Living Off the Grid: A Beginner's Guide

Chris Gill May 01, 2019
Living Off the Grid

We’ve all dreamt about it. Leaving the rat race, ditching the hustle and bustle of city life and living off the grid. You know, selling your house or ending your lease and building a house out in the sticks that allows you to truly live off the land.

But just how attainable is this lifestyle in reality?

We take a closer look at what it means to go off the grid and the benefits of living this way. And, most importantly, how realistic it is to adopt a way of life that’s closer to nature and further away from society’s expectations.

Here’s our beginner’s guide to living off the grid.

What does it mean to live off the grid?

To many, the idea of “living off the grid” is about cutting ties with all forms of technology and going back to nature. These people see living off the grid as a political statement – a way to reject the materialistic nature of the modern world and adopt a way of life that could even be described as primitive.

But is this what it really means to go off the grid?

Well, in its simplest terms, “the grid” refers to the electrical grid – the system that delivers power to residential and commercial properties, buildings etc. In which case, living off the grid needn’t mean living an entirely “primitive” life. It simply means being disconnected from the electrical grid – beyond that is a personal preference.

For most people, the idea of living off the grid means living a sustainable life by reducing the resources they use. By this token, going off the grid not only means disconnecting from the electrical grid, but also creating your own electricity, collecting rainwater to use, growing food and generally living a greener lifestyle.

The best place to start with clothing when it comes to living off the grid is sourcing ethical and sustainable garments that will last, as well as repurposing old clothes and even making your own.

How to live off the grid

There are many ways to live a life off the grid, some radical while others less so. From living in a tiny home to using wind power, here are just some ways to get you started with living a life off the grid.

1. Live in a tiny home

Live in a tiny home

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years (or off the grid, which is doubtful if you’re reading this article), then you’ll most probably know about the Tiny House movement. Tiny homes provide financial freedom through affordable living spaces that are also energy efficient. Selling your house or ending your lease to build and move into a tiny home would be a bold but effective step into living off the grid.

2. Consider installing heat pumps into your home

Install heat pumps

Often when we think about solar hot water, especially in context with living an off-the-grid lifestyle, we imagine solar panels and a collector tank installed on a roof. But a heat pump is another way to use renewable energy to heat water – and you don’t need to worry about installing solar panels or an entire solar power system!

Installing a heat pump should be an option to consider for any house. This is because they use roughly a third of the energy of an electric water heater. If you haven’t done it already, why not explore installing heat pumps into your home? Even if you’re only interested in dipping your toes into living life off the grid!

3. Invest in solar battery storage

Invest in solar storage

Solar battery storage holds excess solar production during the day for use at night, making it a cost-effective and eco-friendly choice for your off-the-grid-home. On a time of use tariff, you can also purchase grid power during more affordable periods, lessening how much you purchase during peak periods. Battery systems can also be used to provide power in an outage – perfect for those summer storms that often send your house into darkness.

4. Use renewable power generation

Use renewable power generation

Switching to renewable power generation is a great way to save money while saving the environment. There are the obvious options – rooftop solar panels and wind turbines – but there are other renewable power generation solutions that are definitely worth considering factoring into your home.

Have you ever thought about installing a solar oven? This would be the perfect way to fast-track to living life off the grid. Solar air conditioning is also worth giving some thought when considering living a more eco-friendly life.

5. Get a composting toilet

Get a composting toilet

Ok, this one’s not for the faint-hearted (or perhaps not for the city folk). But if you truly want to go off the grid, a composting toilet is essential for your home. Most composting toilets use no water for flushing and are therefore known as “dry toilets” (come on, you’ve been to a music festival, right?).

In many designs, carbon additives such as sawdust, coconut coir or peat moss are added after each use, assisting with composting and reducing odours. They’re not for everyone, but if you take the plunge – we salute you!

How realistic is it to go off the grid?

The two key reasons for living a life off the grid are that it’s better for the environment and it gives you more financial independence. But just how realistic is it to live a life like this? Well, there’s no hard and fast rule around just how “off the grid” you need to go.

So, if you don’t fancy the idea of cutting off from society completely and living in the middle of nowhere – you don’t have to. But it’s not to say that you can’t dip your toes into a lifestyle that mirrors living off the grid.

Whether it’s through installing heat pumps into your home, using renewable power generation or going all out and getting a composting toilet, you can find ways to live a life that’s as off the grid as you want it to be. Even sourcing clothes that are sustainable and made to last is a great place to start.

So what do you think? Will you be adopting an “off-the-grid” lifestyle or do you think the idea will remain a far off dream? As long as you remain “on-the-grid” enough to be able to keep up with all things Boody – we’ll be happy!

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