How going off the grid can save you a tremendous amount of money.
With all of the focus in alternative energy and green technologies, many people have started to look towards living off the grid as an option.
The draw for having a residence which is sustainable without having the monthly bills or the government involvement is enough to get anyone excited.
However, many people get discouraged when the initial set-up prices climb into the thousands.
Does the investment really pay off or is it just another costly “economic” fad?
If done correctly, off the grid living can save you money.
Let us take a moment to really look at where the savings will come from.
The number one component in your utilities is your electricity bill. On average you will spend anywhere from $150 – 500 a month depending on where you live with an on the grid house.
This means that you are spending on average $1,800 to $6,000 a year on just your electricity. Now, if you plug in an air conditioner system then you are going to drive that bill up higher.
With an off the grid system the cost is $0 per year. However, the initial system will cost you around $10 thousand dollars. So, the first year you will not save any money but the next year you could see a 2 thousand dollar savings. Every year after the second year is pure savings as the initial investment has been covered.
Rain Water can be used for a majority of your water usage and the cost is only that of the supplies to contain and route the water (such as in a rain water shower). You can also heat your water collected without having a large investment.
Obviously, if you want to have a water heater, you will have to have to implement solar panels or another renewable energy source to the tank in order to generate power. Usually these systems will run about 9 thousand dollars on the high end. There are a few DIY kits which can convert an existing heater into a self-sustaining heater.
Properties which have a river or flowing water can use hydropower, if you live outside of an Urban area then you may consider drilling a well.
Image Source: DoItYourself
Well water is not dependent upon the grid and the electrical components used to power the well can be hooked up into your solar power system. You may (depending on the size of your land) consider using a geothermal power source.
When most people talk about living off the grid, they focus on the sustainable energy but fail to note the benefits of a sustainable food source.
However, you save a ton of money when you live completely off the land.
Growing your own food and using compost to do so can save you hundreds of dollars a month. Going to the grocery store can run you in excess of $1,000 a month.
Home gardens and interior gardens are an essential part in converting your home to an off the grid sustainable residence.
Keep in mind that certain foods are seasonal, so you will need to have an area dedicated to storing seeds for food which is not in season.
Minimized Gas Consumption
If you use a gas powered vehicle, then you understand that a great deal of your budget goes into getting from one place to another, many times to get products just to sustain you or to pay bills.
- You drive to the grocery store
- You drive to pay bills
- You drive work
Where I am in no means saying that you will be able to quit your job and live debt free and carefree, I am stating that living off the grid will greatly reduce the number of trips you have to make in your vehicle and therefore reduce your cost of living.
For example: if you have a 10 gallon tank and have to fill it twice a week at $2.75 per gallon that is over $50 you are spending in gas a month.
However, if you can cut this down to only one tank per month then that is a savings of nearly $3,600 a year.
Waste needs to carefully discard when living off the grid. A septic tank is still needed.
Waste that is human in nature can be put into a compost heap. The compost can then be used for organic fertilizer and as a conductor for electricity.
As you reduce your waste from off the grid living, your need for linked in services will minimize or cease completely.
In most cases if you can prove that your waste is being disposed of in a way that does not “threaten the general health of the public” you can eliminate that bill as well.
Consider that most people spend around $100 or more on communications each month(that being a cell phone or a land line phone). Switching your communications to a CV gives you the access to the world but eliminates this high financial burden.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that living off the grid does save you a great deal of money. The initial costs will be a bit high (as those providing the items know that you will not be paying a bill afterwards) but the payoff is great.
On average a person spends $25 thousand in living costs. Living off the grid greatly reduces these costs. Once your house is completely off the grid then your utility bill will be $0 and your water bill will be non-existent.
Before you decide to go completely off the grid you need to check on the building and zoning laws for your area.
Some counties have mandatory waste removal; require a water source approved by the zoning commission, and such. However, you can still get off the grid in these areas you just might have to be a bit more tactful in your approach.