Friday, July 30, 2021
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Opinion: No Power Bills? No Problem

Life off the grid is something that I think everyone should experience.

I’ve been living off the grid my whole life. We have no power bills and rely on a windmill and solar panels to have power.

It was weird for me as a kid growing up. At school, everyone would be talking about the power cuts they had during a storm, and I would just be standing there with nothing to add because I never experienced it.

Although I’ve only experienced one power cut in my life, there have been times when the system has failed, leaving us in the dark. Luckily we have a generator on standby. One time I was trying to make toast. I went to turn on the toaster, and just by doing that, it was a big enough power surge to turn the power off.

I don’t see being off the grid as something that meant I missed out on anything during my childhood. Having to conserve power during the low light months was a lesson in itself, along with other things.

We have a wetback. In order to have hot water we have to light the fire, or if we want to put the dishwasher on we have to get the water temperature up to 60 degrees.

Having to go outside in the dark to get more wood to put on the fire so that you can have a shower definitely makes you appreciate it, but that still doesn’t stop me from having 15 minute plus showers.

Having to rely on the sun for power is a big ask. We can’t always watch TV because it drains too much power, and in only the last six months we have gotten an actual fridge.

When I was younger we had a gas camping fridge, it was tiny and couldn’t fit much food in it. Eventually, we got a bigger fridge. One with a freezer attached. It was still gas, but at least I could keep my leftovers. We finally got an electric fridge a few months ago. It’s even got a light inside. It may seem weird, but it’s the little things that you miss out on.

Most things that you had as a kid, I probably didn’t. We didn’t have an electric oven. Instead, we have a gas one that it seems like you almost have to take apart just to light. So if you ask me to turn an electric oven on I may just stare at it for a while figuring out what to do. We also didn’t have a microwave until a couple of years ago, so that whole concept is new to me.

Turning on and off the tv… most of you will just turn it on to standby mode. Us? Nope: “Turn it off at the wall, please.” While this seems like an easy task, have you ever actually turned off your Sky decoder and waited for it to restart? It takes years. I’ve learned that if I want to record something and we are about to go out, turn the Sky on at least 15 minutes before you plan to leave.

My father used to take power saving to a bit of an extreme. He had worked out how long the ads were, funnily enough, the same length of what an egg timer was. So during the ads, he would turn the tv off, flip over the egg timer and wait, just to save power.

Life off the grid is something that I think everyone should experience. It makes you think differently about life and makes you appreciate the things you usually would take for granted. I say try it; it may just light up your world.

Caitlin Houghton
Caitlin Houghton is an aspiring journalism student at the NZ Radio Training School. She is often found scrolling the internet prying on the unknown eye.
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