Deciding to swap a plugged-in lifestyle for one that thrives off-grid can be a big decision. However, it’s not as complicated as it might seem. And keep in mind — you don’t have to go all the way.
We know it can be a large change, and there are plenty of things you have to decide regarding your new future and how it will pan out. Factors such as current lifestyle, finances, location, and other elements will play a big role in how you can approach this. Your skill levels will also play a factor – are you willing to do all of your own plumbing, for example? And, realistically, can you? You’ll have to consider areas like this–among many others–to help your final decision.
Basically, off-grid living means taking care of your electric, gas, water, sewage, and other utilities independently, rather than paying a company. If you’re just starting out, the best way to approach the situation is to research, research, research. Check out details about your home/building you live in, electricity, plumbing, water, gas, engine, repair, electrical, and more.
At the on-set, it is also important to note that it does cost a little more to get started, so unless you’re rolling in some wealth, you will need to establish some savings and money for the things you need. Build a prioritized checklist, including things like implementing solar panels, or learning about breaker boxes, piping, and so on, and start to scour the Internet for cheap and used sources.
What’s the Point?
Many people choose the option of off-grid living because they have to. They may have lost a job, or their home due to foreclosure, or perhaps a natural disaster took its toll. Others, though, are worried about the future of the environment–and opt to look into renewable resources as a widespread solution. It also increases self-sufficiency, decreases bill payments, and moves towards a relaxed lifestyle.
Food and Drink
Food and water obviously play a big role in living, though living off the grid doesn’t necessarily play a roll in preserving much of it. This is why stocking up on dry foods, dehydrated foods, and canned goods–basically things that don’t require refrigeration–is necessary. Since you’ll be looking for options in bulk, make sure that these items are stored properly in order to not attract animals. When it comes to water, consider the option of a water tank, and use a filter or purifier to make sure it is safe to use. Because we use water to drink, cook, wash, and water the areas around us, we definitely need this in abundance. Many folks who live off the grid use different forms of water collection systems in their homes, such as wells, rain barrels, and grey water systems.
Ridding the Waste
We already know that a reason for moving off-grid is that municipal waste systems, such as garbage pick-up, are costly and not the best for the environment. To help remedy this, consider composting. Composting is an excellent way to put scraps and waste back into the environment, replenishing it with much needed healthy nutrients to help it thrive. You can scatter it over a garden, grass, or any outdoor space, or create an indoor vermicompost bin.
If You Want to Build
If you’ve decided to move out of the old place, buy some land, and build an off-grid home, it’s not as intimidating as you might think. It’s quite possible you should consider an expert: after all, the worst approach would be to buy cheap building materials, using sketchy contractors, over-estimating your building capabilities, or try to do too much. Let the professionals be the professionals, learn everything you can, and take the time down the road to eventually take the power in your own hands.
Another thing to keep in mind is that before you buy, you should double check if you need permission. There are sometimes restrictions on what you can build on, so be aware. In some situations, it might even be more viable to buy land that already has a building on it that you can knock down and replace. Yes, the upfront cost will be more, but it could also save you money if you have the electrical connections, drainage services and pipes, and other elements that you still might need.
Worrying About the Weather
We’ve definitely seen some wet weather in our day, and if you live off-the-grid, this can be a lot more menacing. If you’re moving to a new location, you might want to choose somewhere that you’ll have greater protection from flooding and rising sea levels all year round. Some places, such as Australia, Indonesia, France, and the Philippines, for example, have seen larger amounts of rainfall and snowfall in the past years since global warming has really moved in place. Because temperatures are continually rising, the warm air expands to hold more moisture–which results in more rainfall.
So what can you do?
When you’re looking for an area, avoid areas that have previously been flood-prone, and seek out information to find out what might happen if you’re in an area where there could potentially be a flood. Some certain things could cause health issues — IE if the local sewage becomes flooded — so you’ll want to know if there are risks involved. Make sure that in the case of a wind storm–whether minimal but strong or a hurricane–that your building is secured, too. And if the seasons are brutal, there can definitely be a lot of preparedness needed for winter off-the-grid.
Living off the grid is also all about being prepared. Though everyone should be prepared anyway — after all, natural disasters can wreak havoc on any home or building. If you are foreseeing a natural disaster on the way, you should be prepared with the following:
- one gallon per person per day of water
- non-perishable food to feed each person per day
- can opener
- battery-powered weather radio with tone alert
- hand-cranked flashlight for backup
- hand-cranked radio for backup
- first aid kit
- moist towelettes
- garbage bags
- cell phones and chargers (or other devices, like tablets)
- duct tape
- dust masks
- whistle or horn for help signal
However, if you are living off the grid, you should have plenty of these anyway. Always be prepared, starting months in advance, with canning, collecting seeds, fire starting methods, drinking water, ammo and weapons, escape routes, solar panels, extra gas, and more.
When you start to live off the grid, you want to start thinking of incorporating a little more “do it yourself”. DIY projects will save you money, time, and, if done right, energy, as well. When you are trying to just hanker down the basics, these two projects can help get you started, and check out some ways to get cooking the low-carbon way.
DIY Washing Machine: Gather a five gallon bucket and a toilet plunger. Cut two or three holes in the plunger so the water can flow through, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Put your laundry int he bucket, fill it with enough water to cover the clothes, and add in some laundry soup. Cut a hold in the lid that will fit the handle of the plunger. Put the plunger in the bucket, put the lid on (sliding it down over the handle), and begin to plunge.
DIY Laundry Soap: Take a bar of soap and grate it finely, trying to get it as powder like as possible. Add equal amounts of borax and washing soda, measuring by volume. (One part: one part: one part). Put in a container, mix well. Use about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mixture per wash load.
An Easy Way To Start
Living more efficiently can definitely be intimidating, so an easy way to incorporate a little more off-grid living into your life is generating your own electricity. There are plenty of options, and although some are costly, they generally begin to benefit you down the road. There are a few things in bear in mind when you get started. For example, wind turbines, well, they might die down if there isn’t any wind, and if there is battery back-up, it might not always be enough. Some circumstances might require more sources of backup to ensure that they can be counted on. Having a backup generator is key, an you can use a gasoline generator to back the batteries. Gasoline generators run about ten percent of the fuel cost to a coal-fired power plant and, of course, you don’t use it nearly as long.
The biggest key here is to do your research. There are plenty of ways to move toward a life that is more off-the-grid, benefiting your wallet and the environment — a win-win situation. If you’re a part of the lifestyle already or just moving into it, the time is definitely now: getting started will bring you closer with our planet, which will be the biggest benefit of all.