Switching off the grid is an attractive solution for people who want less dependence and more self-sufficiency. On the currently established institutions. Living a life where you are no longer dependent on the power company means you generate your own power, pump, or collect your own water, and usually grow your own food.
While this life is not for everybody, it is becoming increasingly popular as more people want to maintain their independence and limit their dependence on fossil fuels. Some people want to go partly “off the grid,” still depending somewhat on the connected system. That delivers water and electricity to the masses, but others prefer to be wholly self-sustaining.
Options For Living Off The Grid
There are many reasons people decide to live off the grid. Some wish to save money, while others are planning for the feasibility of a life-altering change to our way of living. If you’re searching for a change in lifestyle, living off the grid can be a viable option. Here are the most common ways to live off the grid.
Going ultimately off the grid, which means that you don’t depend on the authorities for energy, water, septic, or gas, is known as “roughing it.” This is the cheapest alternative and needs you to commit to important lifestyle changes.
If you select this option, you will probably need to build a small home on land that is fundamentally a ‘dry cabin.” This means that it will have no plumbing, running water, or electricity. You would require to construct an outhouse for sanitary requirements and have a rainwater catchment, well, or river nearby for bathing and drinking.
Most people who “rough it” cultivate their own food in their garden and build a small homestead to accommodate their families’ requirements. You’ll have to do something similar if you would like to be entirely independent because most people who “rough it” do.
While some individuals that “rough it” have a generator or solar panels which produce some power, many elects to forgo it altogether. You could select to rise and set with the sun and use alternative cooking and refrigeration systems as well.
Before moving into this lifestyle, you’ll need to decide if you’re ready to handle the challenges put forth by “roughing it.”
Partially Off The Grid
A good compromise for anybody who does not want to fully “rough it” would be to live half off and a half on the grid. This means that you don’t depend heavily on the contemporary system when needed to live a way of modern lifestyle.
For instance, you may still be hooked up to the town’s electricity for lighting at night or cooking, but avoid using it during the day. You could be hooked up to the sewage system of the town, yet use a well to draw water into your dwelling. Every half-off, half-on lifestyle is different, and it may include diverse combinations of independence with reduced reliance on the grid.
Many individuals find that living half-on/half-off the grid enables them to live comfortably and exceptionally affordably. If you have kids or are just testing the waters of an off-grid lifestyle, this might be a good option for you.
If you wish to take part in this lifestyle, you will probably wish to further your independence. By doing your own cleaning, growing your own food, and hygiene products, and raising chickens or livestock.
Modern Off-Grid Lifestyle
The modern lifestyle is the most popular option for living off the grid. It allows for nearly all the modern conveniences lifestyles afford, using technologies to stay self-sufficient.
While this is the most expensive option upfront, it can help you reduce your prices drastically. Your objective in this situation is to rely on the grid for nothing or little.
If you opt to go off-grid in this form, you will want to have a way to harness electricity. The most common means is by using solar panels on your terrace. Some people also opt to harness wind or water power if there is flowing water nearby.
Many people who live a modern off-grid lifestyle have a well and set up an electric well pump to provide running water right from the ground. Some also like to set up a hand crank option, just in case the electric well pump fails.
Your indoor bathroom can run into a septic tank rather than the sewage system. You’ll have the ability to shower and generally bathe if you’re ready to pump water.
If you have a modern off-grid system, you should be able to cook easily with modern appliances. Most people living a modern off-grid lifestyle grow their own food, make their own cleaning and bathing products, and raise chickens or cattle.
Steps to Living Off the Grid
If you choose to live off the grid is something that you want to do. You will have to approach it like a step-by-step process to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Decide on Your Living Room
Residence options for living off the grid are many, but most of them include downsizing in one form or another. Not only will downsizing allow for a simpler life and a smaller home, but living in a smaller home will let you use fewer resources and energy.
