Is going off-grid easy?
For some, the idea of doing without municipal services is a nightmare. For others, it’s the culmination of a long-held dream. Living off the grid means it’s just you and nature existing harmoniously side-by-side. No building codes, no dependency on the power grid, no monthly payment to the trash collection service. If you currently live in a home that depends upon the energy grid, it’s not just a matter of snipping the wires. It requires resourcefulness and the ability to adapt to an unfamiliar way of life.
If you are going to go off grid then consider your food and health freedom – It is essential that you choose your locale wisely; find a local government that is supportive of food freedom, or encourage your current government to declare food sovereignty. With the massive increase in health raids, farm raids, and EPA regulations that are strangulating independent food production, the first concern should be where will you be most left alone to pursue your inherent right to pursue health and happiness.
After you have identified your location, then learn the best methods for off-the-grid food production, such as permaculture and aquaponics. Lastly, there are clear mental health benefits to being in good physical condition, as well as learning the skills that will lead you to an independent lifestyle. A mentally healthy individual has positive attributes that include:
The ability to deal successfully with the common stresses of everyday life.
The ability to recognize and use your native talents and skills.
And the ability to contribute to society through your work or your volunteer activities.
What you need to consider when going off grid:
1. The Right Mindset
A spirit of independence and a commitment to a sustainable lifestyle is required to make a successful go of off-grid living. You won’t escape society entirely; even self-sufficient residents pay property taxes. Living off grid means different things to different people. Some want modern conveniences and large power-generating stations.
Others are happier taking a step back in time and living with rustic forms of heating and food storage. Going off-grid can be an expensive proposition if you try to replace all the modern amenities you now have. If you don’t mind hard work, sacrifice and jack rabbits as your nearest neighbors, an off-gird lifestyle might be in your future.
One of the most important items to find when preparing to go off grid is land with running water on it. Everything else can be brought in but water is essential, one must have a good water source. Ideally, it would be nice if you also had a well on the land. Not only do you need water for drinking but you also must have it to irrigate plants, support animals and if you have a decent running stream of water you can have all the electricity you want for FREE! However, even if you can’t find a tract of land that has a stream or creek on it you can still set up a water catchment system so don’t despair if you can’t find water on the land…it’s still in the sky!
A site with a reliable water supply is essential to off-grid living, and buyers can stipulate finding potable water on the property as a contingency of their land-buying contract. A drilled water well is standard and requires the use of a pump and a large collection tank for water storage. Wells used for drinking water should be regularly tested and treated, if necessary, to ensure water safety.
Rain barrels can supplement supply, especially for gardening needs, or depending on your location’s annual rainfall, provide most or all of the water for household needs. Collecting water from a nearby stream sounds simple, but the risk of contamination from animal feces, bacteria and other pollutants necessitates the use of water filtration and purification systems, which might require additional solar power units to operate.
3. Power Generation System
With today’s alternate power technology, off-grid residents can generate their own electricity, but power systems can be expensive and they require the use of large batteries for energy storage. A sustainable power source depends upon the geography of the lot. High trees can block the wind, making a wind turbine unsuitable, and southern exposure is necessary to power a solar system.
To use hydro-power, the lot must have an all-season river or creek. On a calm or cloudy day, wind and solar systems won’t produce energy. Running the refrigerator, water heater and stove on propane, and using wood to produce heat, will conserve electricity. It’s also a good idea to invest in a backup generator. Through 2016 and maybe longer, taxpayers can receive an energy credit when filing their income taxes for installing some types of renewable energy systems.
4. The Right Site
The best spot for an off-grid home is in a remote region where building codes don’t apply. This doesn’t mean you have to buy an isolated lot at the top of a rugged mountain. Look for sparsely populated counties in regions where you like the climate and scenery. A quick call to the county building authority will determine whether restrictive codes and covenants exist. You need legal access as well. During the purchase of the land, make sure you will always have a legal right to use any existing roads, paths or waterways to reach your land.
5. Waste Disposal System
Even in areas without building codes, you’ll probably run into sewage regulations. Indiscriminately disposing of waste isn’t healthy for anyone and most local health departments, in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency, require safe waste disposal. Allowable off-grid options include septic tanks with buried leach fields and open-air lagoon pits. Composting toilets are acceptable in many regions. Personal septic systems require ongoing maintenance and inspections to keep them functioning correctly.
6. Be Able to Appreciate Nature
I don’t know if this is an actual requirement, but it sure seems to be a common thread in off-gridders. Is it because we are so dependent on the forces of nature that we learn to appreciate her?
Wind, clouds, storms, fog and freezes become very relevant. You will become a keen observer of the quality of sunlight, wind speed and direction. You’ll take more than a passing interest in weather forecasts. As people have done for thousands of years, you’ll adjust your lifestyle to the weather. And you’ll grow to appreciate events that have nothing to do with energy…a beautiful sunrise, the power in a thunderstorm, a full moon, the fury of a north wind.
It’s no exaggeration to hear me describe my home as a living thing. I maintain and nurture its systems. In return, it keeps me safe and comfortable. Living off-grid can be a wonderful, life changing event.
By Cabal Martin, CS Globe;