Before you get too excited to off grid, think about a few things. Is this what you really want to do – go off grid?
Going off grid means cutting yourself off from the energy grid, and usually cutting off many other modern conveniences. Do you really want to do that?
How about making a few simple changes now? Can you start raising chickens and rabbits for eggs, meat and fertilizer and are you able to sell the extra yield to your neighbors or at a Farmer’s Market?
Can you start a garden, have a compost pile and raise worms?
What can you do now before you go off grid because here are some very good considerations to going off grid that you will need to ponder and answer before you pull the plug.
What do you know about living off grid? Does it sound like a nice escape from your life or is it something you really want to do? There are many things to consider when you go off grid. You are going back to nature so you must become familiar with raising your own food, tending to your own animals, fixing things yourself around your Homestead, working from dawn to dusk, and probably never taking a vacation.
Here are some ideas that you need to consider.
10 steps to take to go off grid
1. Ask yourself why you want to – There is little practical reason for going off-grid in most parts of the world unless you are in a remote location where it’s forced upon you. It’s going to be a lot more expensive than taking all of the services the grid provides cheaply that you don’t think about. Getting on-demand electricity, as much as you want, when you want it and at the right frequency is much harder when you don’t let the experts at the utilities provide it to you at pretty cheap rates. If you think you are doing this for economic reasons, understand that there are no economically viable reasons for doing this. If you hate your utility, well, consider switching to a different utility. If you are an end-of-civilization survivalist, well, have fun with that. If you are a nerdy hobbyist with extra cash who wants to have a fun hobby for a few years, fill your boots. That last one is the only one that actually makes much sense.
2. Ask yourself how much off the grid you really want to be – Being completely off the grid is actually pretty tough. You have to have at least a couple of overlapping forms of generation, you have to have storage, you have to have a mechanism for ditching excess generated electricity and you have to manage the frequency of the electricity carefully so you don’t fry your appliances. And it’s actually pretty tough for most people to generate sufficient electricity to supply all of their household needs unless they have big properties. Consider the possibility of reducing the amount of electricity you get from the grid but keeping all of those lovely grid ancillary services by having a wire still attached to your house.
3. Conserve locally – Get your electricity and energy consumption down, way down. Insulate the heck out of your home. Triple-pane your windows. Consider which appliances you really don’t need. Consider a high-efficiency wood stove with a catalytic converter so you aren’t polluting the neighborhood too much. Consider how little room you really need to live in. Put LED lights everywhere. Ditch the hairdryer. Learn to wear layers of sweaters indoors in the winter and next to nothing in the summer. Learn to wear layers of sweaters indoors in the winter and next to nothing in the summer.
4. Start with solar – Solar is easy. It’s low maintenance, it’s hard to kill yourself with it (but be careful on the roof if you put it up there), it’s available everywhere. Point it slightly west as well as toward the equator because you probably want as much electricity in the late afternoon as possible. Get net metering going so that you can defray your costs. And electricity is highly fungible, so it’s easy to plug it into your home and use it.
5. Get automation – Really, this stuff doesn’t run itself. It needs to be monitored and controlled. Learn all the stuff, get a good monitoring system with alerts for your phone so you don’t come home to a dead home, etc.
6. Consider solar thermal as well – Lots of energy goes to heating water, but if the sun does it for you for ‘free’ every day, you can dodge a lot of energy bills. Water is fungible too, but getting it into the right plumbing is a little less obvious for most people. Maybe that’s just me though. 😉
7. Consider geothermal heating/cooling – If you’ve got some land, drilling a few holes isn’t that hard. Run water down into the holes and it comes back cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Not bad.
8. Get a Powerwall or three – Storage is probably next. Get those batteries hung up in your garage, linked in series and running smoothly. They’ll be about $5,500 a pop, so make sure you do step 3 first unless you just don’t care about money.
9. Consider how else you can generate electricity – Have a big property with an exposed field? Maybe a wind turbine would do well. A dirt cheap one can be built from spare parts which generates electricity, although you’ll get a lot more juice from a commercial and certified turbine with a lot less sweat equity. Have a stream? Consider a run-of-the-river hydro generator. Have a huge woodlot and don’t mind burning it? Consider a biomass thermal generator.
10. Cut the wire – Spend a few years, tens of thousands of dollars, a lot of brain cells and a bunch of sweat, and you’ll be ready to be off grid.
Once you’re off grid, its time to get busy.
Here are some things to get started on…
Keep bees for honey and sell the extra to friends and neighbors, they need it for their allergies. Make candles and salves. Keep goats for milk and dairy products. Make soap, cheese and sheer the goats for wool. Cashmiri goats are great for this! Let them loose in your yard to keep down the weeds and grass in the spring & summer. Sell the wool raw or spin it into yarn to knit scarves, gloves and sweaters.
Donate, gift or sell the kid’s clothes which are too small but still clean and wearable. Use the others for cleaning rags, or cut the fabric into squares and make a quilt. Make your own all natural cleaning supplies, shampoo, laundry detergent, bath salts and oils, beauty creams, herbal first aid kit and toothpaste.
Open workshops to teach these skills & recruit the kids to help. Teach them entrepreneurship & software development by soliciting delivery orders within a 3 mile radius with a custom app that takes payments. Let them make delivery runs on their bikes and teach them how to interact with people face-to-face in real life:)
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