Your self-sufficient Highland home


Not so long ago a but ’n’ ben in the Scottish Highlands would have had an open hearth and little else.

Now, however, homes in some of Scotland’s remotest and most beautiful locations benefit from innovative systems for generating electricity and providing heating.

Along with new technology for staying in touch with the ‘outside world’, this means you can future-proof your property and enjoy self-sufficient living.

And because low-carbon features such as wind turbines, solar panels and wood fuel boilers use renewable sources of energy, you can actually lower fuel bills while reducing your carbon footprint. Some of the systems may even be eligible for Government funding.

So, gather round and enjoy the warmth with s1homes as we take a closer look at must-have features for living as off-grid as possible.


Solar panels

Very soon we won’t need a ray of sunshine to harness the power of the sun. University of Queensland researchers have developed panels that can produce electricity even in cloudy and wet weather – perfect for Scotland!

The material is printable, flexible and transparent so it can be applied as a film to walls and windows.

If you’re keen to bring sunshine into your life right now, however, check out whether current solar panel kits could work for your location. Remember that roof or garden space and the number of people living in your house will be key factors.


Wood-fuelled systems

Sometimes simple is best and the living flame has been with us since a des res was a dry cave. But today’s wood-fuelled heating systems include super-efficient biomass boilers and pellet stoves.

These can supply all of a home’s heating needs but run on renewable sources. The CO2 emitted when wood is burned is the same amount absorbed over the years when the tree was growing, making the process sustainable as long as trees are replaced.


Wind turbines

You don’t need a house fit for Windy Miller to enjoy the benefits of a stiff Scottish breeze. Small-scale wind generators can compliment off-grid solar panel systems and biomass boilers in locations with open, exposed areas and smooth air flow.

New turbines often use a furling mechanism for protection from gale-force winds: good to know after our recent spate of storms!


Heat pumps

These are especially good at providing ‘low temperature’ heat, such as underfloor heating.

A ground source heat pump requires a garden to bury the ground loop, so if there’s limited outdoors space, an air-source pump is the better option. For this you’ll need enough room for it to be placed an outside wall or on the ground.


A battery bank

To get the most from renewable energy systems, the total amount of daily charging energy from all sources should exceed your home’s daily needs. A back-up battery bank offers stored energy between charging periods and with careful planning can run many household items.

Batteries are far from being environmentally friendly, but a huge percentage of lead-acid versions are increasingly being recycled, with the lead and plastic going to make new units.



Living off-grid doesn’t mean living offline: 4G coverage in many parts of rural Scotland is at record levels thanks to a boost in the number of masts. In fact, EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator and part of BT Group, has switched on 2300 4G sites across Scotland since 2012.

Improved coverage allows phone calls and 4G home routers to provide average download speeds of more than 30Mbps.

Of course, 5G has become the technology talking point of 2020. Its imminent roll-out could be a gamechanger for communications in Scotland – and life-changing for people living off-grid in the Highlands and Islands.


Funding opportunities

Did you know there are loans available to owner occupiers and eligible registered private sector landlords in Scotland for renewables systems and energy storage? Cashback grants are also available for a limited time for certain energy efficiency improvements.

You can find out more by calling Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.


If you’re tempted by the freedom of living off-grid among Scotland’s wonderful and far-flung scenery, check out self-sufficient properties for sale or rent right now on s1homes.

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