How to Get Started with Your Off-the-grid Dream Home

Living off-the-grid provides many benefits. On the practical side, it will allow you to be spared from monthly utility bills, money you can allot to other essential needs instead.

On the political side, living off-the-grid means consciously reducing your carbon footprint, which puts you on the right side of history. After all, climate change is more real than ever, threatening species, island habitats, and even economies with rampant wildfires, quickly rising sea levels, and super typhoons.

On the spiritual side, going back to the basics cancels out the noise and lets you listen more to the whispers and whimpers of your soul as it relates with the rest of the universe. You can’t get more romantic than that.

But do not get overly excited. You can’t just jump right in because the proposition sounds right up your alley. Ample preparation is required for the whole endeavor to succeed. So please read up first.

Energy source

This is the most crucial consideration when living off-the-grid. Just because you’re going to Walden it like Henry David Thoreau does not mean you have to live in the dark and cold. Going off-the-grid is not synonymous with a death wish.

You have two possible and accessible sources of energy. That’s solar and wind. These energy sources are free. You will have to invest in the technology that will harness them, such as solar panels and wind turbines.

Gone are the days when solar panels were pretty expensive. You can now afford to purchase enough solar panels to run an entire home, especially an off-grid one. Typically, these solar panels are installed on the roof, or a nearby contraption specifically built for them.

Wind turbines will remind you of an airplane propeller. It usually sits atop a pole that can be as high as 120 feet (36.58 m). Basically, a wind turbine harnesses energy while it’s turning.

You can choose between these two energy sources, depending on what’s more practical on your end. Or better yet, you can employ them both for a hybrid energy system.

Water collection

When choosing the area for your off-the-grid home, you must consider the availability of a water source. If there’s a stream nearby, you can collect water from it but make sure your house is outfitted with a reliable filtration system. The same goes for water from a drilled well.

Alternatively, you can install rain barrels to collect rainwater. Rainwater is a more reliable water source than streams and wells, at least in terms of cleanliness. You do not have to worry about it being contaminated with animal feces and whatnot.

Waste disposal

Just because you’ve gone off-the-grid does not mean you can just do the number two anywhere and not be held accountable for your action. Building codes govern even hard to reach places. If you’ve retreated deep enough into the woods where there are no building codes, surely there will be, at the very least, sewage regulations.

Here a septic tank is your best friend. You will need to have it built by a professional. It will also require regular checking and maintenance.

The Right Mindset

You cannot go off-the-grid on a whim. It must be a level-headed decision. And you must possess an independent spirit and steadfast commitment to overhauling a lifestyle of excess that brings forth an unnecessary carbon footprint. Without these prerequisites, your off-the-grid plans might not succeed.

Moreover, it would help if you were prepared to work hard. You should ideally know how to grow your own food. That requires basic knowledge of farming and gardening.

You should have a working knowledge of first aid as well. Given that you will be living far from your communities, you need to administer basic health remedies to yourself when the need arises.

In the United States, 20 percent of carbon emissions can be traced back to the household. If indirect emissions are factored in, this number can balloon to as much as 80 percent. Official figures have also revealed, rather expectedly, that wealthier families have a larger carbon footprint. The bigger the dispensable income in a household, the more energy they consume.

With those statistics, going off-the-grid becomes even more tempting. The idea of becoming self-sufficient, whether for economic, political, or spiritual reasons, has its charms. Doing away with a culture of excess is a decision that’s sure to make you sleep better at night. In the end, a good night’s sleep is always better than all the richness in the world.

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Matthew Okafor