Upstate family lives off solar power - News, Weather & Sports

Upstate family lives off solar power

Several of the solar panels Jasmine's family uses to power their home. (File/FOX Carolina) Several of the solar panels Jasmine's family uses to power their home. (File/FOX Carolina)
SENECA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Oconee County family is raising their daughter in a self-sufficient, solar-powered home.

The couple's solar-powered home may now have modern conveniences like TV, but they have not always lived in a home with more than the bare basics.

Jasmine Williams' parents brought her home from the hospital as a baby to their yurt - a Mongolian style shelter with the bare basics, like heat and running water.

Once Jasmine was 7, her father, Buzz Williams, converted a barn into a solar-powered home.

Nicole Hayler and husband Buzz Williams said they have always been environmentalists. They used to guide rafting trips down the Chatooga River nearby and now lead a Chatooga conservancy that works to protect the land and forest surrounding the river.

"We're trying to demonstrate that alternative energy is something that's viable and that you can do it," Buzz Williams said.

They say their house is quite luxurious, including their toilet that uses only wood shavings to flush before their waste is composed.

SLIDESHOW: Take a look inside their solar-powered home

They rely on 16 solar panels that heat their water and power batteries that save the energy for nighttime and gray days. The sunshine powers lamps, their freezer and refrigerator and even charges their cell phones.

"I couldn't live without my computer now," said Jasmine, who acknowledges her upbringing has been different then other kids her age. "So whenever they came to school, they'd be like I watched TV over the weekend. I'd be like, yeah, I ran through the woods this weekend."

Now 12, Jasmine watches her favorite shows on their antenna TV and has her own room at the top of the house that has windows lining the floor to funnel hot air up and out.

The entire house was designed to use as little energy as possible, with brick floors to keep it cool and large windows that draw heat from the sun. The family also grows much of their food.

When asked if she would want to live any other way, Jasmine said she loves her family's home and lifestyle.

"No, I love the way we live," Jasmine said. "Even though it's kind of a pain sometimes in the winter, it's nice never having the power go out and never having to worry about the parents paying the electric bill and stuff. I really like it."

Hayler and Williams said they had a hard time finding people to help set up their solar-powered home, first using a company out of Virginia. They said Greenville now has some good options.

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