By Mark McConville
THIS OFF-GRID couple who turned their back on consumer society to live the greenest life possible by building a self-sufficient £36K tiny house are not fazed by the possibility of a power black-out.
Incredible images show the tiny house from outside, complete with DIY French doors while a bio gas digester and solar hot water unit show how these eco-pioneers generate their own energy.
Other striking shots show the house during the building process and the couple relaxing inside as natural light floods the property.
Annett Welss (36), from Bayreuth, Germany and Paul O’Connor (35), from Tauranga, New Zealand met in Sydney before living there for four years.
Deciding to leave the grind of city life they moved to the countryside to build their tiny house because of their desire to live fully off renewable energy.
“Paul and I were always interested in green living and making use of renewable energies,” said Annett.
“Living off renewables like solar power especially made sense to us since there’s an abundance of sun in Australia. So we tried to incorporate this into our Sydney life and gradually converted our balcony into a mini garden/workshop.
“I started growing tomatoes and all kinds of herbs and built a small compost while Paul experimented with DIY solar ovens and mini bio digesters. We even managed to fit a full-sized solar panel on our balcony which powered our TV and charged our phones.
“Our efforts of living green weren’t bad considering that we were living in the middle of a busy city but we realised that in order to fully live off-grid we had to own our own house. We couldn’t afford buying property in Sydney, nor did we want to.
“Eventually, Paul stumbled across tiny houses online and we loved the idea of simplifying our lives by building a minimalist yet affordable house on wheels. And that’s what we did. A few months later we left Sydney, moved to the countryside and started building our tiny house on wheels.”
The couple spent £23k (41k AUD) on their tiny home before spending a further £13k (24k AUD) on their off-grid setup.
The home has solar power, captures its own rain water, uses solar water heating and even generates its own gas via a bio gas digester.
“I love the fact that everything we need for a normal modern life is provided by nature and delivered directly to the house in the form of rain and sun, all one needs is the equipment to capture it and they will have unlimited energy and water forever,” said Paul.
“I also love the fact that we live in beautiful scenery and at a fifth of the living costs that we had in Sydney. We are now able to save a lot of money going forward so buying our own property in the future and regular overseas holidays are now possible.”
The tiny house does have the ability to be moved as it is built on a trailer but the couple are happy with their current location.
Although life is good the pair did have some advice for anyone wishing to follow in their footsteps with particular attention given to each country’s own unique issues.
“There is a lot of research involved before going off-grid, e.g. it’s important to find out about rules and regulations about off-grid living in your country to avoid potential trouble afterwards,” said Annett.
“Another important thing to consider is climate. Every climate is different and requires different off-grid equipment. A solution that works in a subtropical climate may not be suitable for colder regions.
“Other important questions to ask are ‘What’s the solution for overcast days? What’s my average energy and water usage? The latter helps when calculating the size of the water tank and how many solar panels are needed.
“So far, we haven’t had any big issues with living off the grid. Since we live in Australia we have plenty of solar power, even in winter, and we have a big battery bank to store this energy. However, there are days and even weeks of overcast weather; in this case the solar power generation is less but still sufficient for everyday energy needs.
“Our water supply might become an issue in winter since these are the dry months here in this region. Our 10,000L water tank is full at the moment but we are relying on rainfall, so three months without rain will be a stretch.”
For more information see https://www.livingtinyandgreen.com/