One of the things Wife and I crossed a third of the world to do, apart from bring Wife back to her homeland, was to build a family home for the generations to come. Not just any home mark you, but a mostly self sufficient house with non-dependent heating systems, water, electrical power etc to keep me and mine safe and snug, even if the rest of the world went to hell in a handbasket.
There are others who have tried this approach with their 'back to nature' model with such measures as earth closets. I like my plumbing a little more sophisticated, and while crossing Canada was reminded of the noisome horror of such toilets in the height of summer. Besides, I want it to be a place I am happy to admit guests to, and don't want them going home with stories about 'roughing it'. I've done my share of sleeping under hedgerows, in sheds, and smoky, poky little rooms, and quite frankly that's for masochists. My thoughts circulate around a well constructed and insulated shell with an open plan feel about it. That and a comfortable bed to sleep in at night.
To this end, Wife and I have spent months poring over house designs, studying issues like 'passive solar heating', air circulation, power generation and heating. All of the aforementioned appear at the moment of writing to be little more than partial solutions. Especially just above the 49th parallel. More research is needed.