Living off the grid

Leave a comment

Let’s face it, most people are not ready to live off the grid. The average American household uses over 8,900 kilowatt-hours of electricity and somewhere around 144,000 gallons of water each and every year.

While living off the grid might not be possible for everyone, more and more Americans are actually choosing to unplug. In fact, a couple of years back, Home Power magazine estimated that over 180,000 homes in the U.S. were generating their own power.

So what does it mean to truly live off the grid?

Well it’s not as simple as running a couple of light bulbs through a solar panel. To truly say you are living off the grid, you have to find a way to generate your own power, water, heat, and yes even things like your cable TV and internet.

So how do you unplug?

Slow and steady wins the race: While pulling the plug may seem like a pipe dream, there a few things you can do while you wait for your earthship to be built.  Most of us waste more than we actually use; being mindful of how you use your resources is the first step towards energy independence.

  • Turn it Off - Sounds simple, but turning off your computers, lights and other electrical items can dramatically reduce the amount of power you use.
  • Use Power Strips – Turing it off doesn’t necessarily mean it’s really off. Did you know that the electrical gadgets in your house are probably using power even when they are turned off?  By plugging them into a power strip you can cut off their power supply by simply flipping a switch.
  • Pull water from thin Air – Believe it or not you can actually generate fresh drinking water from the air in your house.  Check out this cool piece of technology that produces water from the humidity in the air. EcoloBlue 28 Atmospheric Water Generator

Other Resources & Stories for living off the grid:

Comments

Responses to " Living off the grid " Please share your thoughts...

  1. LaMar says:

    I am a long time off-grid homesteader and live in a solar cabin I designed and built for under $2000. I use solar and wind power electricity, solar composting toilet, passive solar heating and passive cooling.

    No house payments and no monthly utility bills- life is great!

    You can see my cabin here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXu45MHrnTk

    LaMar

    • lou says:

      if you get this LaMar I want you to know I ordred your book thru lulu…they shipped it to the wrong address and said I would have to order and pay for another book even if the book came back to them..they are thiefs..
      Lou

      • P says:

        How is that Lamar,s fault? Just dispute it with your credit card if it did not show up to you. You have rights since it did not go to your address.

    • josh says:

      Hi how do you get a state Id or dl in a off grid cabin.

  2. bohzo (hello)

    Very interesting blog with good tips. I will never forget visiting Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the remote part, some did not have electricity, water, or plumbing.

    I was so shocked at how well they adjusted and how tough they are as a people, survival to me seemed nearly impossible, for them it was simple. The most shocking thing was they seemed happy and were much more tribal and had to rely on neighbors.

    Have a great day!

  3. I grew up without electricity ( actually didn’t HAVE it until I was about 30) so I know it is totally possible. We used propane to power a lot of things like the refrigerator, lights, stove, etc. Didn’t have tv, or anything like that so didn’t need it for that…

    If you have a hand pump on your well you can use that to draw water but we always used a gas engine. If you have a wood stove you can actually get along without a water heater, oven or range as you can do all that with a flat topped wood stove.

    Yeah, there are definetly ways to live off the grid but until I HAVE to do that again, I will use the grid. =)

  4. joe klein says:

    some off the grid people are insane in my book in there waste and inefficency if you have to dig a deep well put up solar pannels run refrigeration ect you kidding your self its an ugly waste of time. you should be spending more time hunting fetching water cutting wood harvesting wild food then messing with these obtrusive remnets of your urban life … you cant take it all. rediculious.

    • Plato says:

      What is wrong with you? Your grammar is an eye sore and difficult to decipher. What is so wrong about using solar panels, and being cost and environment efficient? Sigh. Faith in humanity not restored.

    • Hill billy says:

      >7B of us cannot heat with wood. I like the idea of off grid living, but just like organic farming, if we all tried to do it, >7B of us can’t stay here.

  5. free in tennessee says:

    we know it can be done cause we’ve been doin it for 4 years now offgrid, just keep adding on little by little, it’s not always easy but we sleep good at night(havin no monthly debt makes that easy)my wife and 2 kids love it.

  6. Farai Mangoro says:

    I love the concept of living off the grid. Here in Zimbabwe, Africa municipalities have collapsed. In cities off grid is no longer optional. However, off grid life run by a prepared person is both affordable, realistic and funny. I agree that such life is not liked by everybody. the good life of the grid bleeds nations of resources, and creates a society dependent on economic dynamics. I think off grid means absolute freedom!

  7. Tim says:

    Hey everyone! I’ve recently been building a 188 square foot off grid cabin on 20 acres in northern California. As I was putting in the first interior wall the county showed up and gave us the ol’ stop work order. They said the structure needed to be permitted if we were gonna live in it…even if under 200 square feet. Now in order to permit it we need a well, flushing toilets including a septic system that fits up to a 3 bedroom, have to connect to the power lines, as well as a whole laundry list of stuff that we feel is the opposite of sustainable. Apparently a neighbor called the county on us. I see that people live off the gris all over the country…how is this legally possible if at all? Is there anything we can do to petition and make this cabin livable? Just don’t want to walk away with out trying to make a difference.
    Thanks so much!

    • John says:

      You can do it if you build your cabin on a set of wheels, kinda like a trailer. No foundation attached to the ground.

