There are numerous disadvantages to having your life tied to the grid. Firstly, it means that you have to adhere to all the set rules created by whoever is in charge of the grid. The people in charge of the grid are not really concerned about taking care of the environment. Thus, by living on the grid, you are contributing to the slow death of the Earth.
Living off the grid means that you are insulated when disaster strikes. For instance, if war breaks out, your survival will not depend on the ability of those in charge to keep things running. The grid is derived from the ‘electric grid.’ However, it refers to various utilities such as food, water, and other amenities you need to survive.
Understanding What Living Off the Grid Will Mean Personally and Legally
Recently, there has been a lot of misleading information spreading, claiming that living off the grid is illegal. However, these articles are not wholly wrong. Government regulation has made it more difficult for people to live off the grid. After all, the government would lose the most if everyone suddenly went off the grid.
In some places in America, regulation has made it illegal to collect huge quantities of water or to have solar power, which is not tied to the grid. In some places, you may even be prevented from living in a travel trailer or to camp on your land. In other places, they have created regulation that makes it hard for you to build an off-grid home. It is done by creating strict building codes.
Additionally, the banks are not very willing to lend on off-grid homes. Thus, it would seem that off-grid living is becoming quite difficult in America.
Differentiating Off-Grid Living From Self-Sufficiency
Some people tend to intertwine these two terms. However, being self-sufficient does not always mean living off the grid. Living free of public utilities does not always make you self-sufficient.
By being self-sufficient, it means that you do not rely on others for food, power, defense, shelter, and many others. However, getting off the grid is a first step to being self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is a long and complex journey that will require a lot of commitment to the course.
Getting an Off-the-Grid Source of Electricity
If you are going to be living off the grid, you will probably need some electricity. Some of the best methods for getting power off the grid are solar power and wind turbines. The choice of electricity source that you use will depend on your locality.
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In some places, it could make a lot of sense for you to use solar power because you receive plenty of sunshine. In other places, it would make more sense for you to use wind energy, especially if you live on a slope that receives high amounts of wind. In some places, it would make more sense to use both solar and wind.
However, in all cases, you will need some kind of storage component for off the grid electricity. Wind and solar are intermittent sources of electricity. It means that they only work when there is wind or the sunshine respectively. Ensure that you choose a storage battery that has a long life and a huge capacity. Besides that, you will have to combine it with other technologies such as cloth lines and LEDs. They use less electricity, which allows you to conserve the limited power produced by solar and wind sources.
Use Micro Hydro for Off-Grid Power
If you are going to live off the grid, micro hydropower is probably your best bet. This type of electricity source only requires a source of running water and some elevation. The force of gravity will do the rest. The water will move to the bottom from the top, and the momentum will be used to turn the turbines.
The good thing about micro hydropower is that it is constant. Unless the river dries up, you will always have power in your home. It is thus important that you choose the source of you micro hydropower carefully. You should ensure that it does not dry up seasonally.
Otherwise, you will need to have an alternative for when it does dry up. If you do not have a stream running through your land, micro-hydro is not a viable option.
Be Prepared to Look for Your Food
One of the most time and resource consuming activities of living off the grid will be trying to find your own food. For instance, you will need to learn how to track wildlife for protein and how to grow food sustainably.
Creating food systems is not easy. Depending on how big your family is, it could take you up to ten years to get the system implemented. It is important that you plan for every aspect of your food production system without being in a rush.
Once you are done implementing the system, you will now need to focus on harvesting and storage. After you have managed to implement a system, you can expect to spend a significant amount of your time maintaining your system. You should also be prepared to do quite a lot of studying. You will have to read various books written by experts on how to create a sustainable food system.
You Will Need to Find Water
If you are living off the grid, you can do without most things, but water is not one of them. You will require water for keeping clean, cooking, and drinking. Otherwise, your attempt to live off the grid will fail.
One of the most common methods used is to drill for water.
However, that may not be possible in some areas because of fracking. You will be forced to use other methods to access your water. To pump the water from the ground, you can use wind or an electric pump.
