W. Pa. Duo Uses Solar, Recycling To Live Off Grid

By Janice Crompton

LIGONIER, Pa. (AP) – How great would it be to have all the conveniences of modern life without most of the bills — or worries about power outages?

It may sound too good to be true, but that’s life for Ted and Kathy Carns of Ligonier Township, who have managed to build a 21st century success story of zero waste, astonishing inventiveness and self-reliant living.

The couple penned a new book about their lifestyle, called “Off On Our Own: Living Off-Grid in Comfortable Independence,” and they will be the featured speakers at a free program offered by Peters Township Public Library.

Although an off-the-grid lifestyle — living without reliance on public utilities — may seem daunting to many, the Carns have practical tips for others to help reduce their carbon footprint and waste.

Such lifestyle changes can make a big difference financially, too. The Carns’ only routine expenses are health insurance, cell phone service and taxes.

Yet the couple has modern appliances, including a computer, flat-screen television, state-of-the-art security system and even a solar-powered blender.

But first, a tour of their secluded five-acre homestead — which they call Stone Camp — and an explanation of how it came to be.

Mr. Carns’ great-grandfather sold the five-acre plot to a group of men from Pittsburgh who wanted a hunting camp deep in the woods. In 1926, Mr. Carns’ eight great-uncles built the camp for the hunters from locally quarried sandstone and wormy chestnut timber from the family sawmill.

“They hauled everything up here on a mule train,” said Mr. Carns, 60.

The camp at that time was primitive, with no running water or electricity. The location — surrounded by 60 acres that Mr. Carns’ family owned — is so isolated that Mr. Carns said a state conservation official told him he believed the home was the most isolated dwelling in southwestern Pennsylvania. The property is tucked into the Laurel Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains and surrounded by miles of dense woodland. The nearest neighbor is miles away, and the driveway to the home requires four-wheel drive.

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Posted by on Dec 1st, 2012 and filed under American Street Guide. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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