More Canadians are embracing renewable energy sources to lower energy expenses and reduce their impact on the environment. Some are taking it a step further, going 100% renewable and removing their homes from the electrical grid. For families who aren’t quite ready to disconnect at home, building a cottage to be off the grid is a way to live more sustainably.
Thanks to technological improvements, building a cottage to be off the grid doesn’t have to mean roughing it in the woods. It’s now possible to live on renewable energy sources almost anywhere, even on a budget.
What is an Off-Grid Cottage?
An off-grid cottage is one that is not connected to large-scale electrical utilities. In some cases, the cottage is built on land without electrical infrastructure. Other times, the infrastructure is in place, but the homeowner has chosen not to connect the cottage or has disconnected after the fact.
Living off the grid doesn’t necessarily mean living completely without electricity. Many families with off-grid cottages generate their own electricity through renewable energy sources, like solar and wind. Renewable energy allows cottage owners to enjoy the comfort and convenience of modern amenities without relying on a utility company.
Off-grid cottages can be simple and rustic or sleek and contemporary; it all depends on what the homeowner wants to build. Building an off-grid cottage allows families to truly unwind and disconnect from urban life however they choose.
Building an Off-Grid Cottage on Renewable Energy
Today, most off-grid cottages are highly energy efficient to take full advantage of renewable energy. Many homeowners opt for pre-fab homes designed to retain the most heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. Off-grid cottages often utilize energy-efficient windows, roofing and siding.
Different parts of Canada are suited to various renewable energy sources. Cottagers here in Southwestern Ontario have ideal conditions for photovoltaic solar panels, while East Coasters can reap the benefits of wind. Some resourceful homeowners on the West Coast harness rainfall and steep terrain to generate small-scale hydroelectricity.
Relying on renewable sources requires a way to store backup electricity on days with unfavourable weather. Fortunately, rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly affordable for cottage owners. Many off-grid cottages also utilize a home energy management system to monitor and conserve energy resources.
Cost of Building a Cottage to be Off the Grid
The cost of building an off-grid cottage depends on the location of the property, the size and style of the cottage, amenities, and the amount of electricity the homeowner wants to use.
Properties without an existing electrical infrastructure cost significantly less than land connected to local utilities. However, some people choose to build their off-grid cottage on land that does have connections so the cottage will appeal to more buyers should the homeowner decide to sell it.
Although the cost of wind and solar technology is decreasing, installing renewable energy infrastructure can be expensive. However, the amount saved on monthly electricity costs will gradually offset the investment.