Living your life off the grid

There is a time in the month when billions of people check their mailboxes looking for their favourite magazines or letters from loved ones living far away. Instead, they are greeted with bills and a variety of them – electricity, gas, water and telephone included. All of these bills take away hard earned money from us. Many people around the world hope that there has to be a way of getting rid of such bills from their lives. Have you ever asked yourself if you could produce your own sustainable energy? If your answer is yes then we have to apprise you that there are ways of doing this. This has become increasingly popular in the past half a decade among people looking to reduce their carbon footprint and is referred to as off grid living. The basic idea behind this is to decrease the reliance on fossil fuels.

Off grid living

How to live off the grid

When we refer to a “grid” the first thing that pops up in our mind is the power grid which is off course the power delivery system. Every house has its own supply of power, water and gas. But people who choose to live “off the grid” dig wells for water, supply their own electricity and ditch the phone line. Let us have an in-depth discussion on “How to live off the grid?”

Reliance on Solar and Wind Energy:

The best way to get rid of conventional electricity is to depend on the sun and wind. Although both of these concepts have come up a long time ago, the recent years have seen an increase in dependence on solar energy and wind energy. Homes that depend on solar energy have solar panels (photovoltaic solar panels) installed on the roof. The panels are composed of silicon semi-conductors which collect energy when sun light falls on it. The collected energy then excites the electrons present on the panel and allows them to flow. An electric field present in the panel then stabilises the flow by forcing the electrons to flow in one direction. This creates a direct current or DC. After that, the DC can be easily converted to AC current which can be efficiently used by our homes.

Wind energy works in an identical fashion. A residential turbine resembles the looks of an airplane propeller sitting on top of a 120 foot tower. When wind blows, the blades of the propeller move resulting in the spinning of a shaft from rotor hub to generator. The generator then completes its function by using the energy of the rotation to create electricity. A similar mechanism then applies to convert the electricity into usable AC current.

Most people around the world prefer to use a combination of solar, wind and conventional energy. This helps in reducing the electricity bills. But having said that, a recent shift in trend shows that more and more people are completely switching to renewable sources of energy. At present, wind power is the cheapest and cleanest form of energy in the world.

Creating your own Water Supply.

Once you have built your own electricity system it is time to have your personal water supply. The best thing about water is the fact that it runs underneath the soil and falls from above as rain. So, it is omnipresent and all we need to do is find a way to harness it. There are around 17 % families in the United States of America that get their water from wells. The idea is to dig a hole or drill deep into the ground and then use a pump to get the water up to you. Having said that, you should be aware of the regulations that apply in such cases. Remember, you will need a licensed driller to dig your well. The budget of digging up your own well can range from $ 3500 to $ 15000 depending on the ground water level of the locality. The deeper you dig, the cleaner water you get for use.

Another method of getting your own water is rain water harvesting. The government in the Southern Parts of India have made this compulsory for all families. Their model of rain water harvesting can be efficiently used to get desired results. The entire process can be accessed on the Internet but the basic requirement for this is to construct an open roof and a tank system beneath it.

Augmentation of Home Energy:

If you decided to completely live off the grid then you are likely to require a few additional things to keep yourself cool or warm. You can rely on electricity for using a heater or AC but that may result in using up a large amount of your manufactured electricity. Most people depend on propane as a source of gas. The propane can be fed with the help of pipelines.

Most people living off the grid rely on a back-up generator just in case they have an extremely gloomy day with no wind and sun. These generators are designed to run on propane, natural gas or biodiesel. These generators can be programmed to start automatically if the battery power falls below a desired level.

There are other techniques available for people wishing to live off the grid like passive solar construction and thermal siphoning which are topics for another article. So, we can see so far that living off the grid is not something that is very difficult to achieve.

The lifestyle associated with off grid living:

Well, if you are excited enough to start living off the grid then we must warn you that such a lifestyle goes hand in hand with conserving electricity. You will have to find ways of limiting your use of electricity as your energy sources are depended on the weather conditions. For instance, a person living in United Kingdom can find it difficult to get enough solar energy. But you will undoubtedly be living a greener life with a decrease in dependency on electrical appliances.