His Cleburne County home draws electricity from solar panels. His water comes from rainwater he has captured and stored. His gas to heat the house and run his refrigerator and stove comes from a 500-gallon propane tank he fills once about every 18 months.
“The truth of the matter is, I was initially going to have them run me power, but they wanted $47,000 to run me power,” Poynter said. “I just didn’t think that was financially smart.”
So he started looking for alternatives to power his home.
“I got some solar panels up and I got some more to put up and I got a wind turbine to put up,” Poynter said. “There’s a lot of other countries that do that. I don’t know why we’re not doing it more.”
The last eight years have been a learning experience. He’s been doing most of the work himself. He’s read a lot of books and whenever he runs into someone who’s living similarly he’ll swap tips with them.
“I’ve talked to electricians and as poor as I am in electrical, I seem to know more than them about solar and wind turbines and stuff like that,” he said. “I think an electrician who really started getting into that area, too, I think they could do well.”
He stores the rainwater he collects and has a capacity of about 7,000 gallons. While he got low last year during the height of the drought, he never ran out, Poynter said.
While most people aren’t going to extreme “green” lifestyles, energy costs are rising, and consumers are looking for ways to save energy.
Tommy Messer, owner of Messer Hardware in Bowdon, said his sales of energy-efficient products are up.
People are replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescent-style bulbs. Caulk, weather stripping, and insulation are all moving and some bigger-ticket items are also starting to sell well.
“We’re seeing some movement now. People are beginning to look at wood heaters versus paying for LP or natural gas,” Messer said. “We’re selling electrical heaters for a lot of the folks to use as a supplement to their gas (heaters).”
He’s also noticed that as propane has risen faster than natural gas, people are switching to natural gas from propane, he said.
“People are doing whatever they can,” Messer said.
Georgia Power offers a variety of services to help its customers save energy. Its Web site offers energy saving tips, a virtual house tour that shows how to save energy in every room in the house, some common causes of high energy bills and energy check-ups by phone to help customers address specific issues in their homes.
The company also offers energy audits of customers’ houses -- a technician comes to the house, inspects it and offers advice to increase energy efficiency in the house.
“So far, June year-to-date, we’ve seen about a 3 percent increase in the number of on-site energy audits,” said Jeff Wilson, spokesman for Georgia Power.
The company had performed 1,748 energy audits through the end of June.
A lot of it is just common sense, Poynter said.
“Basically, all we’re doing, if you want to get right down to it, we’re relearning everything our great-grandparents took for granted,” he said. “The difference is we have more high tech-ery going on.”
People want to know how he watches TV, but he’s not worried about that. He tries to make it cost-effective or does without, and although he has to conserve energy because his supply is limited to what his panels collect, he lives the way most people do in their homes, he said.
“I got a gas stove and a gas oven,” Poynter said. “A microwave I don’t have, I don’t want. I’m not really a TV person. I watch the news.”
His girlfriend will watch a movie and even “fires up the computer” once in a while, he said.