When you think of living “off the grid” you may picture a secluded cabin in the woods with no electrical conveniences and water from a brook out back. Today, living off the grid is much more civilized than you might image. In fact, you can even live off the grid in a residential neighborhood where all your neighbors are still reliant on it.
What is Living Off the Grid?
Image via Flickr by spanginator
Living off the grid simply means that you’re living without any reliance on the power grid. You can do this even if your home is technically connected to the grid by declining services from your power company. Instead of using traditional sources of electricity, most families living off the grid generate their own power. Thus, living off the grid doesn’t mean giving up electricity. It simply means creating and storing it yourself with sustainable choices such as solar panels or a wind turbine.
The Benefits of Going Off the Grid
Many people choose to live off the grid so they can enjoy a greener lifestyle that leaves a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. Over the long-term, living off of your own green energy may also be less expensive than relying on a traditional power company. You’ll also enjoy the independence of living off your own power. Outages won’t affect you even when the rest of the neighborhood is without power. Using your own sustainable energy is sure to make you more aware of your energy usage and may encourage you to take other energy-saving measures.
The Challenges of Going Off the Grid
Living off the grid is not without its challenges. You’ll be responsible for installing and maintaining all your equipment. Setting up an independent power system is a major investment and the cost savings of living off the grid may not catch up to you for several years. If your power generation system doesn’t produce adequate energy, you will simply have to wait for more. Well-maintained batteries should supply your home with adequate energy, but you’ll need to keep an eye on your power usage.
Alternatives to Leaving the Grid Completely
If you’re not ready to go completely off the grid, you can set up a system that allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. Many electricity providers will work with you so you can stay on the grid while relying primarily on your own renewable energy. When you deplete your energy sources, you can tap back into the grid for supplementary electricity to get you through the day. Your overall power bills and energy consumption are greatly reduced, but you’re never left completely without.
Making the Decision
Many personal factors come into play when it comes to living off the grid. If your home isn’t already connected to the grid, setting up sustainable energy is often cheaper than running power out to your home. Your dedication to green living may also influence your choice.
Whether you live completely off the grid of just partially off, you can make great strides in energy conservation and energy independence by producing at least some of your power yourself.
Mandi Rogier writes often on a range of topics including home, garden, and green living. Many websites and blogs feature her pieces including Garden Guides, Trails, and eHow.