How to Live Off-Grid Successfully
If you have been wondering how to live off grid - "is it really possible?" and "can I do it?" the quick answer to all of these questions is, "Yes!".
The long answer is still yes, just with a lot more things to take into consideration. Living off grid will take a commitment of time, resources, and determination. You will really need to believe in what you are doing, have a vision for it, and want to make it work despite the obstacles that will plague you.
Living Off Grid Takes Practice
Living off grid is not the easiest way to live. Until you do it you don't even know the things that you are going to have to give up. The big things are easy to figure out: Refrigerators Heating systems Television Kitchen Appliances
There are other things that many people don't think about until they are actually in the midst of it.
- Hair dryers
- Clock radios
- Washing machines
- Can openers
- Coffee makers
There are a myriad of small electronics that people use daily that may not work with your new lifestyle. It isn't that they are necessary objects, they are conveniences. Yet, for many of us, convenience gives us the foundation of our lives.
If you are still thinking of living off grid then there are a few decisions to be made.
Designing an Off Grid Home
Where To Live Off-Grid
- When you go off grid are you going to do it in your current home?
- Will you need to move?
- Will you choose to build a new home or restore an old one?
- What part of the country will you choose?
Knowing how to live off-grid in different environments will help you to make the choice that is best for you.
Going Off Grid Where You Live Now
You might think that those questions are secondary but they are not. It is entirely possible to go off grid right where you live, if you own your own home. In fact you can begin learning how to live off grid today. Solar panels can be added. Circuits can be turned off. Water can be discontinued and wells can be dug. Research should be done into alternative forms of energy, appliances, and different ways to run a household when standard energy isn't being used.
It is harder to move off grid in a subdivision but it can be done, depending on your homeowner's association and local policies.
Moving to a New Location
If you are planning to move then take the time to consider your needs, desires, and the various benefits and negatives of different parts of the country. For example, in Texas where I live the benefit is apparent. The winters are basically mild. While we do get cold snaps they are interspersed with warmer weather. There are a total of three growing seasons. It doesn't take a whole lot to stay warm in the winter if you can handle 50 to 60 degrees.
On the other hand we can go two to three months in the summer with out a drop of rain. This means that you will be hand carrying water to your garden. Summers are hot. Living without air conditioning when it is 110 outside is challenging, at least until you get used to it.
If you are going to make a move then you should consider areas where there are not extremes of temperature or of rainfall.
Things to Consider
The other important thing to consider is the locality.
- Will you continue to work at a job?
- If so how long will your commute be?
- How far can you afford to live from the place that you work?
- Is the location you are looking at economically sound?
- Will you have access to groceries, church, gasoline, medical care?
All of these questions will need to be researched and answered before you begin to look at moving to a new location.
Learning How to Live Off Grid
Now that you have established where you are going off grid the question is how to do it. The best place to start is by analyzing all of your electrical usage for a month. Exactly how much electricity do you use on an average?
Most off grid systems can not handle the load that modern man puts on them. You will probably need to cut back on your usage. The next thing to do, then, is to figure out how to cut back on your energy use. Will you use a propane stove or refrigerator? Wood stove?
If you choose to use a wood stove or heat will you have access to wood? How will you light your home in the evenings?
What type of solar do you plan to use? Is your home designed in such a way that passive solar can be used?
Types of Off-Grid Energies
There are a number of types of energy for off grid homes.
- Water (micro-hydro)
The biggest need will be for heat and cooking. Once you have those two things decided you are pretty much good to go. Cooking on a woodstove is difficult for most people to adjust to but it can be done. Many people, once they learn to do it, would not go back to cooking in an electric oven!
Conserving energy is one of the best ways to deal with your energy needs. Anyone can do that, no matter where they are.
What Can I Do Today?
Start right where you are. Most people cannot afford to just go off grid one day. It is a process of both investing in the products needed and doing the research to gain the knowledge to do it.
Tips for Saving Energy Right Now
Conserve energy where you are.
- Use solar hot water heaters
- Use heat exchange units
- Caulk doors and windows
- Let your body acclimate to colder than normal or warmer than normal temperatures
- Get a clothesline and stop using the dryer.
- Upgrade insulation.
- If your refrigerator or freezer is over 10 years old, consider buying a new, energy efficient model, or even a propane one.
In other words, see how low you can go. Get rid of the electric clock radio, the power drill, and the microwave. Try to get the electric bill down to the bare minimum.
Evaluate Your Need for Power
Once you get your electric usage under control you will be in a better position to see whether or not you will be comfortable going off grid completely. Even if you decide going off grid completely is not something you want to do you will have learned how to save on your electric bill, and that is a big benefit.
Going off grid is not for everyone. It is really an investment in a much simpler lifestyle. It does not have to cost thousands of dollars. Just do what you can, where you can.
Taking the steps slowly, researching, and learning how to live off grid will help you to make a smooth and successful transition if you decide that going off grid is for you.