Staying Off-Grid: Less Isn’t Always Best

Published on March 31st, 2015 | by

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Whether to live a greener life, survive in a disaster zone or just to be in a better position when the zombie apocalypse arrives, many of us aim to one day go off the grid. There are numerous real life tales of people going off the grid but until you’ve actually experienced it you don’t realize how much work it takes to succeed. At the start it can be a tiring process which is just one reason trying to get by on as little as possible should be avoided.

Don’t Hold Back

A big aim for many going off grid is to use less. However, in order to make life as comfortable as possible, which includes being able to use many electrical items, it’s important not to hold back on the electricity you do use. As it’s coming from a cleaner source this shouldn’t matter anyway.

One off grid family advises installing additional panels as soon as you can afford them. Each one provides that bit more electricity for extra comforts, be it a kettle, laptop or washing machine. Likewise there’s no point scrimping on an off grid battery bank as that may lead to a power outage. It may feel good to claim all your power is gained from just two solar panels but if that means having only cold showers, no light after sundown and missing out on other comforts of modern life, is it really worth it?

Diversify

Solar power is a vital renewable energy source for off grid living but must be combined with other methods to help sustain such a lifestyle. Relying on wind power as well provides a good backup that will also complement solar power. On dull days solar panels will struggle to gain much energy, leaving you with little heat in winter for example. If it is windy your energy supplies will be boosted.

Hydroelectric power is another method that can be combined for a more reliable source of energy but depends on your location. It may cost more to initially set up but again, the more options you have available the easier it will be to sustain an off grid lifestyle.

Go Back To Basics

Even though renewable energy equipment is cheaper than ever, if you’re desperate to go off grid as soon as possible then there are ways to survive using less electricity until you can afford a few more solar panels. Having a cold basement is an excellent way to store food without needing to power a fridge, as is relying on long lasting produce rather than that which expires quickly. Set up in the summer too so you won’t need as much hot water or heating in your home and can save enough energy and money to be prepared by winter.

Photo is courtesy of the Flickr Creative Commons.

This post was generously sponsored by WMG.

 

About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.