Lots of people TALK about being energy-reliant, but not many people take action. So this awesome article is not only valuable but fun and it certainly gives the rest of us a valuable perspective.
2007 was a stressful year for me and my wife. We were caught in the pace of the relentless city. My small construction company had grown to a point that was too much, and it was wearing on my health. My wife was very unhappy with her job . Although we lived in a nice neighborhood, it was not far enough away from constant traffic, emergency sirens, traffic helicopters and barking dogs. Our noisy neighbors were constantly coming and going at all hours of the night. All we wanted was some peace and quiet in our lives.
My wife had wanted to get out of the city for a long time, so we finally made the decision to move to the mountains. We started looking in an area that we both loved and found the perfect home right away. It was in a quiet area, off the beaten path. The house overlooked a lake surrounded by mountains. It was perfect except for one thing: it was completely off the grid.
The author and his wife in front of their solar-powered home
The home was powered with a solar power system and a backup generator. The primary heating source was a wood burning stove. Compared to our city life this was quite a change, but we decided that we were up to the challenge. This would mean no more city nightlife or walking to restaurants for dinner, but this was a small price to pay for the peacefulness and fresh mountain air of the Colorado Rockies. We made the move to our new home in the middle of a record-snowfall winter.
We saw our off grid status as a challenge at first, but now it is a way of life. We are always conscious of our power usage. We only use lights when necessary and never leave lights on when we are not using a room. Everything is plugged into power strips and turned off at night. Laundry waits for sunny days and we hang almost everything to dry. We do own a TV, but only use it to watch DVDs once in a while. We do not have a microwave and do not use any unnecessary appliances that use excess power. We do a lot of snow removal, especially from our solar panels in the morning.
We use the sun to our advantage, allowing passive solar to heat our house during the winter. We cool our house in the summer with the cool evening air. We installed a wind generator to make the most of afternoon winds as well as stormy days. We are much more in tune with our weather than we have ever been before. On sunny days we do not have to worry as much about our consumption. When we have rain or snow, we have to be more careful.
Living off the grid was a challenge to us at first, but now it is our way of life. It comes naturally to us and we are both so happy to live here. Not a day goes by where we are not grateful for all that we have.
Kriss Bergethon is a writer and solar expert from Colorado. You can visit his site at Solar Panels for more information.