Not all authors write or speak of Zone Zero. However, if we remember that zones are set up to identify how often we access an area and how many resources that area uses, the home itself really does separate itself from Zone 1.
The physical home is Zone Zero, and while there are seemingly countess ways that we could better adapt our homes to be more in tune with nature some of those changes are easier and less expensive than others.
1. If you are planning to build a home, be sure to start with where and how you place it on your property. Here are two great resources:
- Successful Small-Scale Farming – An oragnic approach: http://goo.gl/B1GKj
- Building Small Barns, Sheds & Shelters: http://goo.gl/ZDEMj
- You should take into account how the sun moves across the sky and how your house is shaped.
- If your home is a “ranch style” or rectangular in shape, have home situated East to West, long ways. This way when the sun is high in the summer the eaves of the roof will shade most of your windows and walls, lowering cooling costs, and when the sun is low in the winter the warmth will help lower heating costs.
- Know which way the wind blows.
- Letting the wind replace the air in your home with a nice breeze can easily extend the time you can go without having to turn on the air conditioning. Some creative planting can also bring in the scents of herbs and flowers into your home.
2. Plan your other buildings by first asking if your home can help.
- A greenhouse is a great way to extend your growing season, your growing zone, or both. Placing the greenhouse against the wall of your home that gets the most sun will amplify the effectiveness of the greenhouse. The warmth of the sun will radiate off of the wall of your home.
3. Collect rainwater.
- Water is one of our least expensive purchased resources. However, by collecting rainwater we can lessen our reliance on a municipal system and ensure we have water available to us during a municipal outage. This is important to us since we do not have any bodies of water on our property to fall back on.
- Visit the National Weather Service website (in the United States of America) to learn about your average rainfall. Click this sentence to see a past video of ours that will show you how to get to the tool, then use the options “Monthly avg/totals” and “Precipitation” to find the rainfall amounts.
- Get a decent idea for how big your roof is. Then head over to this website and enter in the rainfall information you found and your roof size to find out how many gallons of water you should be able to collect in an average year: http://goo.gl/9h2At
4. Live with modern comforts, but power them in more sustainable ways.
- Before delving into expensive power generation systems you should consider how to lower your power requirements.
- Many electrical devises will use power even when they are “off” – such as a DVD player sitting in “stand-by” mode. Consider putting several items on a power strip that you can easily switch off at bedtime, or any other time those devices are not in use.
- You could go as far us turning off breakers in your electrical panel as well. Removing just 1 item might not make a huge difference, but doing this consistently for all unnecessary electronics will.
- Be sure to make the most of your digital thermostat. Every degree counts towards either saving or spending money. When thinking of cooling your home for the summer: Do you really need the home to be 72F at 2am, or could it be 76F? If nobody is home during the day, does it need to be 76F, or could it stay at 80F, with the timer set to cool the home off only minutes before you come back home?
- Are you performing the maintenance on items like your air filters that you should? Not only does a clogged filter not help your air quality, but it makes your equipment work harder – or in other words, it takes more electricity for it to try to do it’s job.
- There are several ways to generate electricity – the most popular ways being Solar, Wind and Water, though others certainly exist. Whether or not you have a large enough volume of moving water on your property to even attempt water power should be fairly obvious. This is also true for solar power – do you have good access to long periods of sunlight, or is it always cloudy or are their large trees blocking your light. However, wind may be something that requires more study.
- Solar systems involve using a product that can produce small amounts of electricity from the light of the sun. The larger the system is, the more electricity it can produce. These systems can be relatively small, or extremely extravagant. To power an entire home many solar panels, batteries to store the electricity, and several other components are required.
- To see if wind power is a possible option for you we have found the quickest starting point is to make a call to the local National Weather Service office. Just tell them: “I am looking in to generating electricity with wind and was hoping you could tell me what our average wind speed is.” Rest assured, they can, and will happily give you this information. You can then use that information to find out if you really can generate electricity at that speed. Other considerations would be if your home is on a high elevation or down in a valley, how often the wind blows, and how long it sustains that speed.
- Water powered systems involve moving water spinning a generator to produce electricity. Volume and consistency are important.