How To Live Off The Grid: Beginners Guide to Self Sufficient Living
How many of you have ever thought about just disappearing? Packing up all that you own and going off to live in a cabin in the woods or in the country. Sounds nice right? Escaping from the business and stress of on grid living. You’re not alone. People from all over and for many different reasons have learned how to live off the grid. Whether it be for ecological reasons for you are just fed up with society, living off the grid is possible and not as difficult as many might think.
How to Live Off The Grid
So, what exactly does it mean to live off the grid? Off the grid is a system and lifestyle designed to help people function without the support of remote infrastructure, such as an electrical grid. So the grid of power that sustains most cities and towns. That is what you would be trying to escape. There is a sense of liberation when you actually accomplish that. It is like that feeling when you go camping. No, not the bug bites. That freedom when you are away from society, no electricity, no one around for miles. You are immersed in nature and nothing can touch you.
No, living off the grid is not just for those conspiracy theorists who think that the government is watching their every move. But they do have one thing right. The government runs our electric which basically rules our lives. Living off the grid is getting away from that. But it is much more than that. Learning how to live off the grid does not mean you have to let go of electricity all together. However, it does mean a dramatic decrease in the amount of electricity you use.
There is a lot of things that come with living off the grid. After all, you will have to disconnect from all of your services your city supplies. It also usually entails moving far away from regular society. But this also means, no electric bills, no water, sewage, or telephone bills, no government or other organizations trying to take your money away. Learning how to live off the grid will also greatly decrease your carbon footprint. This is a big reason many people make this choice. You carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide emissions you produce by using electricity, driving cars, and many other activities.
How To Live Off The Grid
Now of course, you can not just get up one day, disconnect everything and leave to go live off the grid. That is nearly impossible because of the sheer amount of things that are in and around our lives. Even if you do not realize it. If you are considering making this move, you need to do some research. Read articles (like this one, yay), learn survival skills, read up on renewable energy (also available on this website). You also have to figure out where you are going to live, eat, do to make some money on your own, if you want to go it alone or with a group. But to start off, there are some basic things you will need to do when thinking about how to live off the grid.
First thing is power. Of course, you will need to disconnect from the electric grid that powers basically everything. That part is not hard. The slightly more difficult part comes when trying to figure out how you can generate your own power. Luckily, independant power has become easier with advances in technology. Go figure, better technology to escape technology. However, these advances come in the realm of renewable energy. The installation of solar panels is becoming cheaper all of the time. In fact, there are even reimbursements for the installment of solar panels in homes. Solar panels are also a great way to become much more green with your energy usage.
Wind power is another great choice. People who live off the grid, often pair the two together. This allows you to normally use the power generated from one system and store the power from another. However, both can be expensive for installing. So you will need to save up money before making this move.
With power, comes power consumption. To conserve as much power as possible, you will need to lower the amount of power you use. This will probably be difficult for a lot of people because we are use to using as much as we need, and often more, without a second thought. A good way of using less energy is buying LED bulbs instead of CFLs. You can still have your TV, if you choose, however, going off grid means cutting ties with your cable company as well. This means, no more Game of Thrones! Wait...really?? Why are we even suggesting this? That fact alone is a dealbreaker! Sorry to have wasted your time.
While electricity is a big service that you will be cutting ties with, water and sewage are also going to be gone. However, there are self-sufficient alternatives to those as well. What do you think people did before we had the water company and public sewage system? Chamber pots! Well, you will not have to go that far back. Instead, you can install a septic tank. These are watertight chambers that collect sewage. To empty, you will either need to vacuum it out yourself, or have a truck come by every so often and suck out all the nasty stuff.
As for drinking water, because you kind of need that to survive, you can do a few things to get fresh water. Number one, get a well. You can get a well drilled in a favorable place for about $7,000. Number two, live near a lake or river. Here you can use a pump to collect all of the water you will need. However, you will need to purify it or cleanse it of bacteria and other particles. This can be done by either boiling the water or using a filter. Number three, collect rainwater. Yup, you can do that. However with this option, you will still need to purify it.
Lastly, since a lot of clean water is often wasted through many activities, installing a greywater system can help with that a lot. Water is precious, especially when living away from the city water system. A greywater system collects the water used during dishwashing, sinks, showers and baths, and retreats it so you can use it again. The water recycled can be used in your toilet or in irrigation.
