Check out our guide to living “off the grid”. We’ve got some top tips on how you can live from the land and achieve complete independence.
Human beings are causing a lot of harm to the environment every single day; this cannot be refuted anymore. At no other time in history has the environment been as affected as it is right now due to decisions being made every day by average people all over the world. There are over 7 billion people on Earth who eat, drink, sleep, and entertain themselves every single day.
For those of us in North America, it is known that especially in the United States we are using more electricity and power than a lot of other countries. We are known for creating a large carbon footprint and the decisions we are making today are directly having an effect on the world as a whole. What can we do about it? How can you make a difference on the environment around the world?
There has been a trend in the past decade of people “living off the grid.” There are actually more than 100,000 homes in the United States that live off the grid, and even over 25,000 homes that are fully powered by renewable-energy resources across the country. So how does it all work? How can you live off the grid? And more importantly, how can we eventually go back to our roots and live off the land in a healthy way? We hope to answer these questions and more in this guide on how to live off grid.
Living Off the Grid
We have all been there: We wake up, go to the mailbox and every single month find a bill for the electricity we used this month. This is what we call “living on the grid.” The term “grid” comes from the power grid that most homes are connected to. This grid is what provides us power, what provides us water, and what provides us gas to live in comfort in our homes. Utility bills can be frustrating things, because if your family uses a lot, it can be like paying added rent every month. But what if there were a way to power your home without the help of these huge utility companies? What if you could do it all yourself, with energy that is not harmful to the environment? This is what many people are starting to wonder, and the joys of living off the grid are becoming very appealing to many people.
So almost every household, as we mentioned before, is connected to the power grid that delivers all the necessary things to run a home. Some people decide to partially go off the grid, by having a few solar panels for an area of the house, or even cutting off their phone line. However, others want to live completely off grid to reduce their overall carbon footprint and see how much they can give back to society.
Living off the grid is easier said than done, and we have noticed there have been many people who have been all talk. Typically, when the going gets tough, people want to rely on the convenience of living on the grid. Look around you right now, and see how much you are on the grid. Do you have a toilet? Do you have lights in your home that turn on from a switch? Is the computer you are reading this on hooked up to an outlet? Imagine your life without any of these things. Yes, it definitely can be difficult! We are going to examine two ways of living off the grid; one way you can do it with money, and the other way you can do it if you have no money. No matter what, there is going to be an option for you on this list.
How to Live Off the Grid
If you have some money to spend and want to actually live off grid, it is not the most difficult thing at first. It is actually easier to do it with money than without money, but we will get to that later. The first thing you are going to want to do is find a way to provide power for your entire home. The best way to do that is to redo your entire house with solar panels. This is one of the best inventions you can place on your house, making it entirely powered by the strongest natural resource: the sun. There are multiple solar power installation companies around the country that you can directly contact to see their rates and how it is going to work the best for you. The reason you need money to do this however, is because the average refinishing of an averaged-sized house filled with solar panels is roughly over $45,000, which can be a hefty cost for someone with little to no money.
However, a smaller solar set-up can be much more affordable. An off the grid solar set up to power the essentials, costs just a fraction of a huge grid-tied system. Check out our guide to solar panel kits to find out how easy they are to buy and set up.
Next, if you want to live off grid and have some money, we recommend that you have some sort of backup power supply installed in the house. Solar panels are fantastic, but only for days with sun. You still want your house to work on days when it is cloudy outside. Believe us when we say this as it can be quite a nuisance. If your house is located near a body of water, such as a creek, you can find a hydropower turbine that uses the energy of the rushing water to power your home. If you do not have any water nearby, we recommend a wind turbine installed near your home. This is going to provide you with renewable energy that you can use as a backup system. Again, this is also a financial investment, and you can see that the average wind turbine is usually around $12,000, while a hydropower turbine can range from around $6,000 to over $50,000. When you add the solar panel price to this, you are looking at quite the hefty sum.
