Energy Independence: Could You Really Live Off Grid?

March 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Green Energy

If anyone were offered the ability to completely sever their relationship with the electric company and have the capability of being energy independent, they probably would want to learn more. Energy independence, or producing your own electricity without metered usage with a utility company, is called living ‘off grid.’ Is it really possible to do it? And what are the advantages and disadvantages? If the thought of energy independence intrigues you, read further to learn more about the ‘off grid’ dream.

First, to live off grid you must have a containable source of energy available to you. This can be wind power, solar power, or if you live on a waterfront, possibly even hydropower. The whole point is to have the ability to generate electricity without the electric company’s help. It might sound too good to be true, but consider that more than 200,000 people have made it a reality and enjoy an independent green lifestyle today.

If you are adventurous and care passionately about decreasing your carbon footprint, you could go off grid yourself. Just prepare to make a few sacrifices. Wind or solar power alone might not produce enough electricity to meet your needs. You’d have to make a lifestyle out of conserving electricity and keeping track of all that is used. You wouldn’t be able to use appliances without thought. You might have to watch the TV sparingly, cut back your use of the microwave, try hand washing your clothes, and line dry them.

Once you’ve mastered energy conservation and have adapted to living off-grid, you can even go further by severing your tie to the water company. With a cistern to collect rainwater and a system to make it potable, you can eliminate your need for municipal water as well as electricity. Again, it requires sacrifice and a conservative lifestyle. When there is a lack of rain you might have to limit bathing and toilet flushing.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, There are ways to lessen your dependence on the local electric company without going totally off grid. For example, you can collect power with solar panels, but supplement with your local electric utility. If you have a solar panel system, some utility companies even offer the use of net metering to greatly reduce your electric bill. It works like this: any excess electricity produced by your solar panels in the daytime is credited back by the electric company. So you’re only using your electricity company’s power at nighttime and during inclement weather. The benefits are that you don’t need to pay for or find a place to store all those batteries.

Clearly, off grid living requires some drastic lifestyle changes that aren’t for everyone. But with enough passion for the environment and desire to live green, you might endeavor to make the leap into energy independence. Or take steps to support your energy usage with greener alternatives to live partly off-grid. But whatever you decide, if you make these changes you need everyone in the household on board because of the commitment involved. Once that is established, you can live as the pioneers did, not taking for granted any of your energy usage, and living clean and green.