It’s known as living off the grid, living in a dwelling that doesn’t get its electricity or usually water from local utility systems. While some off-the-grid homes are little more than tents in a rain forest, some are luxurious mansions built near whale migratory paths, complete with airy and modern kitchens and all the services powered by solar cells, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Because the homes need to be self-sufficient, they are considered environmentally friendly in the traditional sense of the term, but that doesn’t mean the environment is always human-friendly. One homeowner whose off-the-grid mansion is in Costa Rica said he once spent some time in the hospital recovering from pit viper bites. He’s pictured in the article, sharing a couch with his fiancée, with whom he shares the home, and a small monkey.
He takes pride in the fact that he makes his own electricity, gets his own water from a well, and makes his own food (he’s a farmer). The house, however, took more than 10 years to design and build, at a cost of more than $3 million. About 25 workers lived on the site for three and a half years while the house was being built.
Other off-the-grid homeowners say making their own electricity has made it necessary to adjust some aspects of their lifestyle. “There is certainly a learning curve. When people come over, we roll our eyes when they walk out of a room and don’t turn the lights off,” the Journal quoted another owner as saying. It has its advantages, though. While he said his neighbors lose power a few times a year due to snowstorms, “we never have our power out.”
Off-Grid.net is an eclectic mix of practical advice for off-the-grid living, news from the on-grid world, and issues rarely covered by the mainstream media.
Renewable Energy World.com also offers practical advice in a blog format for making the journey from being dependent on fossil fuels and the local utilities to living off the grid.
Research suggests that people who live off the grid, even though they often have no formal training in architecture or construction, manage to build their own homes. They do so thanks to what are known as “regenerative life skills,” research out of Royal Roads University in British Columbia says.
Phillip Vannini and Jonathan Taggart reported earlier this year in the journal Cultural Geographies that rather than taking on home-building on their own, “off-grid builders engage in relational practices, becoming entangled with others, with historical traditions, with place-specific resources, and with the affordances of the materials they utilize.”