Now, for the water aspect. If you want to live off the grid, you aren’t going to be using your taps; it is going to be time to drill a well and get water the natural way. You can get a well drilled for just over $6,000, but that can rise depending on your climate and your location.
As well, you are going to want to think about waste, as you will not be using your proper toilet and the sewer system. You will need a septic tank installed, which costs around $5,000, and you will also have to get it emptied once and a while from a vacuum truck that will also cost money.
You will also want to have a greywater system in place to collect water that has not been treated. This is common with many wells, and it will allow you to use this untreated water for things like flushing the toilets, watering plants and the lawn, and maybe even washing dishes. This is going to extend the lifespan of the well that you buy, and you can use the water right away that has been pumped to the surface. This, obviously is another additional cost as well.
This all sounds like a lot of work, and there’s actually a much easier solution that is better for the environment. The best toilet solution is to get a composting toilet. These don’t require any septic tanks or drainage. They don’t actually use any water and they create organic compost that you can use in the garden.
As you can see, with a lot of money you can easily live off the grid by making these adjustments, and you won’t really notice that much of a difference in your day to day living style. You can be happy knowing that you have decreased your carbon footprint and you never have to see another electric or water bill again. If you live off renewable energy, you are guaranteed to save some money over time from bills.
How to Live Off the Grid with No Money
Now for the majority of you reading this, you probably saw all of those big numbers in the previous section and thought “That’s definitely not for me” because we do not want to invest a lot of money in going off the grid. It can look cheaper at first to live off the grid, and if you have the money, it IS! However, it is still possible to live off the grid with no money—so how do you do that?
Rather than completely disconnecting from the public grid and the utilities, living off the grid with no money is more of a lifestyle change than a home change. Changing your lifestyle does not cost anything at all and you can slowly go off the grid without spending any money.
The first thing you can do by yourself is simply reduce the waste that you throw out every day. You can monitor the amount of food and energy you are using every day. If you cannot afford to have solar panels, then keep all the lights off in your home and use candles to illuminate the room you are in. Unplug all the appliances you are not using and get rid of huge ones that eat a lot of your electricity. Get rid of all the non-essentials such as a massive TV that sucks a lot of the power. Keep all of your showers short, and never use excess water to water your entire lawn. Try and use all of the food that you buy for additional meals. For example, if you cook a chicken, keep the bones to boil down and turn into chicken broth for a soup. Use every single thing you have in your fridge and kitchen before going grocery shopping again.
The best thing you can do to live off the grid with no money is to simply do your research. Talk with people who already live off the grid or find free workshops around you that you can partake in and also ask questions. Read every article you can online about living off the grid so you can know what is going to work the best for you. The best thing you can do is to grow a garden and see what that does for you.
How to Live Off the Land
Speaking of growing a garden, how are you going to live off the grid and still eat great food? Obviously, if you have the money, the solar panels can still provide power to an oven so it will be no problem at all! However, living off the land can be incredible and also a lot healthier for you. But how can you live off the land, and furthermore, how can you live off the land with no money?
To live off the land, we first recommend that you start with a garden. A garden is a lot easier to start with than animals, and you can maintain it yourself. Go to your local store with gardening tools and talk to a professional about the steps you can take to live off the land. See what it is like to grow a few plants. Plants can be inexpensive and you can live off the land with no money.
Moving towards animals is a much more difficult thing, and you will need to check your city or county’s ordinances to see what is allowed and what is prohibited. Raising chickens or sheep in suburbia is not likely to be permitted. We are not going to touch too much on how to go about slaughtering animal to eat, as we recommend you do your own research on the matter.
At the end of the day, whether you have the money or not, you can live off the grid and also off the land. The biggest piece of advice we can give you is to go slowly; do not dive in head first and go cold turkey as this will be incredibly difficult for you. Instead, take your time and start by shutting lights off. Then, plant one food source and so on, and so on.
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