When we first saw the listing for our home on the market, we were prepared to give up many of the modern day essentials. But, we quickly realized, after seeing a big screen TV in the living room, that our idea of ‘off-the-grid’ living wasn’t necessarily so rugged.
‘Off-the-grid’ simply means that we are living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on the public utility system. We do not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas or the hydro grid.
Our water source is drawn from a spring-fed well; there is a septic system and our heating is provided by two woodstoves. There is also a propane furnace that is programmed to come on if the temperature drops below a certain level. Our energy is provided by eight 120-watt solar panels and a 1000-watt wind turbine, mounted on a 65-foot tower. The solar and wind energy pass through separate charge controllers which then charge a 24-volt battery system. The energy then passes through an inverter which converts the energy from DC (battery voltage) into 110 watts AC (home power). If the energy demand exceeds the supply from the sun and/or wind, a propane generator automatically kicks in to charge the batteries.
During 2008, Nature’s Harmony received funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation under the Northern Energy Program. Nature’s Harmony was grateful to receive this funding as it allowed us to upgrade the existing energy system to be able to accommodate the increased demands by operating a B&B in our home an to substantially reduce our reliance on the propane generator. In addition, the funding was used to install a basic solar system in one of our cabins.
Our connection to the outside world is through our satellite internet system. We have high speed internet and the phone operates using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) through the satellite internet.
We have had many people ask us why we don’t connect to the ‘grid’. For one, it would be too costly to bring in – but, more importantly this is a lifestyle that we have chosen and are very proud to live.
Living off-the-grid isn’t all that much different than living in the city except that we have become much more conscious about our energy consumption. Through this awareness we have discovered many simple ways to conserve on energy and lessen our impact on the environment. Living off-the-grid continually challenges us to think outside the box to find new ways to live more sustainably. You don’t need to live off-the-grid to make a difference. Many of these simple changes can be implemented whether you are off the grid or in the city.