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Friday, February 8, 2013

Cost-effective alternatives to conventional living

Improvements in solar technology have reduced renewable energy costs
Renewable use of waste and water improves household cost utility
 
There are numerous benefits to building a sustainable lifestyle otherwise known as “getting off the grid”. Although the upfront costs are sometimes prohibitively steep, they do not have to be and living a life on just a few thousand dollars a year thereafter is possible. In order to live off the grid inexpensively, consider the following tips:

Power purchase agreements


Power purchase agreements lower the cost of electricity with little or no upfront cost according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This is because the PPA contract is with an alternative energy equipment installer and not the energy company. Solar power advocate organization Greenzu estimates PPAs save consumers between $750-$2,500 per year in electricity costs making PPA a thumbs up alternative to conventional electricity provided the contract is good. 

Compostable toilets


According to Mother Earth News, a 400 square foot garden requires around $218.68 of compost each year. Additionally, in a household of two, a compostable toilet saves approximately 53.4 gallons of water per day or 19,491 gallons per year. Not including surcharges and city water fees, that is $38.98 per year in savings. Combined with the compost savings that adds up to $257.66 or the price of a low-end compostable toilet. In other words, compostable toilets are a wise sustainable alternative.

Indoor solar-lighting systems


Using figures from the Alliance to Save Energy, a 25 watt CFL bulb costs $32.40 to operate non-stop per year. To build on electricity savings, installing an indoor solar-lighting system should have a reasonable pay-off time. Thus to pay off in a year each replacement light should cost below this amount. Maximizing on natural light during the day is another way to reduce the need and cost for indoor lighting alternatives. Numerous solar lights are on the market, with enough due diligence, it can be done on the cheap.

Farm in a barrel


The U.S. Department of Agriculture states food for a family of two between the ages of 19-50 costs $746.50 per month; that's just under $9,000 per year and over 21 percent of the average U.S. household income of $41,560. One way to lower food costs is to stock your own fish pond, and grow your vegetables. For around $200, the “farm in a barrel” provides a cost effective solution to raising fish and growing vegetables in an innovative and space efficient way .

Conventional living does not necessarily mean fiscally prudent living. The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovative or creative ways to reduce costs. People everywhere have sought and are looking for new solutions to old financial problems, and sometimes the alternatives are not only practical, but worthwhile as well.

Image license: US-PDGov