Tiny houses are a popular solution for people who do not have a small family or live a minimalist lifestyle. A small home can run on very minimal energy and still give you a comfortable place to eat, sleep, and cook. Most are even outfitted with little bathrooms.
Tiny homes can come in several different designs, from high-tech predesigned systems such as those featured in Rising or constructed by WheelHaus to little, bare-bones “dry sheds.” You may even buy small homes on Amazon!
For a more DIY way, you can decide to construct an Earthship, a small log cabin, or a yurt. You can go as elegant or minimal as you want, but there is a lot of advantages to keeping your house small. A small home lets you get off the grid faster and remain ready in case of an emergency situation.
Those who want a more large house can opt to build a multi-room farmhouse or large cabin. These are more functional for people who are living the modern off-grid or half-on, half-off lifestyle, as it’s hard to rough it with a big house to maintain.
Larger homes are more expensive to build and maintain, but if you can afford it, there are several absolutely stunning alternatives available. If you’re handy and can construct your own off the grid farmhouse, it may be an option to keep bigger homes affordable.
Once you have your home bought or built, ensure that you have a way to harvest water. As we mentioned previously, harvesting water will probably involve drilling a well and establishing a system to bring the running water into your property. Another choice is to harvest rainwater in big catchment containers to provide water for you and your loved ones.
You will need to prepare a septic system to take care of your waste unless you’re going to “rough it” with an outhouse.
Setting up a way to electricity is an essential step to living off the grid. The three most well-known options are solar panels, wind turbines, or hydroelectric power generators. They each have their advantages and disadvantages.
Solar Panels: Solar power is among the most popular and widely available alternatives when it comes to off-grid energy. This choice provides the sun’s power by photovoltaic solar panels and an inverter and batteries to store it. Since the sun is a renewable source, solar panels create an abundance of energy, and they need very little maintenance. The main drawback of solar panels is the initial cost, which can be quite high. Based upon your house’s size, it may take a number of solar panels to power the living area.
Wind Turbines: If you are living in an area with high average wind speed, producing energy from home-sized wind turbines is another fantastic solution for off-grid energy. A 400-watt wind turbine is enough to power some appliances, a 900-watt turbine is sufficient for a small house or small cabin, and a 10,000-watt turbine should be enough to power a larger dwelling. The downside to a wind turbine is the requirement for a constant breeze. While sunlight is very likely every day to shine, the wind can be more fickle. Energy is not generated if the wind doesn’t blow. Wind turbines also comprise moving parts, which means they require more maintenance than solar panels.
Micro-hydro Electricity: Among those less popular off-grid energy methods, micro-hydropower uses a source of running water. Such as a stream or small waterfall, to produce electricity. The energy brought on by water flowing from a higher altitude to a lower altitude turns a turbine and generates electricity.
This can be among the very cost-effective alternatives. It could power between 10 and 100 times more energy than solar or wind to the same monetary investment. If the water source is continuously flowing, you can get an energy system that runs 24 hours per day throughout the year.
The main downside is that you require a supply of running water on your house to have a micro-hydro electricity system.
Make A Home Garden
Growing your food can be among the simplest ways to become self-supporting of the system. While there are some initial costs in starting and some investment of time needed, it can be immensely rewarding to eat food you’ve got grown yourself.
You will need to buy gardening tools, fertilizer, seeds, and anything else needed to prepare a garden. If you reside in a dry area, you will require a way to water the plants. Based on your family size, you will require to assess how large a garden you want.
You can also decide to have a small farm with cattle and chickens to have meat available to consume.
Living Off the Grid Expenses and Savings
If you choose to live off the grid, you will have some initial investments and expenses to make sure you’re able to live comfortably. Even if you are “roughing it,” you’re most likely to have a couple things to buy upfront.
If you’re lucky, you’ll already have a home, land, and possibly well, which will reduce costs significantly.
You will want to buy some land to live on, and if this property has a river or stream running through, it is beneficial. If it does not, you’ll have to build a rainwater catchment. Buy a tiny home, or you’ll have to construct a cabin style home also. Based on the lifestyle and where you are located, you decide on this can set you back $100k or more.
