TIME: Mid-February 2016sunset

PLACE: Southern Tasmania

CIRCUMSTANCE: Solar power & going off-grid

For the last few years we have been talking about sustainability and how it relates to our consumption of all resources, energy use and environmental management and when the government was giving rebates for solar energy installations and rebates for feeding into the grid, we thought that would be the way to go, have the best of both worlds, so to speak. However, now there are no or minimal rebates and feeding into the grid has not been such a pay-off as first thought. My own parents are a case in point. They invested a huge sum to get solar energy and tap into the grid and since installation they have seen the rebate go down. Nevertheless, the money they spent has paid for itself in money not paid to power companies. Now that’s a win!

When we bought the property we knew that getting connected to the main grid would have been expensive indeed because of the distance from the road to the building envelope. We considered both solar and wind power, and even a combination of both. Finally our decision was to go off-grid altogether and, for the time being, just go solar. There may come a time in the future when wind power may be a significant option, especially since our location has plenty of it.

Since our decision to go completely off-grid and before making the permanent move to Tasmania, our neighbour approached us about sharing the cost of getting power onto the properties. We said no. His property is behind us and his elevation greater; the cost of getting traditional power to that site – nightmarish. Initially we had concerns about the appearance of the power poles, but thankfully they are unobtrusive.

We did our research and are happy to say that solar power is a responsible choice. It is also making us consider how we use power. For instance, appliances like ovens, cooktops, clothes dryers and smaller electrical kitchen ‘gadgets’ all have a substantial draw on power. We have decided to go for gas where possible; gas hot water and all-gas range (and there are not a lot of options in the all-gas range especially since the introduction of the popular combination of gas hotplates and electric oven). We are really excited about choosing solar and reducing our energy consumption.

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