For their neighbours, Leena and Ravi George’s beautiful bungalow in Elamkulam, Kochi is a feast for the eyes. Vibrant bushes of bougainvillaeas in all their white, magenta and flaming orange glory arch over the property walls, while tall areca palms stand as vigilant sentinels.
The glorious greenery embracing the ivory-white house is sure to evoke awe in anyone.
It is, however, the terrace of the house that hoards the real surprise. Twenty-four solar panels are lined up in perfect sync at the rooftop of the George household, which, in turn, supply 24X7 power for the entire property.
For the past six and a half years, Leena, a former interior designer, and Ravi, an engineer, have switched to solar power for their home, thereby bringing down their monthly electric bill from a whopping Rs 6000 to just 150 rupees!
In addition, the solar power facility has prompted them to become the proud owners of one of Kochi’s model sustainable homes.
Solar power brings a dramatic reduction in power bills
“At one point, we used to draw electricity bills of Rs 12,000 or more for just two months!” begins Leena
The extensive property, spanning across 3500 sq ft showcase elements of cutting-edge architecture and interior designing, mandating a meticulous use of lights and electric appliances.
Ths consumption would increase further with the rising mercury in Kochi’s sultry summers, simultaneously spiking the electric bills. No matter how much they tried, the couple was unable to bring down the power consumption in the property.
That’s when they decided to go solar and installed a solar power unit atop their terrace. Ever since then, the George family spends just Rs 150 per month on an average basis on their power consumption.
The charges do increase a little bit during the gloomy monsoon months, but the expense is multiple times less than before.
In 2014, solar energy was a nascent trend, but Leena and Ravi decided to give it a go. And they have never had to regret it.
“(After researching), we thought solar would be way more economical and so completely switched the power facilities at the house. Initially, it was a battery-operated solar power generator as available in those days. It had certain drawbacks. For instance, the battery in itself would occupy an entire room; then the maintenance was another hassle. So, we switched to the grid system around three years ago, and it has been giving the best service.”
The solar grid installation has negated the chances of power failures in the house forever. With an output of around 6 kilowatts, the facility supports every electrical appliance in the home, including high-power refrigerators, washing machines or even air-conditioners.
Other sustainable aspects
Aside from solar power, Leena has also adopted several other sustainable elements at her home. All the biodegradable household waste goes into a traditional clay composting unit in her backyard, which supplies green manure for her organic garden.
In fact, the 66-year-old has been an avid enthusiast of composting for the past 16 years. The composting unit also supplies up to 2 hours of biogas for the household.
“All my leafy greens, vegetables and fruit trees are nourished from the household waste. We even used to get some cooking fuel from the unit. Except for a little bit of plastic packaging, no other waste goes out of my home,” Leena George shares proudly.
The couple and their sustainable home have inspired others in the neighbourhood to follow suit. In the near future, Leena George wishes to install a rainwater harvesting unit at her home, and also personally adopt a zero-plastic lifestyle.