By Melissa Mitas, PropertyAuction.com
Consumer Reports recently listed energy efficiency as one of the Top Five current real estate trends. While some homeowners are going gung ho for solar panels and ENERGY STAR products, others are taking the sustainable lifestyle to a whole new level by living off the grid.
To clarify, true off-the-grid homes operate completely independent of public water, sewer, natural gas, electricity or any other similar utility service.
Those seeking these types of homes are obviously eco-conscious, but are also looking to live as simply and frugally as possible. Living off the grid can save exorbitant amounts of money each year while also giving a new level of autonomy to property owners.
Also a major consideration in the past few years is the turbulent weather many states across the U.S. have been experiencing. In the wake of massive tornadoes and hurricanes like Irene and Sandy, homeowners are actively seeking more disaster-resistant options.
When you picture an off-the-grid home, many would envision a thatched hut or cabin made of sod. Think again. This ‘living off the land’ way of life is obviously catching on, for there are now full-blown mansions that are completely sustainable being offered on the real estate market. Forbes recently did a spread on a slew of off-the-grid enclaves ranging in price from $799,000 to $13 million.
Nationwide, a host of real estate professionals are jumping on this green bandwagon. Traditional realtors are branching into this facet of the market, and real estate websites like SurvivalRealty.com and GreenHomesforSale.com that specialize in this unique niche of property sales are popping up more frequently. Off-grid has even hit the auction circuit, where last year Fisher Auction Company was slated to auction an entire 6-acre off-the-grid island known as Melody Key in the Florida Keys.
“The island oasis resides roughly one mile offshore of Summerland Key and offers the luxury tropical experience while being nearly self-sufficient,” Realtor.com reported. “In a nutshell, this is a place where one could realistically live year-round.
A state-of-the-art solar system lines the roof of the compound and feeds into a muted generator, and a desalination system pumps in fresh, soluble water.” The property was later pulled off the auction block due to private negotiations between the owner and prospective buyers.
This uber-green convention has attracted many a celebrity, including Daryl Hannah and Ed Begley Jr., who started an eco-home reality series documenting the building of his off-grid home.
Movie and TV actor Woody Harrelson lives in an all-solar-powered community on Maui, where even the vehicles are run on eco-friendly bio-diesel.
“There [are] probably about 200 people, but in terms of houses, maybe 100. People get the idea that it’s like a commune, but this was a neighborhood that’s been there long before I got there and they just never wanted power lines,” Harrelson told Mindfood Magazine.
Some celebs don’t go full off-grid but definitely go for the green in their homes, such as Johnny Depp whose estate runs on solar-hydrogen power, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who has a retractable roof on her home that simulates airflow, thus being free of the need for air conditioning.
Not all off-gridders are celebs. Many are everyday working people with a desire to be extremely environmentally friendly and truly get down to basics. This means much more than just saying goodbye to your dishwasher, microwave and laundry system. This lifestyle is nature at its root.
So what is involved in living off the power grid? Well, you need to basically get all of your utility needs met through natural channels.
For instance, electricity in an off-grid home is usually supplied through solar panels and wind turbines. According to HowStuffWorks.com, wind power is the cleanest and cheapest energy technology in the world, explaining that “…a typical residential wind turbine looks like an airplane propeller sitting atop a 50 to 120-foot tower. When the wind blows, the blades start moving and spin a shaft that leads from the hub of the rotor to a generator.
The generator takes the energy produced from the rotation and turns it into electricity.”