Off-grid living is becoming more and more attractive to many Americans. Skyrocketing utility bills, a desire for self-sufficiency, and a simple desire for privacy are just some of the reasons people look toward the solution of going off the grid and living entirely by their own means. If you're thinking about going off-grid, here are 5 important tips to smooth your transition.
1. Choose the Right Location
While it's possible to go off-grid to an extent nearly anywhere (even in a suburban house, as long as you can provide your own power and water), some places are certainly more agreeable than others. If you're choosing a location to live off the grid, take these factors into consideration. First, what kind of climate can you expect? How consistent is the weather? Which natural disasters is the area prone to? What natural resources are nearby? Is there wildlife? What is the ground and soil quality? Can you grow food there? Is the water table low enough to allow you to construct a basement? Where is the nearest source of water? How much rain does the area get?
Keep all these questions in mind as you search for an ideal location, as well as any other factors you can think of.
2. Have Multiple Power Sources
If you're used to all the conveniences of modern life, you may not want to give them up just to go off-grid, but you don't have to eliminate them entirely. For example, you can keep many of your devices charged with a solar charging system. Solar, water, and wind power are all good options for off-grid living, depending on what the environment is like where you are, and you can use more than one of these power sources if available. You may want a gasoline-powered generator as a backup.
Complement your energy source by lowering your usage as much as possible, through both planning your home and adapting your habits; for example, good insulation in your home will cut down on energy expenditures for heating and cooling, and strictly monitoring your own usage will cut down on precious power going to waste. We've all forgotten to turn off a light when leaving a room, but when going off-grid, you have to train yourself to be mindful of every detail.
3. Collect Rainwater if Possible
Collecting rainwater is vastly more efficient than lugging a bucket to a stream and back again; in fact, with a good rainwater collection system, you can accumulate a great deal of water from what seems like a merely average rain. Putting the system together will be a pretty big task, but it will continue to pay off for years as you will be able to collect and store enough water to supply your family and garden with ease.
You can build a well, but wells can be difficult and expensive to dig and are highly dependent on the quality of the groundwater, which can be very easily polluted depending on your area. Rainwater collection is nearly always the better option— rainwater is cleaner than well water and contains fewer minerals, and in many climates you'll get plenty of it, making it more convenient too. You'll still need to filter and purify it, though, as well as preserve and store it. You can find plenty of resources online for building a great rainwater system.
4. Utilize Satellite Communications
If you're truly off-grid, you may be in a pretty isolated area. Invest in a satellite phone to enable yourself to keep in touch with the rest of the world. Remember, you're leaving the grid, not necessarily leaving civilization altogether, and being able to keep in touch can save your life. A satellite phone is a worthwhile precaution for anyone living off-grid or even simply visiting a more remote area.
Also, forget the usual internet providers and opt for a satellite WiFi hotspot. You'll be able to send and receive emails and have access to important information such as approaching weather conditions. Make sure to contact Outfitter Satellite to find out the right system for your specific needs.
5. Maintain a Garden and Consider Livestock
Going off the grid doesn't just mean separating yourself from city utilities like power and water. You can become even more self-sufficient by growing a vegetable garden. Depending on your location, you could also consider fruit trees to supplement your growing. Consider livestock as well. Chickens are easy to keep and will provide you with eggs, and rabbits are another favorite off-grid small farm animal: they breed quickly and yield meat, and are very easy to raise. Chickens can also eat garden pests, and animal dung can be turned into fertilizer just as waste plant matter can be composted to add more nutrients to your soil.
You can even set up your garden to become completely self-sustaining. This is a technique called permaculture and you can find more information by searching for that topic.
This article is meant to be food for thought for anyone interested in starting an off-grid lifestyle, but you should definitely seek out more information if you're serious about taking such a step. If you keep these tips in mind, you will have an easier time starting out and at least a general idea of what to do. Living off grid is hard work, but the self-sufficiency you develop is extremely rewarding and offers a true sense of accomplishment. Good luck!