Options for Storing Electricity
Solar panels, a hydroelectric power generator, or a wind turbine would be the three most famous options for generating electricity. Solar panel technology is enhancing all the time, making it more affordable than ever to purchase these for your house.
· Solar Panels: $11,000 — $15,000
The typical cost for solar panels varies by area, and some provinces provide tax credits. Most people pay anywhere from $2.71 to $3.57 per watt to install solar. The average gross price before tax credits is $18,840. Based upon the number of tax credits you are allowed and the size of your house. You will end up paying between $11,380 to $14,990 for solar panels.
· Wind Turbines: $4,000 — $30,000
If you are choosing a wind turbine, you will need to live in a wide-open space with plenty of wind. The installation and cost of a wind turbine big enough to power home prices around $30,000 on average. You can find small turbines for as low as $4,000, however, so based on your energy usage, it could be less expensive than solar panels.
· Hydro Powered Electricity: $20,000-$100,000
If you’re lucky enough to live near running water, a hydro-powered system can be a great, lower-cost option. The place to farm-scale hydro systems can cost between $1,500 – $10,000 for the gear, but setup can differ considerably based on the water sources available, distance to it, and energy demands of your residence. Fully-installed models can cost between $20,000 – $100,000 or more.
Water and Septic
If you like to have running water on the home, you’ll have to drill a well and an electric pump. The cost is about $1,500 to $12,000, depending on the depth required.
After the well is drilled, you’ll have to set up a pump and underground piping to take the water to your home. This can add anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 to the cost. This brings the normal price for digging a well and setting up a private water supply system. To $3,500 to $20,000, based on your location.
A water catchment tank is a less expensive option that will set you back between $3,000 and $5,000.
The average cost to put in a 1,000-gallon septic tank is between $600 and $1000. You might have to purchase replacement components and some building permits as needed, which may raise the cost a little.
Growing Your Own Food
The initial investment for starting a garden could be anywhere between $200 to $500, and it can produce a good amount of food once started.
If you’re meat eaters, it may be handy to get some chickens or cattle also. The prices will be different depending on what type of meat you want and how large your family is. The Elliott Homestead does an excellent job of breaking down the costs to feed family meat for a year.
Savings from Living Off the Grid
Once you have made the initial investments, the savings from living off the grid can be meaningful. While people who live in traditional homes pay monthly for using things like electricity, water, and waste disposal. People who live entirely off the grid will pay nothing or very little every month.
The average home costs anywhere from $150 to $500 per month on electricity or $1,800 to $6,000 annually. Waste and water may cost $60 a month on average or $720 a year. Gas will set you back $984 annually or $82 per month. All together, bills, not covering rent or mortgage, average out to around $5,604 per year for the average family. That’s a massive saving!
The expense of building a house off the grid may cost a fraction of what houses in the city price. With the average house cost sitting at about $350,000 and rising each year, alternative living can mean substantial savings.
Based on how you want to live, the cost for most off-grid homes and property is anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. If you understand the fact that most people spend an extra $70,000 on off-grid upgrades. You are still under the national home price average and will not have to pay monthly bills.
If you can cultivate your own food and increase your livestock, you may expect to have very low monthly overheads.
Once you opt to live off the grid, be ready for a significant commitment. The benefits can be enormous. Apart from the financial benefits, people living off-the-grid experience a more independent lifestyle, independent from the environment.
Lowering your carbon footprint and living a healthier lifestyle is something that you can anticipate if you’re living off the grid. As you are growing and cultivating your own food, you know exactly what is going into your body.
If you want an off the grid lifestyle today you will have security in the future should anything happen to the food and electrical grid or water supply. When the initial costs are paid off, you may need to worry about monthly bills. May have the ability to work part-time or work on your homestead.
If you can have this kind of lifestyle, it can be one of the most gratifying experiences you ever select!