If you have wind power, it is the best option since it consumes the least amount of energy. One way of getting an alternative source of water is by using rainwater collection. If you live in an area that receives good rainfall, ensure that you collect every drop you can. However, you will need to install a system to treat the water. That way you avoid drinking water that has been contaminated by bird droppings.
You will also need to have a major storage tank. The water level sometimes gets too low for you well during the dry months. Have a storage vessel that can hold at least 1000 gallons of water. If your water pumping equipment fails, you will still have a source of water before you can do repairs. Set the water collection tank in such a way that it collects water and delivers it to you by gravity.
Reduce Water Usage
Besides having enough water, you will need to reduce your usage. In America, everyone uses about 100 gallons of water daily per person. In comparison, people in Africa use about 5 gallons daily per person. That is clearly and an indication that you may need to make a few adjustments to how you live.
You will need to purchase appliances that are water-efficient such as dishwashers and laundry machines. That way, you will reduce the risk of running out of the water while living off the grid.
Building Your Off-Grid Home
If you are going to live off the grid, you will want to come up with a house that is not hooked up to the grid.
Additionally, you do not want to use conventional materials to come up with a house since that would go against your desire to be independent of the grid.
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Why It is Important to Use Natural Materials
Cement production is one of the most environmentally polluting activities on earth. Besides that, it requires huge amounts of energy to produce just one bag of cement. The waste produced by cement factories is also not recycled. If you use natural materials, you will be reducing the impact you have on the off-grinch one of the reasons for off-grid living.
Some of the most common materials used in off-grid living are straw bales, sawdust, wood chips, sticks, and earthy materials. The most common earthy materials used are earthbags, adobe, rammed earth, cob, sand, stones, and rock. Other materials often used for off-grid house construction are coconut, sisal, cork, and bamboo. These are all fast-growing plants that can be renewed with ease.
The best way to determine what material you will use is by looking at your area. If you find that there is sand, clay, rocks, or lime, that may be what you should use. The main reason for using materials in your environment is that you will not have to transport them over long distances. The energy used to transport materials over a long distance usually contributes to environmental pollution.
Consider Using Trash
Most people are familiar with the use of old tires, used bottles, and even soda cans for home construction. Constructing a house with tires usually entails packing tires full of cement or earth and stacking them on top of each other.
However, a less common but effective source of construction material is debris from construction sites. If you know of an old structure that is being brought down, you can opt to acquire the existing materials to construct your house.
For instance, old doors, the roof tiles, and the kitchen countertops may be re-used for your project. Many companies out there buy debris from demolition sites and use it to construct new homes. Consider using one of these companies to construct your off-grid home.
Always think About Size
The average size of homes in America today is double what it was about 50 years ago. A big home uses a lot of energy and resources to construct. If you are living off the grid, you do not want a structure that will cost you a lot just to live in.
Consider coming up with a home that only has as much space as you need. You may also opt to purchase a modular home that comes with everything you need.
You will require a waste disposal system if you plan to live off the grid. If you have already installed a septic system, you are already living off-grid. That means that your waste does not go to the waste treatment plant. However, if you do not have a septic system, it is still possible to live off-grid.
You home will generate two kinds of wastewater when you live off the grid. The first is black water and the other is gray water. The gray water does not have to be wasted. It can be used to flush the toilet or for purposes of watering the garden. By using it in this manner, you will have reduced your water usage footprint a great deal.
You now have the black water to deal with. This water results from the attempt to get rid of human waste from the home. The best way to get rid of this water is to use a composting toilet. The system captures it and puts it in the same compost bin as kitchen waste, grass cuttings, and kitchen scraps. Consequently, the wastewater is converted into fertilizer for use in your garden.
While living off the grid is a huge effort, it can be done. An average person with basic knowledge on home construction and mechanics can turn this into a reality.
If you are going to go off-grid, you will also need to think about efficiency. Otherwise, you may have to expend excessive amounts of energy just to survive.
If you are efficient, it also means that you will not need to use as much money. It is a great way of making your dream of one day being wholly self-sufficient a reality. Many people are already doing it and you can too if you are committed enough.
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