So, you’ve thought about living off the grid and you’re wondering if it is right for you.
By now you know that it means no more utility bills and generating all of your own power and water (and maybe even food and other necessary living supplies), but what’s really involved in that?
It isn’t as easy as slapping a few solar panels on the roof and calling it good. You’re not just cutting the cord to the old grid, you’re building your own grid from scratch.
That sounds way more daunting than it really it, but it still requires careful planning, from how to find cheap land, how to build a cheap home, and how to use solar power to cut your monthly utility bills.
Why Are You Going Off Grid?
Are you thinking of building a new house, renovating or expanding an existing one?
Do you want to dramatically cut your bills or are you more worried about your footprint in the environment?
Or, like many, is it because you simply don’t want to put the welfare of yourself and your family in the hands of a delicate nation-wide system that you have no control over?
Consider building “green.” Not only is it the environmentally friendly way to go, but also the socially responsible thing to do.
What To Consider
One of the most important things you should consider is energy efficiency. Imagine your new grid from start to finish. Start at creating your own energy – using either solar, wind, hydro, or geothermal power – to how you will store it, then use it, and also how you will keep from wasting it.
The efficiency of your power generation should be considered, as well as how much power you can do without. Heating water with a DIY solar heater instead of a traditional water heater for example.
Consider too how you will heat and how well your lovely homestead will be insulated. Money spent on good insulation is not wasted. Bringing your house past R-value code will mean less wasted energy (whether solar, wind, or wood).
A sustainable home is also well-designed and laid out in such a way that it takes advantage of passive heating and cooling. A house with 60 percent of its windows facing south (passive solar) may have its heating requirements reduced by as much as 25 percent for virtually no cost. Using tile flooring that will hold heat longer will further reduce your heating costs.
Another thing that must be considered is the economical use of water. Even if you have a well you must still generate the energy to pump (and possibly store) it. Not to mention that a gallon of water wasted is still forever wasted, whether from a tap or a well.
Greywater, or wastewater from bathing, dishwashing, bathroom sinks and washing machines can be reused to flush toilets, wash cars or, if treated, to water plants.
Collecting rain water from roofs and gutters will also add to your surplus.
“Green” homes are dwellings that use renewable and natural resources.
“Green” building is often associated with sustainable architecture such as earth houses and planted roofs, but it’s actually a whole lot more than that.
Green homes seek to minimize the negative impact of buildings on the environment by using energy efficient materials and appliances. They also seek to recycle things such as greywater and also try to maximize space and material efficiency while minimizing their use of energy and water.
The easiest solution is to start with a small cabin. They are cheaper, it is easier to control the variables, and they can be finished fairly quickly. Not to mention they can be a great bug out location if you decide to go that route.
Tiny homes are all the rage now and before they were HGTV mainstream they were a way of life for many people.
Learn how to start a simple solar homestead with a tiny cabin in this great video.