The Goods

Canadian Designer Sarah Richardson takes you through her low-carbon footprint home

Going off the grid, room by room

Going off the grid, room by room

(Courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design)

In her new show, Sarah Off the Grid, Canadian designer Sarah Richardson in her family move into a completely off-the-grid home in Creemore, ON. Here is what she did in each room of the house that made life off-the grid possible.


(Courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design)

Her home is set with an insulated concrete form (ICF) foundation. It is further insulated with spray foam and Silverboard sheet. This level of insulation sets the groundwork for the home, and is a permanent way to ensure the structure is energy efficient.

It's smart to invest in solar power. Ideally, you'll be able to install panels on the roof. Unlike Richardson, not everyone can power their entire home with it, but with an investment of approximately $3,500 you can get in the game, and provide enough power for your personal needs including electronics such as a hairdryer, coffee maker and computer.

Vinyl windows will keep hot air from getting out in the cold months, or getting in in the summer. An initial Investment in the best windows you can afford will mean a huge savings on your energy bills later on.


Energy Star-approved appliances are critical if you want to go off the grid, or even just help the planet, and your bottom line, by reducing how much electricity you use. Make sure to look for at an appliance's Energy Star rating before purchasing.

Try to buy low-power drawing appliances, that mean avoiding appliances that run all day, or have digital displays that don't shut off automatically.


(Courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design)

Low flow toilets will help you cut down on your water consumption. On demand water heaters and fans on timers will also help you cut your expenses.

On Sarah Off The Grid, the home does not rely on municipal services and has its own power, water and sewage systems. Similarly, the reuse of salvage materials for both construction and decor also cut down on the home's carbon footprint.

Family Room

(Courtesy of Sarah Richardson Design)

LED lights last roughly 10 years, and draw exponentially less power than a traditional bulb.

Wood burning stoves were added to Sarah's home in order to provide additional heat during the winter months.

Home Office

When electronics are plugged in they are still drawing power. (This is called the "phantom power load.") Use smart equipment to avoid phantom power loads. Sarah chose smart electronics and equipment that truly "shut down" when not in use.

Power bars that run on a timer will also help shut down any unwanted power use when you are not home. Specialty power bars can be programed to boot up when you get home, or shut down while you are out of the house.