For many, going 100% off the grid is a dream come true. Not only that it could save you money, but it also can bring you that incredible feeling of satisfaction, knowing that you are doing everything you can for the environment.
To reach that goal, however, you have to keep in mind that you cannot do it overnight. In fact it is a continuous process, and the best thing to do in order to ensure that you do not sacrifice your personal needs, is to do it all gradually and think everything through. You have to consider carefully the location of your property, so that you can generate a maximum amount of renewable energy, and you will have to think of how to manage your water, drainage, and food supply, because yes, these are part of the “going off the grid” deal.
The best people to ask for advice on how to proceed and where to start are those, who have already walked the path and are now enjoying the benefits of a self-sufficient, sustainable living. Here is what they had to say:
1. Realize what you are about to do.
Going completely off the grid means that you unplug from all the services that your home is connected to. These include not only the power grid, but also the water supply and community utilities, like garbage collection.
Having said that, nowadays there is nothing that can prevent you from having a comfortable yet sustainable and 100% off the grid lifestyle. Here is what modern technology has to offer:
- Renewable energy is there for you- solar, wind and/or hydro power, even DIY biogas plants– everything is within your reach.
- The market offers large, light and super easy to install water storage tanks.
- Compost toilets and compost bins are much more trouble.
- Satellite and wireless technology is always there to keep you connected with the world.
- Tips on insulation and home designs for heating and cooling are available to you from everywhere.
2. The most important things to know in advance:
- Summer is hot
- Winter is cold
- Nights are dark
- Gardens need good soil
- Water does not run uphill
Find a way to handle these and you will be just fine.
3. Know how to stay warm.
This is the most important and challenging point of all, because solar panels alone can hardly ever handle the whole burden. Here are a few extra tips:
- Fit a slow-combustion wood fire in the main living area
- Insulate all walls and ceiling
- Make use of passive heating, such as placing large glass doors in kitchen to face positive sun direction
- Consider the suitable home interior and exterior design, including window size, placement, and coverings.
- Do not allow large trees in the garden to block the incoming sun.
4. What is ‘junk’ really?
Going off the grid makes you realize how many things around you are completely unnecessary, and the other way round- things that you thought are junk are in fact extremely useful. Take a good look at all these things that eat up energy, waste water, or simply block the incoming light- you will be amazed.
5. The sun is your new best friend.
And this is not only because it hits your solar panels or helps you heat up the house in winter. The most important solar-powered item you will need to put your hands on will be the solar water heater. Incoming solar light warms up the water in your existing water tanks without additional power usage, allowing you to have a nice hot shower even in the coldest winters.
6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Going off the grid gives recycling a whole new meaning. As soon as you have something tat you want to dispose of, the first thing that crosses your mind is not whether it goes in the green bin, or the orange one. In fact, you ask yourself- “how else can I use it”.
7. Choose your location carefully.
This is very essential. The chosen location should have suitable soil and climate so that you can do essential gardening and grow your fresh produce. In addition, you will need plenty of sunshine, good amount of rainfall, and of course pleasurable landscape that you can enjoy.
Yes, unfortunately, going 100% off-grid somehow means that you will have to leave your old neighborhood behind and move to the country.
8. Get familiar with the off-grid currency and the community.
Off-grid currency is something that you do not think of before you have to actually use it. That is, in fact, everything, from the organic produce in your garden, all the way to your DIY skills, streetlights, cleaning abilities, cooking abilities, sewing abilities, etc., etc..
Get to know your neighbors and your community. The best advice and help could come from the most unexpected places.
Of course, these are only tips collected from people who are already embracing a sustainable off-grid life. It is important to note that there is no single formula for reaching the goal, because it all depends on your personal needs, location, and will. You also have to make sure that you do not sacrifice safety, and you meet all the necessary sanitary requirements.
If you are really serious about it, then check out the official guide for going off the grid by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Good luck! Do not give up!
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