My Visit To An Off-The-Grid, Straw Bale Home – Part 2
This post is part 2 in a series. Read Part 1 here which describes the site and construction of the property I visited.
I asked the owners how life is different from living in a conventionally built, on-grid home and one thing in particular that struck me was when they said, “While you likely do your laundry at night when electricity costs are lower, we do ours during the day when our solar energy is at its highest production levels.” They do indeed live by the sun. They are keenly aware of where the sun is positioned at certain times of the day and in different seasons. They notice the moon phases and the stars with an appreciation that is inspiring. While they do have a washing machine, they don’t use a dryer. They don’t have a dishwasher, cordless phone or a microwave and, they unplug appliances when not in use to avoid wasting phantom energy. Smoke detectors, CO2 detectors, clocks and the radio run on rechargeable batteries and the lights have 4 Watt LED bulbs. They do have high-speed internet and a TV although they are rarely used. The kids are more inclined to play guitar, play with their toys, read books or spend time outdoors. They have grown up with a consciousness many kids don’t have and are sure to live their lives as appreciative stewards of the environment.
I asked the owners what maintenance is required that may differ from a conventionally built home and really, there is not much. If there is a hairline crack from time to time in the plaster, they patch it. The generator is checked and oiled periodically and they check the levels in the batteries. In the winter, snow must be cleared regularly from the easily accessible solar panels and, wood fed into the woodstove. That’s about it. I also asked them about lessons learned and what they would do differently if they could do it again. They said they would in a heartbeat but maybe with additional solar power so they didn’t need to be quite as conservative. They also commented that it can be harder to arrange insurance or financing when you are off the grid however, they are insured and, lenders will do so with a good down payment.
The family’s lifestyle extends outdoors where there are no chemicals or toxins used. The fact that the ground hums with toads and salamanders while the air buzzes with honey bees is the best testament to the healthy environment they’ve created. The forest is abundant with trilliums in late spring and the hollyhocks and sunflowers tower in the gardens through-out the summer. They wouldn’t trade the clean, country living they’ve come to appreciate every day and I can see why.
I want to say a very special thank-you to the owners for inviting me into their home and offering a glimpse into living off the grid. Oh, and thanks for the free-range, organic eggs from your chickens. Delish!
As an Accredited Green Broker™ with the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers I’m committed to learning and improving sustainability and environmental awareness in real estate. I love to hear YOUR stories so don’t be afraid to share!