small family. The household’s grey water, which is nitrogen-rich and completely safe for food-bearing plants, is automatically pumped to the indoor garden – resulting in far less regular upkeep.

Want to know how to preserve your harvest and food so that they last longer? Here is The 7 DIY Food Preservation Methods 

When using grey water for irrigation, it’s best to clean with products that are natural, biodegradable, and non-toxic.

A personal favorite of mine: The Homestead Gardens Starting Guide

By the time you finish reading this report, you’ll know how to start a year-long producing garden from scratch, even if you don’t have a green thumb! Learn more here.

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