For many people the world over, living off-grid is something of a dream. There are plenty of people that have chosen to do it, but for those wondering about such an option, it can be a little scary. What do you picture when you think of off-grid living? Sitting on the porch watching the world go by with the squeak of a wind generator in the background and a sparkle from your solar panels? Do you picture having a plasma screen TV, hot showers whenever you want one, cooking on a wood burner and children out playing in the field?
Off-grid living is not quite so idyllic and requires a number of life changes. There are also certain things you need to have in place before saying goodbye to your utilities. Your off-grid homestead is going to need inverters, batteries, wind generators and photovoltaics. You’re going to need heaps of patience, perseverance, and determination. If you’re still convinced off-grid is the life for you and your family, keep reading for some useful tips.
What Does Off-Grid Living Mean?
If you want to live a more sustainable life and use renewable energy, off the grid living is worth considering. It means different things to different people, but basically, it involves cutting ties with utility companies, growing your own food and living “green.” The grid that is referred to is the electrical system that delivers power to the average home and business. Being off-the-grid simply means being disconnected. For some people, it is making a statement and being free from reliance on public utilities, food or housing. It is a very simple way of life, and for thousands of people, it is the perfect way to live.
Why People Choose to Live Off-Grid
- No utility bills to pay
- Responsible for their own resources
- Feel more connected to nature and the world outside
- Learning how to live without electricity
- A sense of accomplishment and achievement
- To make their own lifestyle choices
- Learn new skills
- You can build your house wherever you want
- Growing their own food, harvesting it and preserving it
- Reduce their carbon footprint
These are just a few of the reasons why people choose to make such a big lifestyle change. Talk to those who are living it, and you’ll get many more reasons.
How to Pick the Best Location
Regardless of your reasons for choosing to live off-the-grid, the location in which you decide to do it is important. Theoretically, it’s possible to do it anywhere, but why do it in the middle of a suburban location? There are far better spots. A number of factors need to be considered. For example, what kind of climate can you expect? Is the weather fairly consistent or does it change considerably through the seasons? Are there natural resources nearby you can use? If you’re planning to grow your own food, you need the soil to be good enough. Is there a source of water nearby or does it rain enough for you to collect it?
Multiple Power Sources Will Give You More Options
Just because you’ve decided to live off-grid doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up everything. If you use different power sources rather than just using one, you’re going to have more options. If you want to keep using your devices, you can charge them with a solar charging system. Solar panels for house, wind and water power can all have a place, as long as conditions allow.
You need to think about how you use your energy. After all, the supply of it will be finite. It is easy to do. You just need to adapt your habits and plan carefully. For example, monitor what you use and make sure your house is properly insulated. Turn lights off when leaving a room.
Should You Collect Rainwater?
Seems a no-brainer, especially as it’s free. It’s also a lot easier than carrying a bucket from a stream to your home. Even if the rainfall where you live is average, you’ll be surprised how much water you can collect. You will need to construct an efficient rainwater collection system, but you’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come. There will be water on tap for your family’s needs and for the garden.
The other option for your water supply will be to dig a well. It will, however, depend on the quality of the groundwater. Rainwater is the better option, because it is less likely to be polluted, contains fewer minerals and is easy to collect. It also needs to be filtered, purified, preserved and stored.
Growing Your Own Veg and Raising Animals
It’s possible to become more self-sufficient by growing your own fruit and vegetables and raising livestock. Chickens are really easy to keep along with rabbits. Rabbits, in particular, breed easily, are a good source of meat and are simple to rear. As well as being a good source of eggs, chickens are great in the garden because they eat the garden pests. Both also provide a ready to use fertilizer that will help your plants to grow well.
If you’ve been considering self-sufficiency for a while now but just haven’t had the nerve to take the plunge, this article should have provided you with some food for thought. For those of you who are serious, the internet has a wealth of useful information. Bear the tips above in mind when you’re making the switch to an off-grid lifestyle, and you’ll have a general idea of what to expect. It’s not going to be an easy transition, but it will definitely be one you’ll find rewarding in the long run. You will also feel a true sense of accomplishment.
One last point to mention is this should be a family decision. You’ll never be able to do it on your own, and all the family needs to be onboard. Everything that happens from now on will affect all members of the family, and you’ll need to be comfortable helping each other out.