What is being off the grid? Basically it’s living without using the services of utility companies. Naturally there are different levels of commitment to getting off the grid—everything from getting rid of a couple energy-guzzling appliances to creating your own Walden Pond existence.
But if you’re at all interested in detaching from the grid even a little bit, here are the main areas where you might consider some changes:
- Electricity—This is the big one. If you want to be off the grid in any sense of the definition, you’ve got to free yourself from electric bills. And there are lots of options to do it: solar power, batteries, wind power, a backup generator, etc.
- Water—The availability of alternative water sources depends largely on where you live, but probably the most popular green water sources are wells, drip systems, and rain catching systems.
- Gas—The main appliances that use gas in your house are your stove/oven, heater, hot water heater, and the dryer. Some options for offsetting these appliances are a wood stove, a hot water heater that runs on alternative electricity power (like the options above), propane-powered stoves and ovens, and good old fashioned air drying for clean clothes.
- Sewage—Septic tanks are an obvious choice for getting off the main sewage system, but there are other secondary treatment options like gray water recycling, sand filters, and worm farm systems. Gross, I know, but it’s green.
Now I know that most this stuff sounds too intense for your average homeowner, and it’s true that going off the grid has some very hefty upfront costs to get all the equipment and systems in place. But keep in mind that there are lots of different levels of bidding the grid goodbye. Even if you only went off the grid for your electricity, there are a lot of benefits that go with it:
- Reliability—Utilities aren’t always reliable, and something as simple as frozen pipes or power outages can suddenly muck up the whole system. With your own sustainable system, you can stay functioning and not worry about what the utilities are up to. Basically it’s a stronger guarantee that you will always be up and running.
- Independence—There’s a lot to be said for being self-sufficient and investing your money into your own energy system instead of paying a company for utilities. Just something to consider.
- A greener way—It probably goes without saying that going off the grid is a huge help to the environment. Utility companies produce carbon dioxide by obtaining their natural resources, but your off-the-grid choices almost all involve completely sustainable or mostly sustainable options. Reducing your own carbon footprint is just one way of being responsible.