LOVE this thread. I am looking to move into the mountains in the southwest and build my retirement semi-natural home (I am no dogmatist, hence 'semi-natural').
I lived in Texas with weather extremes, without electricity and without heating and cooling, for four years after becoming disabled. I was preyed on financially by mortgage companies and insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies and was dirt-poor despite having been a scientist and computer engineer. It was all stolen from me. I understand alternative heating and cooling in a more intimate way than most.
One issue is I have is seasonality. My needs in the summer will be very different than in the winter. Here are two ideas I had that I have never seen discussed elsewhere. I want high ceilings in the summer and low ceilings in the winter. I have thought about constructing some type of temporary loft over my living room with panels that could be easily removed or swung upwards and secured during the summer. The loft could be used for sleeping areas for my grand kids or for temporary storage.
The other idea I had is the refrigerator. Why not have some type of panel behind the fridge that could be opened to the outside to create a cool-area for the fridge in the winter? With an area for cool-storage of fruits and vegetables? I can see lots of issues, like avoiding freezing, but it is something I would like to consider more. I don't like the idea of a cellar so much. Not convenient and I am old and don't like stairs. Also, we had a cellar when I was a kid and had so many problems with it leaking and flooding when it rained. What a nightmare.
I have thought a lot about the business end. Coops, intentional villages, creative mortgages, etc. I leave that to others to pursue as it really IS NOT my cup of tea. And I hope they do pursue it, and soon. Seems like we FINALLY have enough societal momentum to do so. I have waited for this day for many years.
Thanks for the discussion, Tim.