ACA’s Guide to Going off the Grid
In a society full of energy woes and a cost-of-living crisis, going completely off the grid continues to become a more viable option for the average person. Creating a sustainable and self-sufficient life for yourself could be the answer you seek.
Escaping the hustle and bustle of modern society, living off the grid entails disconnecting from municipal utilities and relying on sustainable, alternative sources for energy, water, and other necessities. Proper preparation is key to ensuring a smooth transition if you’re considering this lifestyle change.
In this article, we’ll give you a quick overview of living off the grid.
When we say ‘Off the Grid’ we mean your home subsides without connection to traditional utilities. Off the Grid homes must create their own source of electricity, water, and gas, and set up their own drainage system. These homes stand independently but usually go without modern luxuries such as phone lines or dedicated internet services.
Going completely off the grid brings both its advantages and disadvantages. Integrating your home into a natural environment will bring a lower carbon footprint and more aesthetic surroundings. In terms of saving money, going off-grid could be the long-term solution to your energy concerns. Adjusting to life away from the crowd could prove a long and strenuous challenge, with an increased responsibility resting on your shoulders.
IS AN OFF-GRID HOME SELF-SUFFICIENT?
Answering the question of self-sufficiency hinges on the context. From an energy standpoint, we would need to produce as much energy as we consume. We need energy in two forms, heat, and power (electricity) and it is useful to think of these separately. Using electricity for heat is possible but can prove an expensive resource, even when we are producing our own. Fuel for heat energy tends to be far cheaper – mains gas is around 5.4p/kWh while mains electricity will be over 15p/kWh.
From a financial standpoint, is the home making enough from government incentives and sales to the grid to pay for what we buy from the grid? Energy efficiency and proper planning can ensure your off-grid home isn’t burning a hole in your pocket. These options may take time to properly deploy but are entirely possible.
PREPARING TO GO OFF-GRID
Finding the Right Plot
Choose a location that aligns with the lifestyle you are planning to implement. Consider factors such as climate, fresh water supply, weather, and access to renewable energy sources. Make sure to assess the land for its suitability for sustainable practices, like gardening or energy generation.
Take the time to visit the area and get a feel for the location, whilst looking for any accessible commuter links to shops, restaurants, and pubs. Seek advice from an expert to make sure you find a suitable plot of land. We at AC Architects are always on hand to provide advice for our clients on picking the right plot.
Websites such as PlotSearch from BuildStore are great tools for finding build plots in the UK, with guaranteed planning permission.
Invest in Renewable Energy
Off-grid living involves generating your own power. Renewable energy commonly comes in two forms. Solar power or wind turbines. Invest in either, or utilise both to harness renewable energy. A well-designed energy system, along with energy-efficient appliances and practices, can ensure a reliable and sustainable power supply.
The average price of a solar panel system is £7000, but a functional solar-powered system will save the homeowner hundreds per year when compared to energy from the grid. Calculate how much energy you will need and assess whether your chosen area gets enough sunlight.
Once your solar grid is up and running, look at opportunities like the Smart Export Guarantee Scheme (SEG), to gain money from exporting your surplus electricity back to the grid.
The cost of a wind turbine can vary dramatically, ranging from under £1000, to over £70,000. Costs for maintenance and insurance also factor in. Despite the high initial cost, wind turbines are well-suited for the British climate.
Prioritise Water Conservation
Conserving water can save you energy. Energy is needed to filter, heat and pump water to your home so creating your own supply can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. Implement water harvesting methods such as a rainwater collection system.
Prioritise water conservation through low-flow fixtures, water-efficient appliances, and responsible water usage habits. Also, consider natural filtration methods for on-site water sources to ensure a clean and sustainable water supply.
Develop your skillset
Acquire skills that promote self-sufficiency. Learn about basic carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, and gardening. These skills not only empower you to maintain your off-grid infrastructure but also contribute to a sense of independence and resourcefulness.
Use online resources, such as YouTube, to learn and implement new techniques to maintain your new home.
Prepare for Emergencies
Living off-grid often means being more resilient in the face of unexpected challenges. Develop emergency plans for power outages, water shortages, or other unforeseen events. Keep essential supplies on hand and cultivate a mindset of adaptability and self-reliance.
DOWNSIDES OF GOING OFF-GRID
The one factor that turns people away from off-grid living is cost. Establishing an off-grid system, including installing solar panels, wind turbines, water harvesting systems, and other infrastructure, can involve significant upfront costs. While there may be long-term savings, the initial investment is a tall hurdle for the average homeowner.
Your off-grid lifestyle comes with increased responsibilities. Your utilities will require constant maintenance. Your energy sources could be dependent on the weather. These responsibilities can sometimes prove too much to bear for some.
The off-grid lifestyle will bring several changes to your social circle and your day-to-day activities. Ask yourself, are you prepared to cut yourself off?
DOWNSIDES OF GOING OFF-GRID
The journey of living off the grid is long, perilous, and initially quite expensive. It requires careful consideration, dedication, and belief. By embracing renewable energy, responsible resource management, and learning new skills, you can create a lifestyle that not only reduces environmental impact but also fosters a deeper connection to the natural world.
Discovering a sense of independence and seeking solace away from the bustling crowd can be fuelled by various reasons. When you find the right balance, the potential benefits of embracing this lifestyle become apparent, allowing you to enjoy the fulfilling rewards of a more straightforward way of living.