Of course, choosing to live off the grid will involve a lot of lifestyle changes. Besides the change in services, your personal routine will have to change as well. This is because you will need to conserve as much energy and water as possible. However, doing this can be fairly simple. Keep your showers short, do not waste water, unplug appliances when they are not in use, limit using your lights. These are not just necessary for learning how to live off the grid, but also when you are on the grid. Starting these habits can greatly decrease your expenses.
In addition, you will need to decide how you will want to communicate with the outside world. That is, if you want to at all. Of course, you can keep your tv without cable and get the basic free channels, but wifi and cell phones belong to the grid. An easy choice, in case of emergencies, is a burner phone. One of those cell phones that you can just load up with however many minutes you want. This would be a good idea if you have family or friends on the outside that may need to reach you for an emergency. Another good idea is a radio, to keep a connection to the outside world if you like. The limit of your media is completely up to you.
Since you will be living away from normal society, getting food for yourself will be essential with learning how to live off the grid. Easiest thing to do to be self-sufficient is make a garden. You will find that many vegetables, fruits and herbs are relatively easy to grow on your own. Also, many vegetables and fruits bear seeds within themselves. Learning how to preserve these seeds and replant them will give you an endless supply for all of your needs. Also, building a greenhouse is a great way to ensure that you will be able to grow food even during the winter season.
Of course, unless you are vegetarian (which is recommended as it makes things much easier) you will need to learn how to hunt and fish for meat. In addition, you will also need to learn how to prepare anything you kill or catch. Skinning, gutting and curing are skills needed to live on your own.
There are also many things that grow naturally in the wild that can prove useful for you. Berries and herbs can be used in the kitchen as well as for medicinal purposes. Many wild herbs can be useful for wounds or other ailments. Just be sure you are using the right herb. You do not want to make poison ivy tea.
People Living Off the Grid
Learning how to live off the grid is not a new concept. People have been doing this for years. Whether it be in communities or on their own. It is impossible to get a completely accurate number of how many people in the U.S. Purely because of the nature of how they are living. They basically do not exist and tracking them down can be difficult. In 2006, Home Power Magazine had an estimate that more than 180,000 homes were supplying their own power. Many people who go off grid, turn to renewable energy to generate electricity. Solar power and wind power are very popular among them because both can be perfect for single home use.
When trying to figure out how to live off the grid, finding a place to live will be a huge choice. You can of course buy a house in the middle of nowhere, like a cabin or something. Or you can build your own house on your own land.
There are also many communities who are devoted to self-sufficient living and staying off the grid. These communities are spread out all over the world. Some are made up of very few people, others have many in their fold.
In western Canada, just a short boat ride away from Vancouver is the island of Lasqueti. It is an island the size of Manhattan, which is home to about 400 people who have decided to live completely off the grid. Their electricity comes completely from renewable energy, mainly solar panels with the help of wind turbines and small scale hydroelectric plants. Some of the households on the island do not use electricity at all.
Many of the homes on the island are self-made. For instance, one member made his home out of a old school bus, which he filsl up with vegetable oil to run. Everything on the island is well organized and the community even has its own website that talks about everything on the island. The members of the island are made up of musicians, authors, small scale manufacturers, and many more. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, Lasqueti Island has the most highly educated community in British Columbia.
Tinker’s Bubble- England
Somerset, England is home to the Tinker’s Bubble community. It sits on 40 acres of rural country and is the oldest, low impact eco village on the island. It has been around for more than 20 years and many have called it their home at one point or another. Most are permanent settlers, but some members are travelers. They make income for the community through many activities including forestry, gardening, chickens, honey bees, and apple products (not the Iphone). Using absolutely no fossil fuels for power, with the exception of burning wood for warmth and cooking, making them a zero-emission community. They generate electricity from wind power generators and solar panels. In addition, every material they use comes from the area. This gives the community the low-cost eco-housing status.
Earthships- United States
Earthships were created by famous architect, Michael Reynolds. He developed the “perfect model” for a house. To him, a home should take care of its owners, not the other way around. All of his dwellings are made out of, at least, 45% recycled materials. The other materials are found in the immediate area. Almost all of the “ships” are independent from all municipal utilities are are able to produce everything for their inhabitants. They even enhance the soil around them using botanical cells. These contain, treat, and reuse sewage through the biological process, which results in greenery all around the house. The house is also able to harness its own electricity and fresh water, along with regulate the temperature inside depending on the weather. Even produce a significant amount of food.