Living Off the Grid

Common misconception: Everyone living off the grid, lives in a rural setting. That's not true!

Living off the grid is not for everyone, although the off grid life contains elements everyone should strive for. We can't be sure how long our non-renewable resources will remain resources.

What Is Living Off the Grid

Living off grid, is actually a term that's commonly confused for things that it's not. Often, off grid homes are thought of as hippie havens, or rural homes; places where people grow their own wheat and corn and gather berries. It's not. It could be all of the above, but technically the term "off grid" in relation to housing, simply means you're not using grid power. You're somehow creating your own energy such as heating and cooling, but you're not using the utility company to achieve this.

The term "off" is actually incorrect as well. You can be on the grid, yet still off. For example, if you have a home that manages to gain all of its energy needs from alternative energy sources, but still live on the utility grid, you're still off grid when it comes to energy. Still, following? It is a little confusing, and everyone who does live off grid does it a bit differently. That said, it's also a cool way to live.

Benefits of Living Off Grid

  • Reduced energy costs: When you live off the grid, your electricity bills will go away or become very small! In fact, in some cases the electric company may even cut you a check (Wow).
  • Freedom From utility grid dependency: You will no longer have ongoing dependency on the utility grid. Some people believe that we won't always have the grid around. We won't, that's true. Will it affect this lifetime - likely no. Still, the sooner we learn to live without it the better. We do pass learning skills on to the next generation.
  • Less risk of weather-related power loss: When weather turns funky - you may still have power. During a big storm that knocks down poles, it's not Bob on the gird who'll have power. It will be the folks relying on alternative energy that have their lights still on and hot water cranking.
  • Many home design options: Most styles of homes can be off grid.While off grid homes are usually smaller, this is not always the case. Off the grid living is not just something that folks in earth shelters or straw bales do. Although, both these styles of homes are energy efficient and great options - so you may want to look into them. However, if your heart is set on a classic cape cod, you can have one and live off grid.
  • Increased environmental knowledge: You will get a whole new education. Managing alternative energy systems, living more simply, and learning the best ways to conserve offer a hands on education that you can't get entirely from books. Many off grid home dwellers do come to think of off grid as a lifestyle choice instead of simply viewing it as the way their home is designed.
  • Diminished carbon footprint: You'll be lowering your carbon footprint when you live off the grid. See how much with a carbon footprint calculator.

Cons of Living Off Grid

There honestly are not that many cons to living off the grid. In the case of negatives, it's more about the issues you may have obtaining an off grid lifestyle. There's a learning curve of course, that could be considered a con, but it's not a steep learning curve (anyone can learn to live off grid), so it's not included here.

  • Start up costs: While you almost positively will save money in the long run, in the short term start up costs for alternative energy systems can be high. There are some financing renewable energy solutions available, and if you're building new, choosing the right materials can help; such as reclaimed materials.
  • Space requirements: Not all alternative energy sources work for all land or already built homes. If you don't have the right home or land, you may have to search for new suitable buildings or land.
  • Conservation: You'll need to learn to conserve energy correctly, so that when you need it, the energy will be available. Conservation depends on energy system size and source, but a more powerful system, one that stores more, will cost quite a lot more money. Conservation is not just a con though; it's an excellent learning goal.

Off Grid Living Resources

Off Grid living is a large and complex topic. Many books could be written about the options available. To learn more visit the following online resources (many offer links to books on the topic):

Living Off the Grid