    • RCJ says:

      Had a similar problem in rural Virginia. Got my water from a spring up the hill. Spring was on neighbor’s property, but my deed and his deed said I had water rights to the spring. I think he called the county. County came in and said I had to have a well, hook up to town sewer (even though I was outside town limits), and electric service. So I dug a hole, lined it with plastic barrels, and put a tee in the underground line into the ‘well’. A toilet float switch keeps it from overflowing. I paid the $450 fee to hook up to town sewer, dug up the dirt as if I had buried a line to the distribution box, but didn’t hook up anything. I paid the power company $150 to run a line to a service pole next to the house ‘for construction purposes’, but haven’t plugged anything into it yet. The county inspector came out once and turned around in the driveway without speaking to anyone. Still using spring water, still using the cesspool, and still lighting my house (built in 1888) with two solar panels. The power company asked me when I would start using power, and I told them I had to delay construction until the economy turns around. Haven’t heard anything more from them. I have 15 acres and the house, so wood for heat and cooking is easy. My grand daughter gave me her old laptop, and since my one and only neighbor didn’t secure his wi-fi, she set it up on the internet. It came with Magic Jack, but she is the only one who calls. I only turn it on from 6AM to 9AM. I told the town I didn’t have the plumbing done yet. They check the distribution box monthly, and will start billing me once they see the box is wet. So – still no utility bills, and I get the senior citizen exemption on property taxes. The mortgage was paid off about 1920, and has been continuously occupied since it was built. I really thought I was grandfathered in and didn’t have to do any of that stuff. All this tomfoolery cost me half a month’s social security check and a week of hard labor. I guess the wi-fi is compensation for my trouble.

      • Enter your name... says:

        RCJ, can I ask which county in Virginia you’re in? I bought eight acres of rural land and want to build an off grid cabin for year round living. Has the idea of hooking up to the electric company!

  8. TO START SLOWLY UNPLUGING says:

    own approx. 12 acers in rural washinton county,In.
    In 1997 I purchased the first 6 acres then after a military deployment wbought the additional 5.6 back to 1st 6 every day I would go to my new piece of heaven w 6pack in tow…yes I I already had a favorite spot..so I would sit and & ponder I knew the land had been logged but that was 15yrs prior and I just couldn’t believe all of these huge tree’s
    pines and poplar perfect for a lumbar package.especailly after I called lowe’s

    I FOUND A FRIEND WHO HAD A BAND SAW MILL HE WHIPPED OUT AND WHEEL WE MEASURED A FEW TREE’S ..THEN THE ANSWER CAME YES WE CAN BUILD U A 30X60HOME,PLUS UR GARAGE30X24 ATTACHED..SIDING WILL BE POPLAR SAID OUT LOUD…WE DID IT ALL FOR WAY WAY LESS THANU CAN IMAGINE..MY ONLY REGREAT IS I THAT I COULD’NT PUT IT WHERE I WANTED WHY YOU ASK ELECTRICITY @ $1500 per pole x 8= 12000 that is more than my lumbar package cost..the great compromise instead of 900 feet of a ralely used road,on the 2nd ridge back just above a seasonal creek …it was going to be 300 1pole and I would dig the remaning with my shovel if I had too. Oh I started didn’t realize that I had so many real friends @ the time..people that would work for steak’s and brewski’s @ the end of the day…Fast foreward2013june13….average electric bill 250 per month during the summer 6 in the household….for heat we had a hardy woodfurnace installed $$$$paid for itself in a year and half ..??? would it be to exspensive for me too get this giant home off of the grid Help the campbells

  9. gary says:

    am working to live off the grid i do have solar and 10 batterys to back it up we hit water on my land it will run on solar as well i built a backup changer for my battreys if it raining i love it its not hard to do works great and not bad to buy the parts and build it by hand make the time and do it

  10. Watcher says:

    We live in a 2000+ sq. ft. straw bail and timber frame house. Solar water heat, radiant floor heat, solar powered well, septic system, 3000 watts of solar panels, trace inverter, outback charge controller, 20 L16 Trojan batteries. Satellite TV and internet, electric fridge and deep freeze, swamp cooler for summer AC, big screen TV, wood burning parlor stove. we use toasters, washer, drier occasionally. back up systems are tank-less water heater and propane generator neither of which has come on in over a year due to recent upgrades in solar. Ham radio, shortwave receiver, satellite radio. The point is you really don’t have to give up anything to go solar and off grid. Next is an outdoor stone oven and cook stove wood powered.1000gal propane tank for back up systems and cook stove. we have a garden and chickens protected by an great electric fence. cell phones. closest power poles 4 miles away.

    • peggy says:

      Please tell me how?????

  11. steve low says:

    just start doing it.you will never be finished,but so what?

  12. jen says:

    In city,4 kids all w/heads in phone.can barely meet bills without being months behind..almost waiting for some type of people clearing event so to begin again..no not crazy

    • Jme says:

      No, we’re not crazy either. My fiancé and I have 2 kids. They are too young for phones, but we have discussed moving off the grid before that time comes. Even with off the grid living we would still have to pay our student loans. He pays $500/month… which isn’t taken into consideration when applying for any state assistance. :-/ Off the grid sounds real nice right about now.

Tell us what you're thinking...