Living Off the Grid and Self-Sufficient
May 9, 2013
In this technologically saturated age, living off the grid can be difficult, impractical, or just idealistic. But millions of Americans are waking up and realizing that our economy is not getting better but slowly headed downhill on a bumpy road to collapse. The ability to cut out utility companies and thrive on sustainable means without sacrificing modern conveniences is looking more appealing every day. Dependence on services and supplies from corporations is our greatest vulnerability when our economy collapses.
More and more people are establishing homes off-grid for a verity of reasons but insulating yourself from the economy of the world is probably the most important.
How to Get Off the Grid
The first thing you need to do is educate yourself on how to supply your needs for maintaining life. There is a wealth of information available both on the internet and in libraries. Although living sustainably is very economical, getting to that place is not easy nor free. The areas that you will want to research and prepare for are land, water, food, food storage, cooking and heating, laundry, and electricity.
Where to Live
In the country is the best place to be to give yourself the most amount of freedom and security. If that is not an option for you at this point in your life, you can still live off-grid where you are if you have a large enough back yard.
You will need water for drinking, bathing and toilets, cleaning and laundry, cooking, and a garden. The three sources of water are springs, wells, and rainwater. If you are using rainwater for drinking, you will need a good water filter like a Berkey system.
Food and Food Storage
A vegetarian or vegan diet is the most sustainable and easy to provide for especially if you have only a small property. You will want to learn how to grow your own food and how to store it over the winter. You will want to get open pollinated seeds that will produce re-plantable seeds. You will want to learn the methods of seed saving so you don't have to rely on big seed corporations for seed each year. Until you are able to produce all the food you need, you will want to supplement with bulk dry foods that you can store and also have a backup food storage supply for those poor years when your garden does not produce much.
Cooking and Heating
The best way of cooking off-grid is to use a wood cookstove. If you have some land on which to grow and harvest your own trees, it is the most sustainable way to live. A wood cookstove can heat your home, heat your hot water, and cook your meals. You can also get a propane range but they require buying propane for them which may be a problem if the economy collapses.
Laundry is where the old fashioned way of doing things is on the list of last resort methods. I recommend using a normal electric washing machine. There are some things that electricity just does way better. That said, I would recommend having a wash tub and washboard available if something happens to your source of electricity or washing machine.
There are three main options for generating electricity for off-grid use: solar, wind, and hydro. The cost of installing solar panels on your home depends on your home's size and how much sun your home gets. In general, transforming a single family house to solar power usually costs $8,100 to $8,800 for 135 kWh and 200 kWh a month respectively. That includes solar panels, inverter and battery charger, and a battery bank.
Another option is wind generators if you live in a place where there is consistent wind. They can cost about $3,000 for a 1.5 kW system.
Micro hydro systems are a great source of power if you have a stream on your property that drops in elevation at least 10 ft. They produce power night and day as long as the stream does not dry up in the summer. They cost about $4,000 to $5,000 for a system.
Living off-grid can be an exciting adventure usually with a lot of learning involved. But the freedom that it affords is indispensable. I recommend moving slowly and buying the equipment as you can afford it. Like it or not, our world is becoming more and more unstable. Being prepared now is the best way protect yourself from suffering like those who live in the cities and are not prepared will.