The world is a pretty crazy place at the moment. Although the focus this year has mainly been on the coronavirus pandemic, some of the other big stories are around climate change and the need to change how our societies function for more equality and greater consciousness in the world.
This has led to more and more people considering the idea of going off-grid – using their own energy sources, disposing of their waste in a conscientious manner, and becoming as self-sufficient as possible, for example.
The problem with going off-grid, however, is that it can be a rather daunting prospect, and for many, it requires a large amount of research and learning before getting started. Here, we have broken down the basics for you, so that you can begin to take the first steps towards off-grid living…
Unless you plan on living as they did in the Middle Ages, the main consideration that you will need to make is how you are going to supply your home with energy. This means heating your house as well as having electricity to cook, use appliances, and power your fridge, for example.
Solar and wind energy are good options for renewable energy. However, they require solar panels and wind turbines, depending on where you are located.
You will probably also need to have a back-up power option. The winter might not give you adequate sunlight for your needs, so some people choose to have an oil back-up option. This would require having a storage tank where you can keep your oil – and a plastic one is the preferred option.
According to tank specialists, Tanks For Everything, “Plastic heating tanks are a good choice as they are less prone to corrosion than some metal tanks. This is because they consist of an inner tank where the oil is stored and an outer tank, which exists to provide protection to the inner tank. Slimline bunded oil tanks are a sensible option if you are in an environmentally sensitive environment, or for storing a large quantity of oil.”
Ensuring that your home is well insulated is a great way of reducing the amount of energy that you will need to heat or cool your home. You could consider cavity wall insulation, loft, or floor insulation.
Although we now have many more options for getting rid of household waste in a green and sustainable way, there is much that you can do yourself in a self-sufficient, off-grid home. For instance, turn vegetable peelings and tea bags into compost and use it to feed your garden. Also, you can consider doing the same with your human waste.
Compost toilets have changed over time and now offer a more viable option to anyone conscientious about their waste.
When it comes to grey water, you will probably need to have a septic tank if you are truly off-grid and not connected to the sewage network. The septic tank will need to be emptied every now and then, but this is a simple process.
You can also set up water systems that can help you to reuse wastewater that is not dirty or contaminated to be used to flush toilets or water the garden.
You must think about how to get clean and usable water when going off the grid. For drinking water, if you don’t have a spring nearby, you should consider digging a well or borehole to obtain clean water directly from under the ground.
If you are planning on getting a borehole or well and using it substantially (over 20m³ of water per day), you will, however, need to obtain a license. During this process, they will check that it is safe to do this from a geological point of view, as well as checking the quality of the water.
Additionally, you can consider rainwater harvesting where you collect rainwater for use in various functions at home. We’ve argued for rain barrels in the past as a great option. Depending on your intended use, getting a water purification system helps in cleaning out the water and ensuring it’s uncontaminated.
It is not always possible to go completely food self-sufficient, but the more than you can do, the closer you are to real off-grid living. You could do some research into the best fruit and vegetables to grow in your area, and consider getting some chickens, bees, or maybe even a cow. This not only helps to keep you healthy, but it also gives you something to feel proud about.
In a world that is becoming progressively concerned about climate change and sustainability, living off-grid is becoming an increasingly appealing idea for many people. Although there is some work required to set up your home, off-grid living gives you complete control over the impact that your house is having on the world around you and allows you to live in a green, sustainable way.
- ‘Plastic Bunded Oil Tanks’, Tanks For Everything, https://www.tanksforeverything.co.uk/heating-oil/plastic-bunded-heating-oil-tanks
- ‘Cavity wall insulation’, Energy Saving Trust, https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/cavity-wall-insulation/
- ‘What is a Composting Toilet and How Do They Actually Work?’, Green Matters, https://www.greenmatters.com/p/how-do-composting-toilets-work
- ‘Guidance: Apply for a water abstraction or impoundment licence’, Gov.uk, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/water-management-apply-for-a-water-abstraction-or-impoundment-licence
- ‘The ultimate guide to bee keeping for beginners’, Country Living, https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/farming/how-to/a276/beekeeping-for-beginners/