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Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 first steps to taking yourself off the grid forever

Relians on public utilities goes down when off the grid
Renewable energy makes living outside the grid more possible
By Sophie Dias

You’ve heard staunch eco-warriors talk passionately about living off the grid, and you’re convinced that it is the best way for you to achieve sustainability. But what exactly does living off the grid entails? How much are you going to spend on building your green home before you can relish the fruits of your labor?

Living off the grid, as the name suggests, is all taking back your reliance on commercial power grids. The term espouses independence from power corporations, but the process toward it is a tricky one. Nonetheless, taking your home off the grid is doable if you follow these steps:

1. Make good use of solar power

Sun-powered electricity is the first thing that comes to mind when one mentions sustainable living. To achieve this, you need to install photovoltaic solar panels in your home. Though the process seems easy, you need to take into consideration the upfront cost that you need to pay just to have the materials installed by professionals (take note: you also need an inverter and batteries to make your solar panels work).

 2. Harness the power of the wind

If you live in windy areas, you have another alternative investment option that will help you save on costs from conventional power methods. By installing a wind turbine, you can utilize wind power to generate electricity. The size of the turbine you need to get depends on a few things: the wind speed in your area, the size of your home, and of course, your budget.

3. Use running water to produce electricity

People who live near streams and rivers are in luck because they can produce microhydro electricity with the help of running water. Among the three options presented so far, microhydro electricity is considered the best of all since it is the most consistent. As long as the water keeps on flowing, you can have an unlimited supply of electricity to power your home.

 4. Collect rainwater

This method is so simple that many people take it for granted. Rainwater harvesting allows you to have fresh supply of water all year long. With proper filtration methods, rainwater could be safe enough to drink.

 5. Use greywater

Greywater refers to disposed water from showers, sinks, and bathrooms. This is trickier to maintain than rainwater, since it contains traces of human waste. However, greywater is a great solution if you’re living in unbuildable habitats wherein there is very little to no water available. With this method, you need to invest in an excellent filtration system that will do all the work for you.

It might seem ironic that trying to live off the grid puts you in a more difficult financial predicament than relying on conventional means of electricity, however after a few years you'll recoup your investment and start saving thousands over the course of living in your home. If you are concerned about preserving the environment, then living off the grid may just be the right thing to do for you.

About the author: Sophie Dias writes reguarly on green living and sustainability. Her interest lies in modern home design that is self-sufficient, cost-effective and practical in use.

Image license: Amzi Smith; CC BY-SA 3.0