Home About Us Reservations Rooms Amenities Contact Us Policy

Off The Grid

Home in Chesterfield utilizes nature's power

Sarah J. Prince doesn't get an electric bill like the rest of us each month.

Her home, buried in the earth of a hillside on all but two sides, gets almost all its electricity from 24 solar panels on the roof. Her hot water also comes from solar power.

Her heat, with the help of Mother Nature, is provided by two wood stoves. She has a gasoline-powered generator to charge her home's batteries is she runs short and a propane tank to heat water if needed. Prince, who has lived there since March, rarely needs them.

A retired school librarian and former military wife, Prince runs Inn Nature Bed and Breakfast, as well as a yoga studio in her home located on more than 12 acres off South Street.

She made the decision several years ago that she wanted to build a home that was entirely independent. Inspired by books written in the 1970s about "earth-sheltered" houses, Prince worked with an architect and builder to create a house made out of concrete with four feet of soil on the clover-covered roof.

The house takes advantage of the fact that the earth's natural temperature -- around 50 degrees below the frostline -- helps regulate the temperature inside.

After her husband, Burton Prince, died of cancer in 2000 when they lived in Maryland, Prince returned to Chesterfield where she grew up on a farm.

"I always knew I wanted to come back, and I liked the trees and rocks and hills here. This place feels right to me," Prince said, sitting in her spacious great room filled with light from her huge bay windows.

The country's political situation and its connection to petroleum products motivated her.

"I didn't want to contribute to the consumption of oil and to what it's doing to our country and the world," Prince said.

Prince has a commitment to being "easy on the environment." She used recycled products as much as possible in construction of the house. Piles of squash from her garden are stored in one room, and jars of fruits and vegetables she canned are in another. She hangs her clothes out to dry and she composts all her food waste.

The mother of four grown women and grandmother of six girls, Prince now keeps busy teaching yoga at the Davenport Child Care Center and at the town's Senior Center. She is also on the town's Planning Board.

"Living here feels great. It feels peaceful," Prince said.

Nancy Gonter can be reached at ngonter@repub.com.

Copyright 2008 The Springfield Republican

Home | About Us | Reservations | Rooms | Amenities | Contact Us | Policy

Copyright 2008 Inn Nature
All Rights Reserved