Livin’ off the grid

In light of Eskom's ever-increasing electricity tariffs, we spoke to a Noordhoek local who’s giving the parastatal the middle finger by living a more energy efficient lifestyle

Anthea Torr zigs when the rest of us zag. She lives an electricity-free lifestyle on her smallholding in Noordhoek, and is the owner of Enchantrix, a chemical-free range of beauty and household products.

She even has her own petrol pump filled with bio-diesel fuel—and the car the recycled oil goes into sports customised license plates: instead of the usual ‘CA’ in front of the numbers, it has ‘RG’. When quizzed about it she says it stands for the “Republic of Good Hope”, ‘a common law society of people who no longer consent to debt-based money systems.’

And these divergences are just in her driveway.

A giant crystal directs us to her front door, planted in the shrubbery it reflects the golden twilight. We take a seat on her stoep, which is peppered with plants, a sleeping cat, and the odd Buddha statue. Beyond here is her energy-saving home.

Anthea is living almost entirely off the grid, a lifestyle aided by energy generated from solar panels for daily electricity needs. Her water is heated with solar tubes and PV panels (a solar panel that uses photovoltaic cells to conduct solar radiation). She’s also installed energy saving light bulbs, which use a mere 300w to light up her entire two-storey cottage.

 “The bulbs are slightly more expensive,” she says, “but they last practically a lifetime.” To cook, a rare occurrence as most of her diet consists of ‘raw food’, she has a bio-digester that produces methane gas, it’s fed with horse manure, kitchen waste and the black water from the two cottages on the property.

Adjacent to the main cottage is a vegetable garden, from which Anthea gets the majority of her daily food requirements. This is her energy saving coup, “It reduces the need for commercial farming, plus it saves on packaging and transport.”

As admirable as Anthea’s quest is though, you don’t need to have a complete lifestyle overhaul to live more eco-friendly and to mitigate the escalating costs of electricity. See below for green inspiration.

Simple tips on how to reduce energy consumption

  • If becoming a vegan or vegetarian isn’t for you, you cansimply make an effort toeat less meat. At least two nights a week,make a vegetarian meal—the planet will thank you for it. The methane gasses produced from commercial animal farming, not to mention the transport costs and packaging involved, are taking a devastating toll on our environment. Or, if you’re not keen on cooking, try one of these vegetarian restaurants.
  • Try gutter gardening: you needn’t live on a farm to grow your own organic vegetables. Simply use an old gutter as a planter, it’s easy and small enough to store on a city balcony.
  • Make your own compost by collecting all your vegetable and fruit off-cuts and keep it in a pile in your garden (or a worm farm on the balcony).
  • Reuse and recycle, this saves energy in the manufacturing plants and reduces methane gas produced in the landfills. There are plenty of places in Cape Town to recycle your glass, plastic and tin.
  • Replace your power gobbling light bulbs with energy-saving CFC or LED bulbs.
  • Save the trees and read CapeTownMagazine.com

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