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Chris AndersonAfter the ice storms of the past 24 hours, the entire town of Peterborough, New Hampshire, is plunged in darkness  – except for one off-grid home.

Chris Anderson and Anna Von Mertens live on a 14-acre lot  not far from the center. The 5,000 sq ft house cost about $600,000 to build – but right now the extra $150,000 over and above an equivalent on-the-grid house, seems like money extremely well spent. Not only are there no electricity or gas bills, there is power.

For New Hampshire, the power outages dwarfed those during the infamous Ice Storm of ’98, when some residents spent more than a week in the dark.

In Peterborough, Mark Cegelis, 36, said things were hectic at his neighborhood gas station, which was jammed with people trying to get gas for home generators.

“It’s kind of lawless out there right now,” he said. “There’s a lot of people very frustrated stacking up at the gas stations. It’s pretty ugly.”

The Anderson house is warm in the deepest snow. Those passive-solar windows that bring the panoramic mountain range into view, are triple-paned, which cost about $8,000 more than double-paned would have and reduced energy needs.

The house has a chicken coop, 49 solar panels on the roof, two tanks totaling 2,000 gallons that feed 80-degree water through the radiant-heat flooring, 24 heavy-duty solar-powered batteries that kick in when the sun goes down, and a wood-pellet boiler that acts as an adjunct and heats water for showering and laundry. The couple acknowledge that they went above and beyond what was needed, but, says Von Mertens, a textile artist, “we wanted to be uber-efficient.”

They used as much wood as possible from the pine stand that was cleared from the site – for flooring, subflooring, and garage walls, as well as for the built-in cabinetry in the master’s walk- in closet and for much of the furniture, which Von Mertens’s father built by hand.

The living/dining area opens to the contemporary kitchen, a media room with flat- screen TV and state-of-the-art stereo system, a cozy sunroom overlooking the wooded yard, a large two-car garage (sheltering a Honda hybrid), and four bedrooms, including a master suite with a soaking tub that looks out to the soaring Wapack Range on the horizon. Poured-concrete floors not only look cool but are energy-efficient, since they absorb the sunlight streaming in. The eight Eames chairs in the dining room are “recycled” eBay finds.

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