Environment and Climate Change, life

Livin’ the high life “off-gird”

Rooms inside an off-grid house
Rooms inside an off-grid house

The push for becoming environmentally friendly and responsible has now taken a new turn. Its not just reducing your carbon foot print or disposing your recycling in the appropriately marked bins.

There is more to it than taking three minute showers or using a plant based product as popularized by Jennifer Aniston. Some Canadian households are turning to a completely different lifestyle. They are going “off the grid”.

The EPIC Vancouver, Sustainable Living Expo is to be held from May 08- 10 at the New Vancouver Convention Centre. The three day event features everything “Green”. From Eco-Supermodel Summer Rayne Oakes talking about sustainable style and beauty to Vancouver’s top Green chef’s it is a one stop shop for eco-friendly good samaritans.

Initially the term “off-grid”  brings to mind visions of dark communes and societies that exist on bare essentials without plumbing and eating raw meat, but this is no secret cabal. It is just a human connection and the urge to save our planet’s dwindling resources.

” For a person like me who had never gone camping in the most scenic locations with all the Mopark accessories, the idea of living off the grid seemed outrageous.” said Nathan Barbosa.

Then he got hired as the Business Development Manager for a Vancouver renewable energy company, and that proved to be iconoclastic for his thought processes.

” It was not easy to leave my beautifully equipped penthouse and move to a solar panel equipped house in the suburbs, but it was worth the effort.” Barbosa reminsces.

Now he lives independent of muncipal electricity system without any power lines hooked to his house.  The roof of the house is covered in solar photovoltaic panels and evacuated tubes. These store natural renewable energy in form of batteries for running his appliances around the house.

Solar Panels on an off-grid house.
Solar Panels on an off-grid house.

Given the BC weather it is bad news when there is no sun to store energy in the solar panels, but this is when Barbosa switches to a propane generator, especially in the winters. 

This lifestyle is not cheap. It costs between $40,000- $50,000 for a four kilo-watt hybrid solar and wind system. People seem to be latching on to the idea. 

For those who are not familiar with the concept there are many websites such as www.treehugger.com and http://www.off-grid.net/ that can entice people into starting to recognize the importance of renewable energy.

” When the adjustment period is over it is a healthy lifestyle.  If my TV stops working, I rely on my iPod to keep me energized ” joked Barbosa.

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