With the advent of an era with (nearly) affordable battery storage, the last decade recorded a massive of 1.7 billion people living off-grid worldwide. More and more people are interested in living a completely self-sufficient life, disconnecting from the electricity grid. For the first time, off-grid living looks like it may be feasible virtually anyone – even for urban households.
Off-grid doesn’t imply that you’ll be recreating a period drama with your life. It doesn’t mean to have utility poverty, and ‘going without’. Living off-grid involves immense hard-work, it will require sacrifices and you’ll need to be economical in terms of using energy. But eventually, you’ll be living a live that not only compares to that of any regular being still dependent on the grid, but likely with more benefits, incredible scenic views, a sense of purpose and less carbon footprint over the world. Over a billion people across the world have no access to an energy grid and are still doing fine. So, wave-off the wary and consider the following things before you begin with your new, self-sustainable life:
Realize what you’re about to do –
At first, before you take the sustainable plunge, you need to know the real reason behind your decision to go and live off-grid. Find your reasoning and then create a plan that supports your vision. Also, it is important to realize that off-grid living doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. It requires proper outlook since you’ll unplug yourself from the society and all the services that your home is connected to, including water supply and community utilities.
With new technological advancements, it is completely feasible to have a comfortable yet sustainable off-grid lifestyle. Few of the modern technologies that can assist you in your mission are as follows:
- Reap on the renewable energy sources like solar, wind and/or hydro power. Even do-it-yourself biogas equipment is available to produce substitute for conventional fuels.
- Satellite communication and wireless technology is available to keep you connected with the world.
- Compost toilets and compost bins are readily available.
- Insulation and home-design for heating and cooling is everywhere.
- The market also has large and smart water-storage tanks and battery storage equipment.
The most important things to know in advance –
Find a way to handle the extreme weather conditions to survive. The hottest summer, the chilly winters, the darkest night – you need to be prepared for all in case of power failure. Even if your solar & storage system huge enough to not consider any additional form of power generation, there are few situations that your system might fail to supply energy. Know how to stay warm in such cases:
- Install a slow-combustion fireplace powered by wood in the mail living area. Take care of the safety measures.
- Use passive heating methods in the house such as placing large glass doors facing the positive sun direction.
- Keep the walls and ceiling of the house insulated.
- Make sure the house has enough space on roof to fit sufficient solar panels. If it doesn’t, invest in higher-efficiency panels, or reduce your electricity consumption.
- Make sure the large trees in the garden do not block the incoming sunlight.
Choose Your Location Carefully and Adapt –
This is very essential since you’ll almost depend completely on your land. The suitable soul and climate to grow your fresh produce is among the crucial criteria in setting up your new lifestyle. Analyze the property from different angles, including latitude and longitude positioning, natural energy resources, exposure to the sun and rain, and availability of fresh water. If you are unaware of the know-how, you can hire an expert architect to help you with the design and installation of essential parts of an off-grid lifestyle.
In order to make your off-grid living work, it is important to keep a balance between the behavior changes you’re willing to adopt and the amount you invest in the system. Going 100% off-grid would mean leaving your old neighborhood behind and move to a completely new place with zero societal facilities. No having guests over, no hosting a party, just the nature and you, sometimes dealing with extreme weather challenges.
Build a community with your off-grid neighbors. Seek advices and help each other. It is important to note it all depends on your personal needs, location, and will. You also have to make sure that you meet all the necessary sanitary requirements and do not sacrifice safety.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle –
The concept of living off-grid might sound new, but the idea of “going green” has been around for decades. Perhaps the primitive stages of promoting sustainable living started in school with the slogan ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. Or perhaps it was when the sight of a curbside “green bin” or “blue bin” became the norm in your neighborhood. Today going green has new meaning across Western culture. It’s about energy independence. You don’t directly turn to the bin nowadays, in fact, you ask yourself the reuse question “How can I give it a second life?”
With a brief though and creative imagination, you can reduce your carbon footprint on the environment. All the food scraps and the bio-waste could go in the compost pile in the backyard. Old jars can become decorative glasses or flower pots, plastic bottles (in case you still use them) could be used to make a greenhouse, cans can be used to make a room heather or even solar panels.
If you’re determined to live off-grid, you need to figure out ways to achieve a sustainable lifestyle. A crucial decision is whether you will leave the system design and installation to the professionals or consider doing it yourself. There’s no easy way to go off the grid. It’s not a lazy lifestyle. Make sure you have a precise goal and don’t forget what the important things are.