Building a zero-energy home.
I want to design and build in the next 5 years a house on Mobile Bay that is 100% off grid. There is plenty of sun here, and water is easily accesed, too, as most of the properties I'm looking at are agricultural and already have wells and leach fields. I would like more wind here, but you can't have everything.
As for an American home being 100% off grid, I just saw an episode of "Living with Ed" that toured Jackson Brown's California home which is totally off grid. As well as being a pretty luxurious barn-style house, it's the first non-experimental self powered home I've seen.
So the questions I have are:
1. Home design/Plot planning. How best to design the house and orient it to best make use of solar energy and light without unnecesarily heating the house.
2. Structural materials. What are the most efficient materials to build a 0-Energy home from? Concrete? Log/stone? Other?
3. Isulation/Windows. What are the best types of insulation and energy efficient glass for a home?
4. Energy supply sources. What is available in high-efficiency solar panels and wind generators? What other forms of power generation are available?
5. Electrical power storage? Once the electricity is generated, how best to store it? Manage it?
6. Hot Water. What is the most efficient method of heating water and storing heated water?
7. What else should we know or consider?