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Unplug and Enjoy20 April, 2016
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Off-Grid Living Doesn't Have to Mean Sacrifice

BY ANN SNORTLAND
Real Estate Agent with Clearwater Montana Properties, Inc.
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Ann Snortland


The idea of living "off-the-grid" or off-grid has been catching on across the country for several years now.  In fact, Consumer Reports recently listed energy efficiency as one of the Top Five current real estate trends.

Still, some folks are reluctant or don't understand what it means to live off-grid. It seems too radical, or they feel it will require too many sacrifices. Not the case, say Jim and Edith Palmer, off-grid homeowners in Montana. "We haven’t had to make any major adjustments to our lifestyle. We have a TV, a dishwasher, washer and dryer, and all the other creature comforts we like to have in our homes," according to Edith. "You learn to appreciate things more and learn to be conserving, and that's a good thing," she added.

off-grid home montana

For some, energy efficiency means buying Energy Star rated products or maybe putting up solar panels

and saving money on electricity.  But for an increasingly larger group of homeowners this means literally cutting the cord with the utility companies and living off-grid.

Generally speaking, going off-grid means that your house is not connected to the city or national electricity grid.  These houses are completely self-sufficient down to the water supply. Off-grid home owners save a great deal of money not paying for power or water.

Here in the Mountain West and in Montana, living off-grid comes with the added benefit of being less affected by weather-related outages.

The Palmers were attracted to the idea when they built their home near Craig, Montana in 2005. "We had been reading about this idea of being energy self-sufficient and thought we could do it, so we did," Jim commented. "We have loved not having a power or water bill. All we do is fill our propane tank once a year and buy unleaded gas for our backup generator."

off-grid montana home palmers

Off-grid homes usually feature solar and wind generation and have their own well or rely on a spring or rainwater depending on location.


One of the biggest lessons the Palmers learned was that the right equipment really does matter. Fortunately, they had the foresight to design their system to scale, because they ended up having to boost their generating capacity to make up for the short winter days. The Palmers started out with an array of six solar panels to power their 2,112 square-foot home and later doubled their capacity. Now they are properly powered for their needs. "We now have a much more robust system than we started with and it is working very well," Jim said.

Off-grid homes are becoming highly sought after by buyers looking for significant cost savings and a more eco-friendly way of life. In fact, the Palmers recently listed their home!

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