The benefits of living off the grid are pretty obvious, you become far less reliant on the big energy companies, you enjoy a self-reliant lifestyle, reduce your carbon footprint and if approached with the right attitude it can improve your wellbeing.
However, living off grid can have as many if not more problems than a normal lifestyle but if you approach them with a can do attitude they can usually be overcome and you can even get much satisfaction from this. You will start to develop a “think out the box” mentality and more resilience.
Let’s have a quick look at some of the things you need to take into account to make a success when off grid living.
The first consideration is accommodation, you could choose to stay where you are and adapt your current accommodation to incorporate a more off grid lifestyle. You may wish to relocate and buy or rent a property that better lends itself to living off grid but remember, if you are renting you will require permissions from your landlord for alterations. Likewise, if you purchase a property or land erecting a building or alterations will almost certainly require local permissions. Many people find that purchasing a camper van is a great introduction to off grid living which has the added attraction of being able to relocate with ease.
If you opt to go off grid you will have to consider how far you go and what basic services you want to provide for yourself. The three basics are power, water and sewerage. There can be many ways be self sufficient and provide these services so let’s have a quick look at a few of the options available. Remember you may well need a combination of these options to meet your needs.
Learn everything there is to know about off grid power sources.
Depending on your location solar power is a good option which is fairly maintenance free once installed and can be roof mounted if space is an issue. Ideally you will need to have about five to six hours of daylight per day and have the panels positioned to obtain the maximum benefit. Excess power can be stored in batteries until required.
This has been used for generations and modern turbines are now much more user friendly and if you locate them properly as long as there is wind you will generate energy 24/7. They may have a visual impact on your surroundings but I must say, I find it quite therapeutic watching them spin round producing free electricity. Excess power can be stored in batteries until required.
This is a good option if you have a stream flowing through your property and one you should really consider as this is a great way to generate power 24/7. Again, this is a source of power that has been used for centuries in mills as a source of energy. Excess power can be stored in batteries until required.
There are companies that offer combinations of all three of the above to meet your needs. You will then be able to generate power in most weather conditions. Obviously, this requires more equipment so will increase your outlay. Excess power can be stored in batteries until required.
It is always a good idea to have a backup generator for emergencies to top up your batteries if your renewable options fall short or break down. They are expensive to run for long periods and are not good for the environment so should just be regarded as a last resort.
Ground Source heat Pumps
These are sunk into the ground vertically or horizontally far enough to soak up the heat stored there and use water filled pipes to heat your home. The water is pumped round in a continuous cycle like conventional central heating systems.
Wood burning Stoves
This is another option for heating especially if you have woodland on your property or a supply of reasonably priced fire wood locally. They are easy to install and maintain and provide plenty of heat and even be used for cooking. From an environmental point of view you need to seek advice as to the condition and type of wood that you burn to have a minimum impact.
There are limited options when it comes to providing water, particularly drinking water and it is best to seek specialist advice.
Wells have been used for thousands of years to provide water. You will be dependent on the level of the water table in your chosen location. It can vary immensely and, in some cases, can even be reached with the use of a shovel. More often than not though you will require a professional who may have to drill down as far as one thousand feet to reach suitable water. You will also need to have the water tested to see if it is safe to use so expert advice is really important. This can be an expensive process especially if deep boring is required.
You would need to filter this natural supply and have the water tested to see if it is safe if you want to drink it. It cold be a great option for watering crops.
It is a pretty simple process to gather rain water from your roof to store and use. You will need to filter and purify it for personal use and have it tested before consuming it. Rain water is ideal to use if you are growing your own crops
This is basically a system that treats any water used in your household from dishwashing, sinks, showers, and baths so you can use it in your toilets or for irrigation. This water is no good for drinking, cooking or cleaning.
There are two main options to deal with this.
This is what it sounds like, a tank that is sunk into the ground collecting your waste. As you can imagine, periodically you will require a vacuum truck to empty this tank. You will need to have your septic tank system professionally installed. This will cost several thousand dollars.
This is a far less complicated system but may not be quite so user friendly. However, they are odourless and more within the skills range of an amateur and far cheaper. You will find many good articles online explaining how they function and how to install one.
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought and not deterred you. Take things in small stages and address each item as it arises. The internet is your friend and you will be able to answer many questions and solve problems that occur with some research.