Letting Mother Nature Work for You
An Alternative to Living Off the Grid
While some might imagine success as an enormous house with countless rooms and over-the-top amenities, some find that living within their means is the way to go. A recent trend with young first-time homebuyers is finding new and unique ways to live off nature and bring downsizing to the extreme.
Summer Stan recently downsized her family’s home by a third, currently living in a 1,000 square foot house. She and her family decided after overwhelming utility bills to take drastic action to cut costs and waste.Along with physically downsizing, Stan is involved in a permaculture club in hopes of reusing her family’s garbage to help grow her garden. Stan uses waste such as old fruits and vegetables as fertilizer for her crops that she and her family harvest.
The notion that people can live off the grid, away from “big brother,” is not entirely accurate.According to Joshua Gellers, a political science professor at the University of North Florida, “you are legally obligated to maintain a connection to the water supply, but it’s not necessarily the case that you need to be connected to the larger electricity grid.”
Gellers says local city ordinances require homeowners to be connected “to the grid” through utilities, but that nowhere does it say you must run the water or turn on the lights. You are not required to actually use the amenities, but due to safety and health concerns, you have to be connected.Since some homeowners are not required to be connected to local electric companies such as Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), one possibility is utilizing sun power through solar panels.
A1A Solar is just one company that offers consultation and products for homes to help diversify energy consumption from simply local utilities, allowing homeowners to cut costs and reliance on the city.
Pete Wilking, president and founder of A1A Solar, says that most times he meets with clients it is about compromise. While the idea of solar power can be fueled by the desire to be independent from JEA, some homes can only cut a portion of reliance from local energy utilities.
Due to many factors, including the size of the home and the budget of the homeowners, some families can cut 20 percent of their reliance, while others can fully cut away from the grid.