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Five Eco-Friendly Houses to Try Green Living Before You Buy

Shrugging off the trappings of our resource-intensive society for something a little less damaging to the environment is no easy feat, so perhaps it's wise to consider renting an eco-friendly pad before committing to a purchase. To that end, a quick search of the vacation-rental site AirBnb turns up some awesome places to try out green living. Up first is the itHouse in the desert enclave of Pioneertown, Calif. Equipped with solar panels, well water, and glass walls, the one-bedroom house is completely "off-the-grid." The self-sufficient structure rents for $350 per night and lies some two hours outside of Los Angeles, not far from Palm Springs. Like many of that town's modernist homes, the itHouse has a clean aesthetic that makes the sacrifices more bearable.

? Nestled in a leafy jungle environment on the eastern coast of Hawaii's Big Island, Mahi Oli'Oli uses solar panels to power the fridge and "mood lighting," but the house relies on trade winds, rather than air conditioning, to cool the interiors. The well-appointed one bedroom sits on a six acre parcel with sweeping ocean views over the palm tree tops. Renting for just $115 per night, Mahi Oli'Oli takes full advantage of its tropical setting.

? Set on the ground floor of an eco-friendly townhouse in San Francisco's Mission District, this studio is accessed down a gated passageway at the rear of the house. Guests are supplied with two bikes for low-impact touring. The water is heated by solar power and solar provides some of the electricity. The only downside is that the owner is currently constructing the Zero Cottage, a "net-zero solar house," in the courtyard. Rent is around $130 per night.

? Not every green vacation home is located in some sunny locale. This one, in Bishop, Calif. on the interior of the Sierra Mountains, is often covered in piles of snow during the winter, but a litany of features help keep the environmental impact down. There's a "passive solar design for winter warmth and summer cooling, solar hot water, solar radiant floors, heat recovery ventilator, drain heat recovery that recycles the heat from your hot shower, and even a solar heated hot tub!" The rent is $275 per night.

? All of these American attempts at living off the grid pale in comparison to the lengths that the Swedes are willing to go for the environment. The Kolarbyn in Skinnskatteberg, Sweden is, intentionally, the "most primitive hotel" in Sweden. The accommodations consist of twelve huts built from stone, earth, and wood, and cost $50 per person per night. This sort of subterranean living is simply impractical for modern humans, but that shouldn't keep you from trying it out...and feeling much better when you return home.
· itHouse Pioneertown [AirBnb]
· Mahi Oli'Oli [AirBnb]
· Mission Garden Apartment [AirBnb]
· Eco-Home with Stunning Views [AirBnb]
· Sweden Subterranean [AirBnb]