Autotroph: Solar Energy is the Catalyst

The idea behind Autotroph is to create a fully self-sustainable home that provides all its essential needs using resources found on site. This is no ordinary homestead. Located in the beautiful rural heart of the United Kingdom, designer Steven Marshall’s home provides a showcase of integrated sustainability that is at the forefront of innovative design and practical application.

Here, we explore the ecological benefits of Autotroph, as well as the unique design and technology that makes this particular homestead special.

Solar Energy

One of the defining features of Autotroph is its reliance on solar energy to provide all the household’s needs. This includes space heating, domestic hot water heating, food preparation and lighting. The 2.7kW (3.3 hp) rooftop photovoltaic solar array helps to generate an impressive 20.8kW (26.8 hp) of electricity that is directly available to use. This power is sufficient to meet the needs of the entire household, including the requirement for a vacuum cleaner.

The array is made up of 48 Solarguards, each measuring 10 watts (this is the amount of electricity required to power a standard light bulb for one hour). The Solarguards are interlocked with deep-cycle batteries, which store the energy generated during the day for use at night. When the sun begins to set and the wind stops blowing, the batteries effectively supply all the power needs of the home. The result is a more reliable and efficient energy supply that is both pollution-free and sustainable.


Another area that could not be sustained without adequate water supplies is food preparation and garden watering. To cater for this, Autotroph is equipped with a 8.8kW (12 hp) water tank that stores enough water to last the household for up to four months. The tank is placed on the roof of the house, and as a result, is always available for use. This means that the residents of Autotroph never experience water shortages.

In the event of an emergency, the tank can be refilled from a standing water source, such as a hosepipe or a rainwater tank. Although this is an effective solution in terms of providing immediate access to drinking water, it cannot match the long-term storage that is available from a home water tank.


To reduce energy bills and ensure a constant warm environment within the home, Autotroph is equipped with a 5kW (7 hp) heat pump that provides domestic hot water. This is a major plus point of the scheme, especially when you consider that many heat pumps become inoperable in sub-freezing temperatures. The installation of the Heat Pump eliminates the need for an additional space heater, helping to keep electricity costs down. In the summer months, the heat pump can produce some pretty high temperatures, reaching 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23.8 degrees Celsius), so you can be sure that you will always have a warm home.

Sustainable Materials

To ensure that the home sustains itself over time, Autotroph is constructed using natural and sustainable materials. Forest materials such as wood and bamboo are prominently featured throughout the home, helping to reduce its carbon footprint. Recycle centers throughout the world struggle to deal with the volumes of plastic waste that surround us, so it is important that we are conscious of the materials We use and find alternatives to plastic and paper where possible. The result is a more sustainable and eco-friendly home that has no detrimental impact on the environment.

To reduce plastic waste, Autotroph is equipped with a 3kW (4.4 hp) water dispenser that uses only biodegradable packaging. Similarly, the toilet paper and hand soap dispensers are also manufactured using sustainable materials, such as bamboo and coconut fibers.

Indulge Your Senses

Speaking of sustainable living, it is important to look at how we can reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources and eliminate our carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways to do this is by choosing to live a life of luxury within the home. This can mean anything from adding extra lighting to enjoying spa treatments, so it is important that we examine our needs and wants and work hard to satisfy them. This way, we can indulge our senses and enjoy life without regrets.

For example, the wood floors and the wooden wall paneling have been designed to provide a cool and welcoming contrast to the warm interior spaces. The result is a feeling of luxury and comfort that is enhanced by natural light and good design. The wood flooring has also been chosen for its ability to absorb sound, which reduces the need for additional acoustic treatment.

Fully Stocked Kitchen

An amazing thing about the kitchen inside Autotroph is that it is fully stocked with every appliance and piece of kit imaginable. In addition to the 5kW (7 hp) heat pump, which provides domestic hot water, the kitchen is equipped with a 2.1kW (2.7 hp) solar cooker, a 1.65kW (2.2 hp) induction cooker, and a 2.7kW (3.3 hp) oven. All of this adds up to a huge amount of cooking power that is available to use whenever you want. The kitchen’s design is practical and easy to use, with lots of space for everyone to work and enjoy cooking together.

With so much equipment available, it is no surprise that the kitchen plays a big role in satisfying the needs of the residents of Autotroph. The team looked to renowned British chef Heston Blumenthal for inspiration in creating this space, and he has assured them that it is one of the best equipped kitchens he has ever seen.


For something a little different, Steven and Elizabeth, the couple who live in Autotroph, also have a bespoke double bed that runs on a timer so that it can be manually activated by either party. The result is a luxurious night’s sleep that is always prepared and waiting to be enjoyed by either or both residents.

Bedding plays a big part in the life of a homeowner, so it is important that we find ways to indulge ourselves and make the most of this essential part of a house. This could mean anything from an upgrade in the shape of your bed or the location of your night stand to an enhancement of your bedroom’s décor and furniture. If money is no object, why not hire a high-end mattress company to make your bed more comfortable and take the strain out of a bad night’s sleep? Beds are of paramount importance, so make sure that yours is prepared and waiting for you each and every night, just like the couple’s in Autotroph!


One of the primary goals in designing a home such as Autotroph was to make sure that it provides comfort and joy to its residents. As a result, the scheme features an extraordinary amount of soft furnishings, such as feather duvet and pillows. These are designed to keep people cosy and create a sense of peace and wellbeing. The use of natural materials such as wooden floors and bamboo furniture not only provides a cool contrast to the warmth of the home’s interior spaces but can also improve air quality by reducing the need for additional heating and cooling systems.

These are just some of the features that set Autotroph apart and make it a truly memorable place to live. Its location in the countryside provides residents with stunning vistas of green fields and rolling hills that are a picture postcard to anyone who stops by. In addition, the ability to generate all of the household’s electricity needs from the solar array and rooftop water tank puts an end to any power or water shortages once and for all. It is currently available to purchase through a shared equity scheme, with the purchase price including property insurance and mortgage payments.

This article explores the benefits of living in a sustainable manner, as well as the innovative design and technology that makes this particular homestead special. The focus is on cutting back on your carbon footprint, saving money, and taking better care of the environment.

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