The Advantages and Disadvantages of Living Off The Grid
Some people think of living off the grid as a bucolic lifestyle where you grow your own corn and harvest your own wheat and berries. Others think of it as living in a hippie haven, communal living without the need to conform to the rules that society dictates.
Living off the grid is a much simpler concept. Technically, it means that you don’t use grid power. You don’t depend on a utility company for cooling or heating. You create your own energy by using alternative sources.
Not everyone can manage to live off the grid. However, as we see our non-renewable resources vanishing, and vanishing fast, maybe we should start to seriously consider reducing our dependence on the grid.
The Benefits Of Living Off The Grid
If you live off the grid, you get to enjoy the following benefits:
You have lower energy costs
Off-grid living allows you to pay a significantly lower electricity bill. Some people can even bring down their energy cost to zero.
The off the grid lifestyle encourages you to do away with many of the expensive (and usually unnecessary) conveniences of modern life. It induces you to take a serious look at your lifestyle to determine what is really necessary. It leads you to live a simple and frugal life.
Do you really need to have cellphones and cable TV? Do you really have to buy (and buy a lot!) from retail stores and chain outlets? When you are able to reduce many of these non-essential expenditures, you learn to get by on just the essentials. You get to save your hard-earned money or spend it on something really worthwhile.
You help save the earth
The use of high-power grid energy promotes fossil fuels, green gas emissions, hazardous wastes, water pollution, and other long-lasting problems that threaten the environment. When you go off the grid, you decrease your carbon footprint. You help make a huge difference in saving the environment from all these challenges.
You lower your dependency on the utility grid
The grid won’t always be around. It is likely to disappear, maybe not in our lifetime but certainly in the generations to come. It is best to learn ways to wean ourselves from our dependency on it now — and pass on our skills, knowledge, and mindset to the younger generation.
You can live anywhere
If you don’t need the grid, you have more options about where to live. You can choose to live almost anywhere. You can live in a wide, open expanse of land far from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can enjoy uplifting and serene views of nature. You can enjoy the peace and simplicity of rural life.
The Challenges Of Living Off The Grid
However, the off the grid lifestyle also comes with certain challenges, such as:
You have to contend with high startup costs
You get to eventually save money when you live off the grid. When you set yourself up to live off the grid, however, you need to have money for alternative energy systems. You need to find resources for considerable investments upfront.
You need to have the suitable space for off-grid living
Alternative energy sources may not work for the home you already have or the land where your house is built.
Renewable energy works better in certain locations. You can’t expect to generate sufficient solar energy if you live in a place prone to cloudy or rainy weather. Wind energy is not feasible if your property is less than an acre.
You may need to look for property suitable for the use of alternative energy sources.
You need to do a lot of research
Energy production is not simple. It is complicated and requires plenty of research. What system will work best for you? Where and how do you set it up?
Then, once you have installed the appropriate system, you need to consider its regular upkeep and maintenance.
Some people may hesitate to live off the grid because of the work required to have it installed and maintained.
Essential Things You Need To Know Before You Start Living Off The Grid
A lot of people are fascinated by the idea of going off-grid. It is not an easy lifestyle, especially at the beginning. It entails a lot of work, adjustment, and an enormous learning curve. It also brings with it a lot of benefits — both practical and psychological.
Before you go off-grid, however, there are essential things you need to learn:
Determine your major reason for going off the grid
Before taking the plunge, it is critical to determine what your real reasons are for wanting to live this lifestyle.
Do you want to quit paying for expensive utilities?
Do you want to do your share to save the earth?
Do you want to live simply?
Do you want to live free of the hustle and bustle of city life?
Look for a plan that will support your vision
If your biggest concern is to save on your expenditures, you don’t have to look for a property that is located a thousand miles away from society. You can simply make your home more energy-efficient by adopting new conveniences like an on-demand water heater, solar panels, or DC-powered home appliances.
Talk about your vision with the rest of the family
Each family member may have different expectations about what an off the grid lifestyle means. Each one may differ about what he or she is willing to give up.
It is important to have a shared vision and a plan that is acceptable to everybody to avoid conflict and live harmoniously as you transition to the OTG lifestyle.
Living off the grid need not be an all-or-nothing plan. You can start by looking for simple means to reduce your dependency on the grid.
Make small gradual changes that you can sustain instead of highly ambitious plans that you can’t maintain.
Amend your expectations
If you are used to modern conveniences like washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners, and the like, it make take some time to acclimatize to the new lifestyle. Don’t expect to have your brain re-wired immediately. You will go through a steep learning curve. You will make mistakes. So, cut yourself a bit of slack.
You can adopt the off the grid lifestyle at different levels
You can live off the grid fully and enjoy absolute self-sufficiency. This means gaining freedom in so many areas — from the power grid, from the technology grid, from an erratic economy, and from the government, among others.
It can also mean focusing on homesteading and simple, frugal living and reducing dependency from the grid the best way you can.