Families choosing to live a life separate from the community support grid are on the rise. There is a newfound desire for more people discovering ways of being partially or entirely self-sufficient. Political and civil unrest along with worries about decaying infrastructure may be driving the movement. Many families are taking advantage of online information to help them not make the same mistakes other homesteaders have made before them. Plus, no one wants to give up the comforts of home just to live off the grid. Here are four things to keep your home comfortable while disconnected from the community infrastructure of power, water, sewer and natural gas utilities.
Dig the Right Well
Depending on where you live, the depth of your well is important to provide an adequate flow rate as well as providing consistent water quality. A shallow well where you live may provide your family with the quantity and quality of water that your family needs year round. However, a deep confined aquafer just above the impermeable bedrock may provide more or better water. You may be in a region where one of each type of well could be beneficial. A shallow well that produces can be a backup supply using a manual pump outdoors of the same type that your ancestors used.
Ensure Your Heating Fuel Supply
Homesteaders quickly learn to not keep all their eggs in one basket. If you heat your home with propane, you likely already have a backup plan. Though propane is kind of an on-grid service, it is a fuel source you can store on your property in tanks. Wood is the more traditional off-grid heating fuel. If you heat with wood pellets, make sure your stove or furnace is capable of also burning standard logs. If you get a furnace that will also burn bituminous (soft) or anthracite (hard) coal, you can store large supplies of heating fuel while having backup options.
Get a Composting Toilet
Gray water is easy to get rid of safely. Black water is not. Handling a septic tank or leach bed problem on your own in the middle of winter may be impossible. A composting toilet provides you a way of managing fecal waste in a safe and even ecologically friendly way if your off-grid sewer option should fail at the most inopportune time. Contrary to popular belief, composting toilets do not wreak of odors or provide unsanitary ways of using it. They are even getting popular in RVs, and they are not offensive to noses even in the confined spaces of homes on wheels.
Harness the Power of the Sun, Wind and Water
Power generation and battery storage are two big things for today’s modern homesteader. LED lighting that only uses a fraction of the energy that incandescent and even fluorescent lights use makes it even more economical to add off-grid power options to your home. Also, most of the electronics you use are already low voltage. If it plugs in with a USB cable to charge, it is five volts. Your AC adapter to connect your devices to a wall outlet converts the 120-volt household AC current to the lower currents your phones, tablets and other devices need to charge. Big appliances, such as refrigeration for food, are the power hogs. A combination of solar, wind and even water current energy if you have a nearby fast-flowing stream can provide you all the power you need year round. Certain companies, such as SolarPanelStore.com, know how helpful solar panels can be when living off the grid. A home-sized windmill power generator as an adjunct or backup to installing solar power panels can keep you permanently off grid for your electricity needs.
The big comforts of home include indoor plumbing, whole-house climate control, an endless supply of water at the faucet, and electricity to power the conveniences of modern life that your kids, and even you, are not likely willing to give up. Fortunately, there are off-grid living options that can provide you all the benefits of the public utilities without the monthly bills or the need to rely on infrastructure maintained by others.
About the Author:
Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber