Intentional Living

The Earnshaw Ecohouse offers residents an ecologically conscious lifestyle and visitors a model of sustainability

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At the Earnshaw Ecohouse in Mount Auburn, a small community of individuals are working to go off-grid and become a fully sustainable residence within the next two years. That means being able to maintain their individual level of consumption entirely with resources collected or produced internally on the property.

To do that, Robbie Ludlum, one of three residents and the guy who proposed the off-the-grid idea to the house owner, Nick Shaver, says they plan to eventually produce their own electricity, make their own gas for the stove, burn wood to heat the house, rely solely on rainwater and eat food off their own land from chickens and gardening.

For the house itself, which still looks like a standard American home from the outside, this comes as a huge jump. At the end of 2014, the structure was what Ludlum describes as a typical sharehouse, with residents who rented individual rooms and had separate lives. It wasn’t until February that the “normal” people moved out and the house was filled with like-minded, community-driven residents with enthusiasm for the new eco-goals.

Now, along with Ludlum, the residents are Peter Moorhouse and Mickey Mangan. Moorhouse is the only one with an education specifically in sustainable communities. Ludlum spent six years in the Air Force, a year traveling the states on his motorcycle and another few years meandering through Europe before getting a degree in anthropology. Mangan, similarly, has lived in a handful of foreign countries, studying engineering.

The house’s first step to full sustainability is to cut consumption in half. They started by unplugging their dryer, instead relying on hang drying. Ludlum also unplugged their fridge, switching to a highly insulated chest freezer with a thermostat that only turns the freezer on when it starts to warm up. In just the past couple months, Ludlum figures they’ve cut their fridge bill to $20 a year.

To save water, they flush the toilet with sink-water runoff. “We’ve saved probably about 1,000 gallons of water in the past month,” Ludlum says.

And to save even more water, they plan on installing a line of 55-gallon barrels in the basement into which they’ll pipe the house’s downspouts. The collected rainwater will then go through a simple three-stage filtration system to become safe drinking water.

After that, their goal is to buy electricity from an Ohio provider of 100-percent renewable energy, such as Ethical Electric, until they can afford their own solar panels. 

And while some may call the project radical, Ludlum isn’t an overzealous ecowarrior, but rather just someone hoping to do better for himself, the community and the earth.

“We’re not saving the world by doing this, by any means,” he says. “This is just what makes me feel a little better inside.”

The ecohouse has specific plans to build a community garden this spring and a share shed in the summer, while continuing their community potlucks to engage with anyone who’s interested. They’re also on the hunt for the right roommate to join the team.


To learn more about the EARNSHAW ECOHOUSE, visit eecohouse.com.

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