Off-Grid and Living By Example
Written by guest author Ron Melchiore, author and off-grid homesteader
Back to the Land
I recently came across Let There Be Light International while searching for charities that mirrored the philosophy my wife and I have lived by. As a young man in my early 20’s, I “saw the light” so to speak when, as an electronics technician working a 9 to 5 job, I became disillusioned with the rat race. I made the move from Pennsylvania to Maine as one of the back to the land generation in the 1970’s. I’ve never looked back.
My wife joined me several years after I moved to Maine and we’ve homesteaded off-grid for the last 40 years. In fact, we’ve never had a power bill from a utility company. Benefits of this lifestyle are numerous. It gives us peace of mind that our power is ultra-reliable without the worry of brown outs, blackouts and rising electric bills.
Living a Fossil Free Life
For those of us concerned about the environment and global climate change, choosing to live off-grid is just one way we are reducing our carbon footprint. Although we are only two people, we are doing our part to lead by example, and we support charities like Let There be Light International.
Living off-grid forced us early on to understand what our power requirements are and what it takes to power our various gizmos and gadgets. It forced us to purchase energy efficient appliances and it taught us to conserve. But if you were to visit us, you would never know we are off-grid other than spotting our solar array. We have a refrigerator/freezer, 2 chest freezers, TV, satellite Internet, lights, kitchen appliances… you name it. Although we have modern appliances, we can sure relate to the cause of this charity since we used kerosene lanterns for many years before we installed a couple simple electric 12 volt lights. And what a difference that made at the time. Cleaner, safer light and no more time spent trimming wicks and cleaning the chimneys every few days.
Off-Grid By Choice
Keep in mind, we had that choice to utilize kerosene lamps. As someone who started out with kerosene lamps and no refrigeration, I know how much my/our quality of life changed with the addition of those first few lights and a small refrigerator. Life became so much easier.
But for millions upon millions of people in the world, the choice is kerosene lamps or darkness. In all honesty, I had no idea that so many people in the world had no access to electricity. In fact it wasn’t until just recently that the number of people without electricity in the world dropped below 1 billion. That’s a staggering statistic in this modern era.
Freedom and Solar
This lifestyle has given us enormous freedom. Although we are currently building our last homestead in Nova Scotia a mile from the power lines, our previous homestead was really remote. Remote as in one needed to hire a float plane to find us 100 miles in the wilderness of northern Saskatchewan. We lived on a pristine lake by ourselves. We only saw humans twice a year when we came out for shopping and appointments. That experience was the culmination of our lives and the greatest privilege we’ve been given in life. But it wouldn’t have been possible without solar electricity.
Over the years I’ve been encouraged to write a book about our exploits. I had the good fortune to winter thru hike all 2100+ miles of the Appalachian Trail, bicycle across the United States, survive forest fires and survive the touch of a bear. I share these stories in my book Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness. You are welcome to visit our webpage for more information about us.
I’d like to leave you with a couple final thoughts. We supported the solar cause when it was outrageously expensive. These days, solar is cheap and getting cheaper. Please consider solar as a viable alternative to grid power. Let’s also see if we can’t bring some simple lights to the mass of humanity that still has no access to electricity.
Follow Your Dreams
And, finally the above were my/our dreams. But we all have dreams and I encourage everyone to follow their own aspirations. Life is short and uncertain. Take advantage of the opportunities presented when they come. Have a good day,
Ron, Guest Author