If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to become self-sufficient. One of the major steps you can take is going “off the grid.” This means that you no longer use a gas and electric company, or water and sewer company, and you no longer need to rely on their infrastructure to supply essential utility services to your homestead — a huge plus in a survival situation.
What you need to understand first is that this is a major undertaking that involves a significant investment of time and money. This is why most people who go off-grid do it one step at a time.
The main consideration for going off-grid is choosing the right location. You want to have land that aids in energy production. You also need to acquire water and mineral rights for the piece of land that you purchase. With that said, there are 5 additional considerations for going off the grid: electricity, water, water heating, sewer and energy back-up.
Electricity/Gas. Two primary sources of power that are not derived from fossil fuels are wind power and solar power. Installing solar panels and wind turbines are simple enough, but both options are pretty expensive if you buy pre-manufactured systems from commercial dealers. They’re still well worth it in the long run, but you can save up to 50% (or more) on the costs by building your own home energy system. Ideally, you’ll use both sources to power your home. There are many other ways to create energy for your house, such as using Propane gas or using fertilizer and waste, but solar and wind energy are free, abundant, and easy to harness once you know how.
Heating. If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, you need a way to heat your home. While you can use electric power to heat your house, you may want to consider installing a wood burner as well.
Water. To truly live off the grid, you’ll need to have your own water. You can install a well and a pump. Whether you’re building a new, energy-efficient home or thinking about installing a well for your current home, check your area water table to see if a well makes sense. Also, most municipalities in the U.S. do not allow wells to be installed within their boundaries, so check your local zoning laws.
Heating Water. You may not have thought about the need to heat water yet. Actually, there are many options. You can install a solar water heater or a propane water heater, use solar panels or hook your water heater up to your wood burner.
Sewage. The only way to deal with sewage in a sustainable way is having a septic tank installed. The tank will process the waste and release the product into the soil. This can be costly and can be tough to implement in urban areas, but if you plan it right for your off-grid property, a septic tank will last a lifetime.
Backup plans. Having a generator and/or battery backup to meet your energy needs in the event that your primary energy sources fail is a no-brainer. Everything I teach is about being prepared for unforeseen circumstances, and if you don’t have a well thought-out backup plan then you’re not really prepared for anything.
I go into more detail about alternative energy sources and building your own solar & wind systems in Power Efficiency Guide, my companion guide to Alive After Crisis. Check it out to learn everything you need to know about getting your home off-grid.
To your survival,