by Catalogs.com Info Guru Angela K. Van Winkle
Living off the grid is not an endeavor to be taken lightly or jumped into without serious planning.
In order to truly unplug from the existing “grid” of power and water provided by your state’s utility companies, you will have to find, create, and/or adapt alternative sources to power your self-sustaining world. But, with a few simple tricks and tools, you can be well on your way to living the free, sustainable life you always dreamed of.
10. Reduce Energy Consumption
Before embarking on a whole new life, get into good habits in your existing one. Start reducing that carbon footprint by installing LED lights, putting electronics on power strips (and remember to switch them off when not in use), and learning all the little ways you can save energy in your existing home, to apply to your new off-grid life.
9. Save Your Pennies
Like any new pursuit, you’re going to need some start-up capital to get your dream off the ground. Start saving now and give yourself a jump-date to shoot for.
8. Location, Location, Location
There are three primary considerations when looking for a location for your new self-sustaining home: sun, wind, and water. When using alternative energy sources, you will be relying on these three natural elements to fuel your life, so make sure your new site has plenty of each.
7. Build for Less Consumption
You want a home which is structurally sound and as energy efficient as possible. Look into different green construction and natural building methods like passive solar, earth sheltered (or “bermed”), or rammed-earth, to name a few.
6. Go Solar
Okay. Energy. You’re going to need to generate your own electricity (which, of course, is the whole point). One of the most obvious options is to install solar panels on and around your home. What used to be prohibitively expensive has come down dramatically in cost over the years. Don’t discount this method as pie-in-the-sky yet. You may be able to afford more than you think.
5. Dowsing for Water
Many folks who go off the grid opt (or simply have to because of their chosen locale) to also source their own water. Depending on what you have available on your land, you may need to dig a well, or you may be blessed with a river or natural spring nearby. Whatever your source, you will need to install a water filtration system in your home. It’s all fun and games until somebody contracts dysentery.
4. Plan for Waste Disposal
Basic fact of life: everybody poops. And if you’re not connecting to city waste services, you’ll need to figure out where your household’s waste is going to go in a clean, ecologically responsible manner. Many people go with the old rural standby, a septic tank. But if you want to go really green, you might consider a composting toilet which turns human waste into safe, useable compost.
3. Wind Power
Wind power is the other darling of the alternative energy world. Growing fast across the globe, wind energy is as renewable and free as solar. Some opt to install a wind turbine and solar panels, which gives you the best of both worlds, even on a cloudy day.
2. Creature Comforts
Heating and cooling is another consideration you don’t want to take for granted. We aren’t roughing it here, folks; this is your home. While your home’s construction may take care of most of this, you will most likely still need a fireplace or radiant heat for the coldest of days, perhaps a swamp cooler for summer, and a tankless water heater (much more efficient than the big tank kind) for hot showers and such. You want to like being home, after all.
1. Find a Community
What if you’ve done all the research and, while your heart is in the right place, you know you just aren’t up for blazing your own trail from the ground up? Then an ecovillage may be the right choice for you. These are intentional communities created for the express purpose of living as sustainably as humanly possible. They’ve done all the groundwork for you; all you have to do is be a productive member and abide by the rules of the community. Sometimes it’s better when we all work together.