Couple lives "off the grid" in North Carolina

Buzz Williams and Nicole Hayler of Upstate North Carolina don’t get a monthly electric bill, and they like it this way.

Solar panels in their backyard feed into a bank of 16 batteries that store the energy day and night. Electricity travels through an underground wire to the batteries, which send power into their Oconee County home.

And on the few occasions when extended rainy periods draw down the batteries, they crank up a generator to keep the lights on.

In addition to using solar panels to generate electricity, the couple uses other methods of energy conservation for their utilities:

Their house has a rock floor downstairs to help retain heat in the winter and keep it cool in the summer. They also feed a woodstove during the winter to warm their home. Cool mountain air keeps the house comfortable in the summer.

Additionally, Hayler and Williams have purchased a refrigerator and a freezer that run on DC current, which operates more efficiently with sun power. But any appliance would work, they said.

Hayler and Williams point out that they’re not doing this to avoid paying electric bills, but because they are passionate about renewable energy.

“This is not just to avoid paying power bills,” Hayler said. “It’s a question of, ultimately, we’d be better off if there were renewables like solar in the whole energy consumption scenario. That is our way of doing it.”

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