Some Wilmington residents weaning selves ‘off-the-grid'

Solar panels are one way people are living off the grid.
Solar panels are one way people are living off the grid.
The "greenest house in Wilmington."
The "greenest house in Wilmington."

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -  Following the premiere of NBC's new TV show Revolution,  it really makes you think – could you survive in a world without power?

It seems as though more and more folks are trying to lead a simpler life – one involving less electricity. In fact, some people in Wilmington are weaning themselves "off the grid."

Architect Jay DeChesere lives in what could arguably be the greenest house in all of Wilmington.

"CFPUA called me and asked me what was going on, because I was using the least amount of water in like many neighborhoods around here, and I was happy about that!" he said.

The reason: DeChesere collects rainwater. He has a tank and a huge one underground. The rainwater is recycled to water the lawn and to flush toilets in the house. It was installed by Cape Fear Rain Water Harvesting, Inc.

DeChesere is actually selling the energy he's making with his solar panels back to Progress Energy.

Still, he ends up owing them, but not that much money.

"It keeps our power bill to about $25 a month, said DeChesere. "With a few more panels, it would probably be zero, but you have to spend money to save money. "

Both the solar panels and rainwater recycling system can cost thousands, but there are incentives out there.

"What makes it affordable are the tax credits," said Gary Leber from Solarstar Energy. The state of North Carolina is offering a 35 percent tax credit, and the federal government is offering a 30 percent tax credit. if you are a Progress Energy customer, they are offering some rebates. So you can make it affordable in that it will pay for itself in five to eight years.

On top of the solar panels and rainwater recycling, DeChesere's house has a living roof, with plants that reduce storm water runoff by 20 percent.

Plants surrounding his house are landscaped lower, so that they can catch more rainfall.

Inside of his home, he's using LED lights and low flow toilets; plus, most of the doors, countertops and surfaces are made from recycled materials.

DeChesere says it feels better being green, even though gutting his home was costly.

if you are not ready to invest thousands, there are simple free things you can do now to get off the grid, so to say.

  • Turn off lights and ceiling fans when you leave a room
  • Hang your clothes to dry
  • Air dry dishes
  • Open your blinds in the winter months to allow the sun to heat up your home

DeChesere is a member of the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance, a group that promotes building approaches that are environmentally responsible. His home won an LEED platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its green technology.

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