Using alternative energy sources to power homes, or living off the grid, is becoming more and more popular. There are about 750,000 off-the-grid households in the United States, estimates Nick Rosen, author of "Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America." The number is growing by about 10 percent every year. Concern about global warming and the unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels in the U.S. make alternative energy a sensible choice. People often decide to live off the grid in planned communities where energy sources and the commitment to living sustainably is shared.
Greater World Earthship Community, Taos, New Mexico
At the Greater World Earthship Community, near Taos, New Mexico, residents live exclusively in energy efficient homes called Earthships that run on solar and wind energy. The homes are constructed with with natural and recycled materials, and were designed by architect Michael Reynolds, according to the "New York Times Magazine." The Earthship homes collect water and snow in reservoirs, and the water is treated and reused several times. The homes also manufacture biodiesel fuel. The community has a view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and is just a short drive from Taos.
Twin Oaks Community, Virginia
Twin Oaks is an off-the-grid community located on 450 acres in rural central Virginia. The residents' homes share a solar power source, and community members share businesses, meals and a commitment to sustainable living. Residents work making and selling hammocks and tofu that they distribute commercially. They also do chores and maintenance around the property, including milking cows and maintaining the community gardens. The members share the business profits, and receive a stipend and health care. The community was established in 1967.
Three Rivers, Oregon
The Three Rivers community is an off-the-grid neighborhood in a vacation area in central Oregon where residents' homes share solar and wind power sources. Large vacation homes and small residential shacks make up this eclectic community located in the Oregon High Desert. Water is brought in from town and stored in reservoirs. The nearest city is Bend, Oregon, which is about an hour's drive away. The community was established in the late 1960s, and CB radios were the only form of communication for many years. Some residents still have their CB handles inscribed on signs staked at the end of their driveways, according to the "Seattle Times." Residents say they enjoy living in such a secluded area.