Monday, 28 April 2008

How to live off-grid

Got sent a review copy of "How to live off-grid" by Nick Rosen.

Apparently he is an award winning journalist and documentary maker, for PBS Frontlineand Channel 4 Dispatches amongst others.

This is a new concept to me, living "off-grid" but I guess it may be something we all could do well to find out more about. With the credit crunch, building a yurt in a forest maybe the only option for some of us!

"Off-Grid" means living without mains water and power, sewage and a landline. If you are cut off from the mains you have no choice but to conserve power and water as much as you can, and perhaps, as Nick Rosen would say, makes you more in harmony with nature.

The book charts his journey around Britain in a camper van meeting people who live outside the system and off the grid, i.e. not on mains water and not on the national grid for electricity.

For more information about living off-grid, you can go to Nick Rosen's site.

Read this book whilst waiting for my daughter to be born last month, and it was interesting, challenging and informative. Made the hours of waiting and worrying a lot more bearable.

The style annoyed me a bit at first as it was part travel log, part off-grid guidebook but I soon warmed to it. In some ways, it was like a conversation, rather like a blog, and because of this, it did bring some of the characters and experiences Nick Rosen had a bit more to life.

The UK certainly has some eccentric and some inspirational people around, as well as some con-merchants cashing in on the green thing.

Worth a mention is Nigel Lowthrop, who on leaving the RAF, bought Hill Holt Wood , moved his family there and created a social enterprise with a sustainable income from the wood that involves the whole community and helps disadvataged children. Politicians are taking an interest in learning from and replicating such pioneers and schemes, which must be a good thing.

I am not sure I will rush to buy an old bus off eBay, off-grid it with solar panels etc and fill the tank with old chip fat and drive my family into the wilds of the UK.

Can't afford it for a start and all the energy saving measures I would like to install at home are just beyond us financially because the technology is so expensive still in the UK.

Not only that, trying build a house in the middle of no where off-grid seems like too much hassle to navigate the labyrinthine planning regulations and application process.

If you are rich, you can probably find a way through quite easily. That said, the book has some innovative, brave and driven people, like Mr Lowthrop and family, who make a success of it.

Good luck to them and I would heartily recommend this book as an enjoyable window on the world of living off-grid.
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