In Belfast, Maine, a new model for energy efficient living is taking shape, as a group of environmentally conscious individuals have started inhabiting an "Eco-Village" within the town.
The setup may seem like a scene from simpler times, as residents often gather on front porches for jam sessions and lawns are trimmed by human-powered push-mowers. However, things are not as they appear at the Belfast Co-Housing and Eco-Village Project, as this community is very much rooted in the 21st Century.
So far, nine top-of-the-line homes have been completed that employ the latest technologies in energy conservation on the land designated for the project. As a result, each house uses as much electricity as it takes to power a hair dryer.
Construction for the project began five years ago, and as residents have trickled in, they have been pleasantly surprised at the modern amenities these rustic-looking homes afford them.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) visited the village on August 15 to gauge its success. The original goals of the founding members were to not only create environmentally friendly housing, but to also make the homes affordable for first time buyers.
"I think we started out to be affordable for Maine families, and I don't think we've been at all successful at that, and that feels very sad to me," Colleen O'Connell, a founding resident, told the source.
However, residents told MPBN they enjoy knowing that they aren't drawing power from the burdened electric grid. As well, these inhabitants take pride in the sense of community the village provides.
In order to improve efficiency, homeowners can take a less experimental approach than the one on display in Belfast by simply conducting an energy audit. This will allow a home inspector to show the property owners where they can reduce their energy consumption.