An off-grid retreat at Eco Retreats is a brilliant way to experience living off the grid for a short while. Guests are often attracted by the notion of off-grid living, and almost everyone tells us that life without any electricity is surprisingly comfortable. They also find that it helps them to slow down and become more thoughtful about the energy we usually consume.
Since we’re based in Wales, the first consideration for an off-grid retreat is warmth, especially at night. Our Mongolian yurts are really well insulated and get very cosy when the hand-made wood-burning stove gets going. We supply firewood sourced from local sustainable sources; much of it is harvested from the farm where we are based.
Firewood is also used for cooking outside; the outdoor campfire area has a tripod and grid for cooking over an open fire. And it even heats our outdoor baths! Off-grid living has never been more fun!
As an alternative, we offer a gas hob inside the yurt for cooking, and our hot showers warm the fresh water from a natural spring on site with a small gas heater. While gas is not a form of renewable energy, our consumption is extremely low: 1 large gas bottle per living space heats everyone’s showers, and no more than 2 small gas bottles per living space is sufficient for everyone’s cooking for the season.
Lighting is provided by tealights and 2 small camping lights that we recharge between stays. Because the living space is just the right size, an off-grid retreat doesn’t allow for the waste that comes with lights or heating being left on in rooms that aren’t in use. And being away from the normal glare of lights and electronics also helps our guests to sleep really well: many of them report having the best night’s sleep they’ve had in a long time.
People often wonder about food storage during an off-grid retreat. Our eco-cool pots are clay pots lined with sand which is kept cool with cold water. A traditional fridge still used in some parts of the world today, it’s surprisingly effective at keeping milk etc. cool for a few days!
When we lived as a family in South Africa, we lived completely off-grid so we know first-hand the joys and challenges of off-grid living. We lived with 3 solar panels powering everything we needed in our small earthship eco-house: a low-energy washing machine, a Minus 40 fridge that ran off one hour’s power per day, a few LED lights and sockets for running a few low-energy kitchen appliances (bread-maker and coffee grinder) and charging laptops and phones. Off-grid living taught me to be always mindful of my energy consumption (I had to finish the washing before I could make the bread!) – and of the weather (although It was almost always sunny, a few overcast days meant power supplies were very low).
Some of the innovations we’ve introduced to Eco Retreats like the gas heaters for showers are technologies we used for years in our own off-grid living home. We are exploring more solar options for Eco Retreats; however, weighing up the resources and energy used in the manufacture of the panels vs. their amazing ability to harness the energy from the sun.
One of the most important things we did while living off-grid ourselves was to fit out the eco-house with low-power lights and appliances; we never bought anything without checking power consumption first. This is a simple change anyone can make in their own lives, as energy efficient options almost always exist.
A review of global power consumption quickly reveals how excessive our energy usage in the Western world is, and how unsustainable. While technology can help us here, I believe reducing our consumption is essential too. A short off-grid retreat tends to highlight how very high our normal consumption is, and inspire us to make some small changes once we return home. Making these changes turns out in most cases not to be a challenge and a burden. Being conscious of and taking steps to reduce our energy consumption can often increase our quality of life, as well as our connectedness with the Universe and all people in our global society.
Join us for a unique off-grid living experience to see for yourself!